Weekend Road trip around Olympic NP

My friend Nick and I did a road trip around Olympic NP and checked out places I had on my bucket list! Here’s some idea’s and tips for your next road trip.

We left Saturday morning around 9:30 for our first destination.

The famous Vance Creek Bridge

This is the second tallest bridge in Washington State. Spanning 422 feet across and towering 347 feet above the creek below. Walking along this bridge is exhilarating, scary and dangerous.

There are 2 approaches to this bridge. One is right off NF-23 and the other, also longer, is off NF-2341/2199 but requires you to trespass on private property owned by the logging company. We chose the first approach that allowed us to legally hike as far as the bridge but we must stay off. To make sure no one tries climb up  they put barb wire all around the edge and started to disassemble the bridge and tracks, making the climb more difficult but also more dangerous.

After finishing with the bridge, we then, visited different beaches in Olympic National Park, located on the coast.

The Tree of Life

There is an extraordinary tree hanging on for dear life, although, it should have been dead years ago! The tree of life is miraculous! It is located at Kalaloch Beach, near the Kalaloch Campground.


Ruby Beach

I have seen so many amazing pictures from this beach that I’ve been spoiled. It’s very beautiful but in my opinion it’s better to go for a sunset.

There are 2 campgrounds near Kalaloch and Ruby Beach. Kalaloch Campground is open year-round (make sure to reserve a site, especially during the summer) and  South Beach is open from Memorial Day to Late September.

After Ruby Beach we drove to Third beach where we wanted to backpack and camp. For some reason, we decided to go to Second Beach instead. 1.4 mile roundtrip.

Second Beach

Well, our plan for the night changed but it was totally worth it. I saw the most beautiful sunset. The colors of the sky, the clouds, the rock’s shapes and the reflection took my breath away! If you don’t want or can’t camp on the beach, take a flashlight and hike back at night. This is my NUMBER 1 place from this trip so far. It was so amazing to admire the sky full of stars while eating around the fire.

In the morning, we had a cloudy and grey sunrise but it was still pretty anyway. Also, the temperatures are still chilly in April. So, I didn’t sleep well because it was pretty cold and I woke up every couple hours. But it was fun anyway and a nice first experience sleeping on the beach.

We went back to Third Beach around 8:30am. We walked on the beach as far as the waterfall on the left of the beach. It was nice and relaxing but I’m very glad we changed our plan the day before and went to Second Beach instead.

Third Beach



First Beach / La Push

The beach that everyone heard about from the famous movie Twilight. I guess we had to stop and check it out 😎


Rialto Beach

It was the last place we stopped before we headed home. We had time to do more but we were so exhausted from all the driving and the night we had. We were there for about an hour and 30 min. We walked as far as some rocks on the left and had fun walking and climbing around.


Tips:

☡ It’s bear area. Be very cautious and be sure to bring bear spray even if most people don’t. If you camp you will have to bring a bear canister to keep food in. Only bear canisters are authorized and can be rented at any ranger’s station. Hanging your food is not authorized because of the raccoons.

☡ Check the tides on the Olympic National Park’s website. Especially if you go to explore the beach and the tidepools. The best is during low tides and watch for the returning tide to avoid getting trapped by a rising tide.

☡ Wear insect repellent during warm weather.

🏡 Hotel: If you don’t camp, you can use Airbnb and get $40 off for $75 spent on your first stay. Click Here

What else to see?

Well, I already did some of them or just passed for this time but here’s some ideas:

  • Shi Shi Beach
  • Ozette Triangle
  • Cape Flattery
  • Lake Crescent
  • Port Angeles
  • Forks (if you are a fan of twilight 😉)

 

 

If you have any questions or if the post was helpful to you

Please leave a comment ✏

Check out my Instagram for more 📸

Bryce Canyon 

 

Bryce Canyon and its famous hoodoos

Bryce Canyon is an American National Park located in Southwesthern Utah. It is known for its incredible Hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion) and it is the largest collection of Hoodoos in the world!

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Getting to Bryce Canyon :

The closest major airports are in Salt Lake City (Utah) located 260 miles North of the park and Las Vegas (Nevada) located 270 miles Southwest of the park.

