Travel Van Life

Van Life: Yosemite National Park

July 4, 2017
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Throughout our road trip, Colton and I have fallen in love with National Parks.  Each one is better and better. This did not change in Yosemite. In fact, Yosemite became Colton’s favorite spot on Earth. We planned on spending two full days exploring Yosemite, but Maeve had other plans for us. Our first tow of the trip was the day we were supposed to leave for Yosemite. She decided not to start, because part of the condenser melted from the heat. Instead of Yosemite, that day was spent at the mechanic.

About Yosemite

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Yosemite National Park is located in the Sierra Mountain Range in northern California. There are valleys, rivers, meadows, giant sequoias, wilderness, and beautiful waterfalls that make up the 1,200 square miles of this park. It’s open 24 hours a day and extremely busy in the summer. Be sure to check out the website to verify road conditions before your visit. Many of the north roads close between November and June.

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Where to stay

Ideally, book your stay well in advance (up to 5 months) through the National Park Service website to insure a camping spot in Yosemite. However, if you are one of the many people who can’t sit at your computer at exactly 7am PST and book it within seconds, there are other options just outside the park.

There are many adorable lodges, inns, and bed and breakfast driving in to the park. However, if you insist on camping, there are other options

High Sierra RV Park

We stayed at High Sierra RV Park the first night. It’s an RV park with clean showers and a great recreation room. Many campsites run along the river too. The ladies who work there are accommodating and helped us tremendously when we were having van issues. Although we were only here one night, it’s a great place to stay since it’s only an hour and a half drive to the Yosemite Valley visitor center.

Bass Lake Lupin campground

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Since we were unable to prebook any spots in Yosemite, we looked in to grabbing a first come, first serve spot.  None of the campgrounds that allowed first come were open , so we found a spot on Bass Lake at the Lupin campground.

This was a great spot to set up and spend a couple of nights. Each campsite has a lot of space. Although it is still an hour and half drive in to the park, the campsites are right next to the lake. You can rent a variety of water activities (jet skies, floats, tubes, boats, etc.) and spend some time out on the lake.

Grab a bite to eat at The Forks Restaurant and enjoy a slice of delicious pie. There are 3 other restaurants   at Bass Lake conveniently located by the campsites.

What to do

Although camping and backpacking are huge in Yosemite, there are plenty of other things to do.

Hike

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My favorite part of our entire trip was hiking in Yosemite. Colton and I took several trails and really got to see and experience Yosemite. Although it was a bit brutal, the mist hike is completely worth it. We got to the top, soaked and freezing, but quickly dried off in the sun and enjoyed the rest of the hike. Many of the trails intersect and split off to give you a variety of options and levels.

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Climb

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Yosemite is home to some of the best climbing in the world. Colton and I didn’t do it this time, but would love to our next time back.

Explore

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Ride the free shuttle to each of the stops, and get out to explore. You don’t have to hike all of the trails to see everything. Enjoy the visitor center and gift shop, and grab a bite to eat on the large patio beneath the trees.

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Take photos

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As with all parks, take photos. You will see a variety of animals, plants, and trees and have plenty of backdrops for gorgeous photos. Yosemite is truly a place where you can choose your own adventure or sit back and enjoy.
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Picnic

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Pack a lunch or grab one from the visitor center and have a picnic. Set up camp at one of the many picnic tables throughout the park, or take it with you on a hike and set up on a rock or by a waterfall. There are plenty of beautiful places to enjoy a quiet lunch with a view.

Swim

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Although many of the rivers are off limits for swimming right now due to high rapids and poor conditions, most bodies of water at Yosemite are swimmable. Mirror Lake is a great place to get a quick dip, since the hike from the shuttle stop to the lake is 1 mile with 100 ft. elevation.

Check out our other stops on our Van Life road trip, Big Bend National ParkMarfa, Texas, and Joshua Tree National Park and Los Angeles . 

Also, read more about Maeve, our 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia

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PIN for later

Have you been to Yosemite National Park? Will you visit? Leave me a comment below!

  • Marette Flora July 4, 2017 at 11:23 am

    I’ve always wanted to go to Yosemite. We love camping and outdoors activities!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      It’s such a gorgeous spot. So much to do and see.

  • Carmen // itsCarmen.com July 4, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I love that first photo! So cute! Hiking in Yosemite sounds so amazing! :]

    // itsCarmen.com

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      Thank you. It was the perfect photo spot.

  • Stephanie Lane July 4, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    1- I’m totally jealous of your van…very cool
    2. My son is a climber. One day he hope to be able to climb at Yosemite. It look to be a beautify slice of country.

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      Awh. Thank you. We like her a lot. Its the perfect place for climbers, that’s for sure.

