Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Two Full Days in Yosemite NP

Yosemite NP is one of the most impressive national parks in the United States, if not the world. Mark and I visited Yosemite Valley once before with my parents, in 2005, but we had mostly forgotten about its allure. That being said, when we returned to California in mid-October, the park regained a spot on our mental “things-to-do” list. We considered a weekend getaway there during our three-month house sit in Rocklin, but winter was upon us and the dog we were taking care of did not get along well with others, so we pushed Yosemite into a corner of our brains. That was until my cousin Griet and her husband Wim decided to fly in from Belgium for a 10-day vacation in Northern California. They generously treated us and Lola to a weekend in Yosemite.

The family at Tunnel View

Dogs are allowed in the park and on certain trails, but they are prohibited in buildings, lodges and even some camps. The only way to bring Lola with us was to stay in particular campgrounds or in a hotel outside park boundaries. In the beginning of April, it was still freezing at night in the valley, so sleeping in our tent was out of the question. The only alternative was to find a dog-friendly place an hour away from the park entrance, with another half hour added to reach Yosemite Valley, where most of the attractions are located.

We found our hotel in Mariposa (the hotels do take advantage of pet occupants by charging a steep nightly fee for them) and decided to spend three nights there, to make the most of our weekend days, each involving three hours of car travel.

The five of us left Sebastopol on a Friday after lunch. The promise of a sunny weekend – the warmest of this year so far – had everyone out on the roads to reach their destination. Instead of four hours, it took us almost six to enter Mariposa and check into our room. On Saturday and Sunday, we fully submerged ourselves in Yosemite National Park, gazing at waterfalls, walking the trails, staring up steep cliffs and down beautiful valleys and taking hundreds of photos. The absence of spring flowers, the closure of a few sites and construction in parts of the park did not deter the heaps of visitors. “Quiet” times in the park were before 10am and after 4pm.

On Monday, Griet, Wim and I explored the town of Mariposa for a bit, while Mark caught up on Wirie work in the hotel room. Then, we drove back home by ways of Columbia State Historic Park in the Southern Gold Country, which is yet for another blog post. 🙂

Have you ever been to Yosemite National Park? What do you remember of it?

Tunnel View


  1. I’m so happy that you got back to Yosemite! I camped there with my family many times growing up, and I have revisited it over the years. My husband and I were there last fall (before the rains started) and were saddened by the effects of the drought. I hope the rains have helped to revitalize the landscape… it was sorely needed.

    • The drought is over, Janis, even in Yosemite by the looks of it. For that, we are happy, but it has been rainy and chilly all winter and spring here. Not our thing. Apparently, it is the wettest winter since they started recordings in the early 1900s. We feel privileged to have witnessed it… 🙂

  2. Yosemite is on our to see list, and after seeing this images, I might push it to the top.

    • Yosemite is pretty and diverse, a good one to put on the top. I am dying to visit Yellowstone and a few of the other big parks in your neck of the woods!

  3. What a wonderful treat for all of you! It looks amazing and Lola is really enjoying herself 😉🐾🐾

    • Lola has been on some adventures these past two months. We truly enjoy her company. What is the point of going on hikes and day trips without dogs? 🙂 We will miss her. Leaving next week…

  4. You and Mark are seriously the most amazing pet sitters that I have ever heard of! You definitely need to include this post (with photos) on your CVs!! I look forward to your next post!

    • That’s a good idea, Donna. We don’t want to “show off” too much on our profiles, though, but I could add some links to photos and dog adventures. Not all dogs (or owners) are up for these escapades, but we try to encourage dog involvement, especially in the longer sits.

  5. I’ve not been here yet! Looks great.

  6. It looks like Lola appreciated your accommodations! Yosemite is totally on our list… especially if we end up with a van one of these days!