Getting around in the Park :

All roads are paved inside the park so don’t worry about needing a certain car. There is snow during winter but the Park plows and sands the road after heavy snowstorms. Some roads may be temporarily closed due to icy winter conditions. The park is open year-around.

The Park offers free shuttle that takes visitor to the Park’s most popular viewpoints, trails and facilities.

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Where to sleep ?

Campground : $20/per tent-site/per night and $30/per RV-Site/per night. Reservations can be made by phone or online from 6 months to 2 days in advance.

  • Sunset Campground : 100 sites. 20 tent-only sites and 80 RV & tent sites (first-come, first-served) and 1 Group site (available by reservation) CLOSED from mid-October through mid-April. This campground is closest to the best hiking trail which begins and ends at Sunset Point
  • North Campground : 99 sites. 13 RV sites (by reservation) and 86 RV & tent sites (first-come, first-served). At least one loop is open year-round.

Backcountry camping : Permits are required for all overnight stays ($5/person). You can purchase the permit at the Visitor Center. Reservations may be made up only 48h in advance, and only at the Visitor Center. There are 8 campsites on the 22.9 miles Under-the-Rim Trail and 4 campsites on the 8.8 miles Riggs Spring Loop Trail.

Lodging : Bryce Canyon Lodge. Open late March through early November. Reservations by phone or online.

What to do ?

  • RANGER PROGRAMS
  1. Geology talks (year-round)
  2. Rim Walk (Spring, Summer & Fall)
  3. Kids Programs (Summer)
  4. Evening Programs (Summer & Fall)
  5. Full Moon Hikes (Full Moon nights)
  6. Astronomy Programs
  7. Snowshoe Hikes (Winter)
  • Hiking : Easy, Moderate, Strenuous
  • Backcountry hiking (Backcountry Camping permit required)
  • Private Horse & Mule Riding (April 1 – October 31)
  • Drive the scenic overlook

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My experience

Bryce Canyon was one of the places we visited during the ROAD TRIP we did last year in March/April.

We spent one full day there. It was totally breath taking. The hoodoos are so beautiful. The colors red and orange are really amazing. The pictures don’t do it justice!

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We started with 2h of horse/mule riding. It was really fun and not too expensive ($65/pers). We got a picture of us by a photographer for $10 each. It’s a special way to explore Bryce Canyon because this trail allows horse only. You can book your tour online with Canyon Rides.

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After that we started at Sunset Point and hiked down a part of Navajo Loop Trail (1.3 mile roundtrip). We reached Queens Garden Trail (1.8 mile roundtrip) at the bottom and finished at Sunrise Point. It was a short and easy/moderate hike, like a loop, that goes down into Bryce Amphitheater. It took us about 2h. I really liked it. It was amazing to hike between the hoodoos. Then, we walked Rim trail between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point to join our car (1 mile). It’s an amazing view from the top.

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Navajo Loop Trail
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Queens Garden Trail

We did Mossy Cave Trail (.8 mile round trip) easy hike that leads to a mossy overhang and small waterfall. We wanted to see the waterfall but I was not aware that the waterfall flows from May to October 😅 This trail is located outside of the park on Hwy 12 going toward Tropic.

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Finally, we did a part of Fairy Land Loop Trail as far as Tower Bridge (3 mile roundtrip) just before night and kept going on our road trip toward Zion Canyon, which I’ll write about later because I’m going back there in June and I’ll have so much more to say about it 😎

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Pictures at the bottom are taken at the top of Tower Bridge

I think 1 day is a little bit too short to fully enjoy Bryce Canyon. If you can, you should spend 2 days and camp into the park or stay at the lodge.

If you have any questions or if the post was helpful to you

Please leave a comment ✏

Death Valley 

Death Valley

La Vallée de la Mort in french

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Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California near the border of Nevada. It’s one of the hottest places in the world at the height of summertime.

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When to go ?

The best time to hike in Death Valley is from November through March due to the very high temperatures in the park. Summers are extremely hot and dry. Daytime may exceed 120°F / 49°C.

Where to land ?

The closest airport is Las Vegas. About 2h30 drive. It’s almost 5h drive from Los Angeles.

What kind of car should I rent ?

We rented an economic car and we could easily drive on the unpaved road of Twenty Mule Team Canyon. Some people were more original… 😎

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It doesn’t mean you can drive everywhere with an economic car. Farabee’s Jeep Rental now have an outlet located in Furnace Creek. These jeeps are outfitted for rugged backcountry road use.