  • April@LoveOurRealLife July 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Your images are breathtaking! Yosemite is on my bucket list. You gave some great ideas for when I make a trip someday!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:04 pm

      Thank you so much April. It’s a gorgeous place to visit.

  • Jess July 4, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    We’ve always been theme parks while my cousins’ families have been into National Parks. Have to admit, this looks beautiful! I’m not inherently a camper/nature girl, but I could totally enjoy Yosemite for a day!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      Awh. I love theme parks too, but there’s a special place in my heart for national parks. Yosemite is for everybody.

  • Debbie Savage July 4, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Your photos are absolutely stunning! We need to make an visit back up stat! We also enjoyed Bass Lake too! I love California! So, many great places to visit and Yosemite is top on that list!
    xo Debbie | http://www.tothineownstylebetrue.com

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      Thank you so much. Bass lake was so nice to cool off in. You are so right, California has so many cool places!

  • Jessica Sheppard July 4, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    So stunning! What fabulous views…Yosemite is on my bucket list! Such a fabulous spot, I’m sure the pictures can’t do it justice. Gorgeous!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:17 pm

      They really can’t. That’s all we kept saying. It is much more overwhelming in person.

  • Sue Tanya McHorgh July 4, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to Yosemite. I hope to go one day.

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      It’s a great spot! I hope you make it there.

  • Rachel Ritlop July 4, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    Yo u really took some great shots! Really captured the beauty and pureness of this national park!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Thank you! It’s hard to capture it all for sure.

  • Erin July 5, 2017 at 12:09 am

    Have to comment on your van, because it’s too cute! Your photos of Yosemite definitely make me want to plan a trip there. The views look spectacular!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Awh. Thank you! I love Yosemite.

  • Divya July 5, 2017 at 7:34 am

    I’ve been following your journey on Insta and, I’m not gonna lie, I was vicariously living your trip through each picture you posted! Yosemite is, hands down, one of my favorite places in the world. It makes you feel so SMALL!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      Awh. Thank you girl. It was such an adventure. It does make you feel small. Everything is gorgeous.

  • Beth July 5, 2017 at 8:31 am

    All of your photos are simply amazing! I would love to go to Yosemite someday. It really looks lovely!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      Awh. Thank you. It’s a really pretty place for sure.

  • Ruth Ridley July 5, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Yosemite is so special! I visited for the first time last year and I felt like I was in Jurassic Park!!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      Yes! That’s such a good description.

  • Julie July 5, 2017 at 11:45 am

    We loved Yosemite!! We went a few years ago but only for one day!! We did an eight mile hike- it was spectacular!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      Us too! It’s amazing how much you can soak in in one day.

  • Charlotte July 5, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    I’ve never been!! It’s on the list though–your pics are beautiful! Love to hike and haven’t gone camping in ages. Hope the van is doing better!! Ps–you really have the most gorgeous hair!!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      You should! It’s so fun! Maeve is doing much better. She just had to be a little stubborn. And thank you. 🙂

  • Lecy | A Simpler Grace July 5, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    I’ve always wanted to do the Yosemite thing. It’s definitely on the bucket list. Your little van is the cutest!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      It’s so worth it! Definitely take the trip. Thank you.

  • ShootingStarsMag July 5, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    These photos are gorgeous! The campground you stayed at sounded amazing. I’m so glad you were able to enjoy your time there – but sorry about the car trouble.

    Lauren

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      It was such a great place. Right on the lake and had a delicious restaurant nearby. Winner for sure.

  • Dominique July 6, 2017 at 2:52 am

    Looks like a gorgeous spot for hiking and swimming! Shame you were a little delayed getting there, but it looks like it was all worth it in the end 🙂

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 8:48 pm

      It was so worth t!

  • Jerica July 6, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    I just love your blog Jessica! I think it is awesome y’all are traveling in this fun van!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 8:48 pm

      Aww. I adore you, Jerica. Thank you!

  • Kimberly @ Berly's Kitchen July 6, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    These pictures are stunning. Yosemite looks like an awesome place to visit. We would love to go there one day.

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      It’s wonderful! You should definitely visit!

  • Crystal // Dreams, etc. July 6, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    I’ve never been to Yosemite but it’s on my list of places to go. Also, your van is amazing! I’d love to go on a road trip in it!

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 8:59 pm

      Thank you so much. It’s such an incredible spot.

  • Kamara July 7, 2017 at 5:40 am

    Wow, those views are simply incredible. This world is just full of gorgeous landscapes and nature! Hopefully I make it to Yosemite some day 🙂

    • Jessica July 7, 2017 at 8:59 pm

      It really is full of beautiful views. We are lucky to live here.