    • A van is the way to go for overland travel! We’d love to do more of the parks in the west that way… Too much to do, too little time! 🙂

  7. Wonderful photos, Liesbet! I have been to Yosemite a couple of times, when I was a kid. Oddly enough though it’s Sequoia National Park that stuck more in my memory! If I ever decided to revisit the US, I’d have to see Yosemite again I think.

    • We would love to go to Sequoia NP, Kim, but I don’t think dogs are allowed and that destination was/is a bit too far away for a weekend, unfortunately. I’ll put it on the mental list!

      • The mental list sounds like the right place for it then. It seems Yosemite offered everything you could need & more, and was a great fit for the whole family (pets are family too of course!). What a great location to have so close by.

        • If you call five hours away close… 🙂 As an Aussie, you know about long distances, of course. It will take me a while still to jump in a car for, say, a two hour or three hour drive just for the day or even the weekend.

          • That’s true, everything is a long distance here. I drive down to Canberra to visit the Australian War Memorial not long ago, just for the day – it’s a 2.5 hour drive just to get there (same to get home obviously). It’s a lot of driving but there’s some lovely scenery on the way and it’s a great day trip.

            • Beautiful scenery helps! Being from a small country like Belgium, where you really plan ahead for a day trip whenever the destination is over an hour away, I still am having a hard time getting used to all these big distances in the US. Only when having guests, or for something truly amazing, am I OK sitting in a car for three hours total. 🙂 Usually, those are nice and sunny days, so I’d rather do something closer by to be outside instead of inside.

  8. Lola looks like she had a wonderful time. I’m glad you were able to find a dog friendly place to stay at.

    • Lola loves new places to explore, walks in the forest, swims in the rivers and chasing sticks. We love watching her being happy – and hiking, and enjoying the views, minus the swimming in ice cold water and chasing sticks. 🙂

  9. Fabulous! Yosemite was the first American national park I was ever aware of. I would love to have visited. 🙂 🙂

  10. I can’t believe I have never been to Yosemite; it is a HUGE gap in my U.S. travel history. We knocked off a bunch of national parks and other attractions out west a few summer ago, but we absolutely must get to Yosemite soon. I am impressed with your willingness to include your dog pals in your plans. As a dog owner, I know it adds some complexity, and you guys just do it beautifully (and seemingly effortlessly, but I know it takes work!).

    • I have the same feeling about Yellowstone, Lexie. Can’t believe I have never made it out there. And, of course, many of the other NPs in the West. It is our duty and our pleasure to take care of the dogs we are house sitting when the owners are away and, it is our habit and desire to involve them as much as possible in our lives, just like we would do with our own dogs when we had them. If the dogs enjoy these adventures as well, it is a win-win for everyone. 🙂 And. nothing is probably as hard as sailing in the Caribbean on our boat with our two dogs, which we managed to do.

  11. Oh you are so lucky to go at this time of year! We went in late March last year but it was a bit more spring-like! So adorable of Lola photographed with the famous peaks. I’ve never been with dogs, mainly because we camp in the high country in Tuolumne Meadows where there are bears. Next time we do just the valley and can camp, we might be able to bring Aero and our new pup Brodie! Beautiful photos and so glad you got to experience the splendor of my backyard 😉

    • There were probably wild flowers when you went last year, Terri. Because of this extremely chilly and wet winter, things might have been delayed. Not sure. We would have enjoyed camping as well, but it was just too cold for that still. We don’t have the gear or the bodies to endure freezing temperatures. 🙂 Yes, visit the valley with your pups next time. It is quite busy, though…

  12. Liesbet if you can believe it we have not been to Yosemite. Once Dave is no longer working we will definitely do a long road trip in the US seeing some of the amazing parks. Your photos are fabulous. What wonderful weather you had and lack of crowds or perhaps that was just your good sense of getting there early or staying after 4pm. Good tip!