Where to sleep ?

Camping : There are 9 different campgrounds. They are all first-come/first-served except for Furnace Creek campground. Reservations are available for the camping season of October 15 to April 15 by phone or online. Acording to the National Park’s website, it’s very rare for all campgrounds to fill. Prices : From free to $22

Backcountry camping : The backcountry permit (free) may be obtained at the visitor center or any ranger station. Check out the National Park’s website or directly with a ranger to see where the backcountry camping is not allowed.

Lodging : Reservations online

Hotel or RV campground : Outside of the park (Amargosa, Pahrump, Beatty)

What to do ?

  • Wildlife watching : Death Valley’s great range of elevations and habitats support a variety of wildlife species, including 51 species of native mammals, 307 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles, 3 species of amphibians and 5 species and 1 subspecies of native fishes
  • Hiking : easy, moderate or difficult. It’s up to you 😉 you can find some ideas below in “my experience” or check out the National Park’s website for more.
  • Backpacking (must obtain a free backcountry permit)
  • Biking & Mountain Biking : Death Valley has more than 785 miles of roads including hundreds of miles suitable for Mountain Biking

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My experience

My best friend and I went to Death Valley at the end of March. We did a road trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and drove from L.A to Death Valley. We had a great time. But a bit scary when we got caught in two sands storms! Once while driving and the next while we were outside of the car taking pictures. Then we almost ran out of gas as we entered the park. Lucky there was a gas station close although gas tends to be much more expensive close to the park.

We booked a night in a really nice RV for $52 at Pahrump (Booking.com) which is about a 1h drive from Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

All in all, it was a great trip. It’s very nice to drive through Death Valley National Park, I love the desert. It’s incredible how the scenery can be totally different from one place to another.

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What did we do ?

First day (Half day)

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White Gold
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Badwater Bassin : Surreal landscape of vast salt flats. 1 mile
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Natural Bridge : 1 mile

 

Second day

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Zabriskie Point : The most popular viewpoint in the park
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Mosaic Canyon
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Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes : The largest dune field in the park. 2 mile
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Salt Creek Interpretive Trail : 0.5 mile
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Golden Canyon Interpretive Trail : 3 mile
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Twenty Mule Team Canyon : 2.7 mile one way loop drive (unpaved)

 

There are other places that you should check out if you have time :

  • Dante’s View : At 5,475 ft, the most breathtaking viewpoint in the park.
  • Devil’s Golf Course : An immense area of rock eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires (unpaved access road).
  • Artist’s Drive : A 9 miles scenic loop drive. This road is one-way and is only drivable with vehicles less than 25ft in total length.

 

Other things to see ?

Death Valley National Park has over 5,300 square miles of desert and mountains, making it the largest national park in the contiguous United States. The possibilities for discovery are ENDLESS!

If you have any questions or if the post was helpful to you

Please leave a comment ✏

Grand Canyon 

The most famous and spectacular

National Park in the USA

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Where should I land ?

Either Las Vegas or Phoenix.

From Las Vegas to the South Rim, it’s 4h15 drive if you use Google maps but you should round up to 5h to be safe. If you have time, you should definitely stop by Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours located just 45min from Las Vegas. It’s the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada. You can do the historic Mine tours ($12.50 for an adult / 1h10) or just walk around like we did. It’s very cool.

Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours

It’s faster from Phoenix with a 3h30 drive when using Google maps, but consider 4h to be safe.

What kind of car should I rent ?

Whatever you want. You can rent an economic car cause you won’t have to drive on difficult roads. If your group is more than 2 or 3 people, you should rent a van or a RV. It’s fun to go for road tripping and you can sleep in it.

Where to sleep ?

Depends on if you prefer adventure or comfort and your budget. Sleeping in the National Park’s Lodges is expensive (prices start at $100). I will recommend Flagstaff which is 1h30 from the South Rim. Or you can camp in the park. The most popular Campground is called Mather Campground ($18/night), you have to make a reservation and if you plan to go in the summer you should make it as early as possible. If it’s already full you can sleep at Desert View Campground which is first-come, first-served.

