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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Jennifer Cook


We knew when we were visiting Lake Tahoe that the National Park we had to see along the way was Yosemite!

There are few places in the national park system that are spoken about as reverently as Yosemite. Maybe Yellowstone is an equal, but that is probably the only other park that can come close to this breathtaking piece of land. If you have never been to California then this is the one place you must make plans to visit. It was one of the most beautiful parks I've had the honor of visiting.

We have noticed that some parks have enormous or elaborate signs. They are great for pictures, but the truly iconic parks in our country don't need something else to draw you in. They keep the signs simple and plain. In our experience this is because you know you are about to see something incredible beyond that sign.

David and I try to visit the National Parks during the spring or fall during the off season. This spring David and I made the trip from Washington to Northern California. We knew we might miss some parks and places to see due to all the heavy snow that hit the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains. However, the trade off was that there were very few people around. When we arrived at the park there were only five cars in front of us. Compare that to the four to five hour wait times to just get into the park this summer!

This was our view as we approached the entrance to the park:

What we did not count on was all the snowmelt creating so many once in a lifetime waterfalls. Everywhere! Seriously, there were waterfalls literally everywhere. On the sides of cliffs, dropping from one cliff to another, falling down into a roaring river, creating lakes where there was no water before, and so on and so forth. This truly is the waterfall capital of the world.

I could post picture after picture of all the other waterfalls, but you get the idea. It is stunning to see all this water from the snowmelt. Additionally, I will add that the park is very well laid out. The government obviously put some thought into where parking spaces should be, so people could take advantage of short walks to see all the waterfalls. Of course there are so many hiking trails it would be impossible to take them all on a single day trip. We did run into a few full parking areas, but ultimately we got to see everything we wanted to see on this trip. Again, I would highly recommend an early May trip to this park.

THE highlight of this trip for us, and probably the highlight of your trip as well, is the place that most people know about Yosemite. There is one iconic spot that photographer after photographer have taken that best represents Yosemite. It is The Tunnel View! The problem with photographs is that no matter how beautiful they are and how well done, they simply cannot capture the magnitude of seeing the same place in person with your own eyes. This is a place you MUST see in person. The pictures are stunning, but to stand before this view yourself will not only leave you in awe of its beauty, but also humble you.

David has talked about seeing The Tunnel View for years. To him it is one of the most iconic views in our country and I was excited to share this moment with him. This was the day he finally had his moment to see this place for himself. He was driving, but I caught a glimpse as we drove to the observation point. I bit my tongue so I did not share how beautiful it was. I wanted my husband's first view to be perfect. As we got to the parking area I told him to swing around to the far side that way when he turned into the parking space he would be looking straight at the view. The first moment was everything I hoped it would be for my husband. He audubly gasped and just stared with his mouth hanging open and his chin on the ground. He could not move. David later told me he did not want to blink or look away for a second in case this was not real and he never got to see it again. I am not ashamed to say that we both shed a few tears. We also took time to stop and pray. We humbly thanked God for creating such beauty, and for allowing us the opportunity to see it for ourselves. Without further ado here is The Tunnel View:

We both decided that at the end of the day we had go back to take in this view one more time. It was worth it! I think the dark clouds add even more to this stunning scenery.

In closing we definitely added this particular National Park into our top five parks in our country. Everyone needs to visit this one. It is life changing and will give you a wonderful perspective of what California really has to offer as a state. Finally, I wanted to add one more picture of my husband deep in thought as he sat alone taking in the Tunnel View. This was his time, but I had to take a picture to remember this specific moment. He was overjoyed when I showed it to him.

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