    • Oh Sue, you will enjoy Yosemite. But, it is crowded, almost always. There is no way to escape it. Do the popular stops before 10am or after 4pm and make sure you are well off into the back country on a hike or so, other times. 🙂 The trick is also to find a good parking spot before 9am and then take the free shuttle bus from there to reach sites and trails in The Valley. We couldn’t do this with Lola, but without a dog, there are more possibilities and alternatives.

  13. I can’t believe we haven’t been to Yosemite yet! It’s on the list. So many places, so little time!! Pasa buen dia!

    • Isn’t that the truth! Way too many interesting places, experiences and opportunities and way too little time… Have great day as well!

  14. Very beautiful and impressive!

  15. Having been privileged to visit Yosemite NP on several occasions, I find I fall in love with it each time. Whether it is climbing Half-Dome, gazing at the Tunnel View, or experiencing the mists of Nevada Falls, the park has so many gorgeous sights.

    • We’d love to go back and hike to the top of Half Dome one day, whenever we are without pets. The view from Tunnel View never gets old I’m sure, and it is probably possible to see the different moods of the valley in different seasons and times of the day. Have you ever seen the fire waterfall effect of Horse Tail Falls??

      On a different note… Inspired by your post about Marin (“Call of the Marin”) a little while ago, I finally made it to Bonita Lighthouse last Saturday. I was hoping to find that beautiful blue water of the ocean from your shots, but the sea was green. It was a nice visit, though. So much rain we have been having in Northern California. We are leaving today and, guess what, the predictions are wonderful, sunny and warm, from now on out. 🙂

      • Ha, the irony of it! I have experienced the weather gods’ jests many times while traveling. About Marin…I have noticed the Pacific there changes color according to the seasons. The bluer hues I caught in brief sunny moments. As for Horse Tail Falls…no, not yet though I’ve seen stunning photos…someday. Yosemite demands return trips because there is so much to admire!

      • Also, forgot to mention…SO happy my little story inspired your Marin visit and that you enjoyed the area!

  16. I’ve never been to Yosemite LIesbet, so thank you for sharing some most beautiful photos. The one with your dog standing stoicly in charge is beautiful. 🙂

    • Lola is a great poser! We are leaving her (and the house we took care of for two months) this evening and will miss her. You should get to Yosemite one day, Debby. The views and features are impressive. And, there are short walks to be done as well. 🙂

  17. The pictures with the pup are priceless. You have made me miss having a canine companion and wish that my last one (Nelson) had gotten to take a vacation with you and Mark. He would have loved it. Lola looks like she is in puppy heaven in every shot 🐶

    • We had such a great time with Lola, Lisa. Sometimes, we do feel that the dogs have a little vacation – a staycation – while their owners are away themselves. This house and pet sitting gig truly is a win-win situation for everyone involved! 🙂

  18. Never been, but your photos are gorgeous as always. Lola looks really happy there, almost like she’s posing in some pictures.

    • Lola was such a good poser, but you could see that by the end of the day, she was kind of tired of it. 🙂 There is so much beauty in Yosemite… Mark and I have to go back to do some bigger hikes (dogs are not allowed on those trails), when the weather is warmer and the crowds are “escapable”.

  19. Nice photos and post Liesbet. That looks like one lucky dog. We camped at Yosemite years and years ago, and I had forgotten how scenic it is. We love camping in the west, but given the distance from our home, we don’t do it as much as we’d like, and this post is a good reminder to make a plan. ~James

    • I hope you get out west again soon, James. While we are house sitting there, I often think about all the national parks “within reach” and I, too, look forward to visiting them extensively. Summer will hopefully allow us to use our tent again. As for Yosemite, we had forgotten about that first visit many years ago as well, which made it nicer to “rediscover” the sights. That being said, there is so much “unexplored” (by us) territory there that we will have to go back again, to do some hiking off the beaten track for example. Now that we have a NP pass, I am hoping we will be able to get out and about more to exciting destinations. But, it all depends on where we find the next house sits…

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