If you wish to camp anywhere in the park other than in developed Campgrounds, you must obtain a backcountry permit. You have to submit the permit request form either by fax or by mail. Permit requests are not accepted by telephone or by email. APPLY AS EARLY AS YOU CAN!!! (About 4 months before)

South Rim or North Rim ?

The South Rim is the most popular and visited and it’s accessible year around. The North Rim is closed for the winter through May 15 for the 2017 season.

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Moran Point

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From Bright Angel Trail

Transportation inside the Park :

You can park your car at different places and take the Shuttle (Refer to the map). The shuttles cover most of the park but you will have to take your car on the Desert View Drive that leads to Desert View Watchtower and the Campground. Many overlooks along the way.

What to do ?

Many activities are possible :

Guided Tours :

  • South Rim Bus Tours
  • Bicycle Rentals and Guided Bicycle Tours – South Rim
  • Mule Trips – North and South Rim
  • Guided hikes with a Park Ranger (Free) – North and South Rim
  • Raft Trips
  • Air Tours
  • Jeep and Van Tours

Hiking :

Many options are available for day hikers. The South Rim and the North Rim offer Rim Trail Hikes that have spectacular views. Or you can choose to day hike into the Canyon. The most popular hikes on the South Rim are Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail.

Hiking into the Canyon can be very dangerous (Falls, heat stroke, dehydratation). Over 250 people are rescued from the Canyon each year. Be prepared for a safe and enjoyable hike. Bring enough water and enough food. Don’t underestimate the wilderness and overestimate your own abilities. Wear comfortable hiking boots.

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Bright Angel Trail 

Havasu Falls

One of the most beautiful, amazing, incredible blue green waterfalls. Hidden in the Grand Canyon and DIFFICULT (almost impossible) to get reservations for. The Havasupai Tribe administers the land, which lies outside the boundary and jurisdiction of Grand Canyon National Park.

Campground reservations started on February 1st and were only taken by phone. It was impossible to get someone on the phone, all lines were busy. The ones who where lucky to make a reservation spent their entire day calling multiple times. For what I know, the Campground is already full for the 2017 season.

It requires a 10 mile hike EACH WAY to the waterfalls of Havasupai. NO DAY HIKING ALLOWED. You must obtain a reservation and permit or they will turn you away. Also, it can be very dangerous to attempt this hike in one day. Temperatures can reach 115°F (46°C)

Cost :

  • Entry Fee : $50 per person + 10% tax
  • Campground (300 sites) : $25/person/night + 10% tax
  • Environmental fee : $10 + 10% tax

 

NOT MY PICTURE

My experience

I went to the Grand Canyon (South Rim) twice and I’m planning to go again in June. Both times I landed in Las Vegas and made a stop at Eldorado Canyon Mine Tour.

The first time was in December 2015 with my best friend Bruna. We planned to stay 2 days, drive at each overlook and do at least one hike into the Canyon. I pictured the Grand Canyon always warm and sunny. What a surprise! It was COLD and SNOWY! When we arrived on the afternoon, we were totally exhausted after a crazy night in Las Vegas and 5h drive. So we decided to drive from the Visitor Center to Grand View Point and stop at each overlook. The first time in the Grand Canyon is magical and totally breath taking. We were so excited and couldn’t believe our eyes. A DREAM CAME TRUE ❤ We spent the night at a couchsurfer’s place inside the park. We planned to stay 2 nights there but it was very uncomfortable to sleep because (funny story) the very nice guy who welcomed us snored TOO LOUD 😅  We were too exhausted and wanted to find another place for the second night. Finally the 2nd day was snowy and foggy like crazy. No view of the canyon. So we decided to make a snowman ☃ and we spent the night at Flagstaff. We drove on a part of the famous Route 66 on our way back to Las Vegas and found a nice and weird town.

Route 66

The second time was in March 2016 with my boyfriend. This time the weather was way better. Cold at night but warm during the day. We started early in the morning and walked part of the South Rim Trail from Bright Angel Lodge to Mojave Point. Then we did some of Bright Angel Trail (6 miles out and back). We were done around 4pm, stopped at some overlooks on Desert View drive and headed to Page where we caught the sunset at Horseshoe Bend.

