Yosemite High Country


When I first called the Evergreen Lodge to book our tours, I asked the guide for advice.  I was about to book two Yosemite Valley Tours, which were essentially the same thing.  The voice at the end of the phone said, "If I were you, I would take your second tour into the High Country."

"The High Country?" I repeated.

"Yes!" the guide, Ryan, answered. He continued, "When I first came to Yosemite, I thought I would love it because of the Valley, but I fell in love with the High Country instead. You have to see it if you truly want to experience everything Yosemite has to offer.  Also, you're coming at a good time of year.  The Tioga Road is closed during the winter, but it usually opens sometime in late May or early June.  You should be able to see the High Country without a problem."

A part of me was still a little skeptical about seeing "the High Country" as it wasn't the popular part of the park with the Merced River, the Giant Sequoias, or the famous mountain views.  Still, I let him book us to visit this "less traveled part of the park."  It was a wise decision.  Like Ryan (the guide), I fell in love with the High Country too!

We met our tour guides (one originally from Alaska and the other from Hawaii) bright and early on Thurs. morning.  To our surprise, only our family booked the trip.  So, we had TWO tour guides--one an expert and one a novice in training--to provide us with a full day's worth of sightseeing in the mountains along the Tioga Road.  We learned so much about the park and had interesting conversations about Native Americans, conservation, trees, insects, plants, and animals.  The pictures that follow show the full-day trip we took through the Sierra Mountains to the East side of Yosemite before turning around and driving two hours back to our camp.  (Yosemite is about the size of the state of Rhode Island.)

This first stop was called Lukens Lake.  It was a leisurely mile and half hike from the road with beautiful views of Sequois and wild flowers.  The lake was clean and pristine, feeling untouched by man.

The next stop was Olmsted Point.  Here we came "face to face with massive glacial rocks left behind by 4,000 foot deep glaciers."  The majestic view of granite slopes and rocks were carved millions of years ago by these glaciers. 
This was my favorite view in Yosemite.

The view from Olmsted Point looks as if the mountains are covered in snow,
but instead, we are looking at the color of the granite rock.

The next stop was Tenaya Lake (which is at an elevation of 8,150 feet). 
The lake is fed 100% by snow melt, so it's cold but pristine.

Tenaya Lake is a popular destination for boating, swimming, and getting married.
Here we walked to an elevation of 10,000 feet, so we could get a glimpse of Tuolumne Meadows below. 
Tuolomne Meadows is surrounded by even higher granite domes and peaks.

The Tuolumne River.  (One side has snow covered mountains and the other side is desert.)  This is the "end" of the park.

I LOVED this place.  On the inside, it is nothing more than a simple convenience store with a few souvenirs, but it is one of the few stops along the Pacific Crest Trail.  We soon noticed that the place was a rest stop for real-deal hikers, ones that had been hiking for days, weeks, or even months. (You could tell, without being rude, because they smelled as if they hadn't showered in a while.)  The movie, Wild, is a biography of a woman that hiked 1,100 miles of the 2,663 mile long Pacific Crest Trail.
The High Country became my favorite part of our Yosemite trip. If I was younger, back to the days when I didn't have a career or a family, I would be interested in hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but...at least I could say I got a tiny glimpse of the experience.  There is just something special and enchanting about hiking through these groves, valleys, and forests.  Unlike the "woods" in Connecticut, which are filled with 70 to 100 year-old trees (because the entire state was deforested and turned into farmland), these forests are thousands upon thousands of years old.  I truly felt like I was living back in history and that was magical!


  1. It looks amazing! What a great experience.

  2. What an amazing trip! You have inspired me! WOW! Thanks for sharing - those are some beautiful pictures!


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