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I just requested the Backcountry permit for Bright Angel Campground in June 2017. This time I want to do backpacking and sleep in the canyon. Hope I get the permit. FINGERS CROSSED 🍀

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If you have any questions or if the post was helpful to you

Please leave a comment ✏

Road Trip #1 : California-Nevada-Arizona-Utah (March/April 2016)

A Road Trip is an amazing way to discover a country and especially in the USA. The scenery is just breath taking. It’s like a show from your car. Also, you better like driving cause you are going to drive for long hours and some roads are straight and endless. There are so many different Road trips you can do. Depends on how many days or weeks and what you want to see. Here are some ideas… 🚗

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9 DAYS – 2 PARTS

For some reason my best friend Bruna couldn’t make the entire road trip with me. My boyfriend decided to join me for the second half. This is why I chose to land in Las Vegas. Otherwise a start in Los Angeles would have been the best. I spent 4 days with Bruna in Nevada and California and 5 days with my boyfriend in Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

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HOW MUCH DID IT COST ?

☆ Flight : $340 / pers (from Seattle)

☆ Rental : $290 (Enterprise) / 3 pers

☆ Gas : About $225 (~2000 miles) / 3 pers

☆ Hotel : $300

  • 2 nights = Couchsurfing = FREE
  • 1 night = RV = $52 / 2 pers
  • 5 nights = Hotel = $248 / 2 pers

☆ Visit :

  • $86 Universal Studio Los Angeles (Cheaper online) / pers
  • $80 National Parks Annual Pass
  • $20 Monument Valley
  • $28 Antelope Canyon / pers
  • $65 Canyon Trail Rides Bryce Canyon (Horse ride) / pers

 

I planned and booked everything about a month before. The earlier you book, the cheaper you will pay. You definitely can find a flight for Las Vegas for less. If you are under 25, you will pay more for the rental because of the insurance. It’s also more expensive if you drop the car off in a different place than where you picked it up. I usually book my flight with Kayak, the car with Rentalcar.com and the hotel with Booking. 

I like to use Couchsurfing when I’m travelling in the City, either for the night or just to hang out. It’s a nice way to meet people, share culture and whatever you like, and you have someone to show you around or give advice about where to go. Usually, you’ve already researched online what you want to do and what you want to see but they can advise you about places less touristic.

 

THERE WILL BE A POST IN MORE DETAIL ABOUT EACH DESTINATION

 

Los Angeles

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Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles

Death Valley

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Zabriskie Point, Death Valley

Click here to read the Death Valley blog

Grand Canyon

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South Rim, Grand Canyon

Click here to read the Grand Canyon blog 

Horseshoe Bend

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Sunset, Horseshoe Bend

Antelope Canyon

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Monument Valley

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Click here to read about the Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon & Monument Valley Blog 

Grand Staircase Escalante

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Spooky Gulch, Grand Staircase Escalante

 Bryce Canyon

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Click here to read about the Bryce Canyon blog

Zion

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From Angels Landing Trail, Zion

 

🚗 Have fun and Drive safe 🚗

If you have any questions or if the post was helpful to you

Please leave a comment ✏

Yosemite in Winter

Who doesn’t like snow? It beautifies everything it covers that’s why we call it WINTER WONDERLAND… ❄

I went to Yosemite during the summer (will be another post) and I can tell you it’s another world during the winter.

From Tunnel View – El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls

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Winter Road Closure 

Tiago Road (Hwy 120 through the park) and Glacier Point Road are closed for the season due to snow (chains are often required) between November and May or June. Check out Yosemite NP’s website.

Hiking 

In my opinion the most beautiful and easiest hike is Mirror lake. You won’t be dissapointed by the reflection.

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Unfortunately Mist Trail that leads to Vernal and Nevada Falls is closed. They are both very beautiful and popular. I walked about .1 mile to get a picture of Vernal Fall. Just amazing.

I just learned there is a way to get Nevada Fall, by the Muir Trail there is a winter route.

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The Yosemite Falls is North America’s tallest waterfall, which rises 2,425 feet above the Valleyfloor. This trail starts near camp 4, it’s a steep and strenous hike. On your way to the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome and Sentinel Rock. Something that particularely impressed me was the sound of the waterfall, like thunder. The waterfall is also pretty amazing to watch from Yosemite Valley.

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And wherever you go, never forget to have fun ❤