Yosemite has been a big huge significant influential part of our lives.  I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve visited Yosemite, long before the days of digital, that’s for certain.  Many, many years ago we took to traveling for the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend, almost always to the Sierra’s, the CA gold country and many visits to Yosemite.

Pines Lodge on Bass Lake

We love Bass Lake, which is just outside the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park and we spent many a Thanksgiving weekend at the Pines Lodge on Bass Lake.  Each year it would feel a little like returning to home away from home.  We’ve stayed in lodges, hotels, cabins, houses, wherever we thought it would be the most fun and wherever we could score a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  You’d be surprised (well, maybe you wouldn’t) by how many little cafes serve a traditional turkey dinner.

Perched!  One of my all-time favorite photos of our travels.

Deep Fried Turkey

One year, while visiting Sequoia and King’s Canyon, we were introduced to deep fried turkey.  It was actually really good!  But I digress… Yosemite National Park holds a special place in our hearts.  You don’t even have to hike or explore to be enthralled by the beauty of Yosemite, but we have done our share.  For me, the most memorable was the trail to Vernal Falls.

Vernal Falls
  • “…Vernal Fall (moderate to strenuous; Mist Trail closed in winter, but access available via the John Muir Trail, which may be snowy)Vernal Fall footbridge: 1.6 miles/2.6 km round-trip; 1.5 hours with 400 feet/122 m elevation gain. Vernal Fall: 3 miles/4.8 km round-trip; 3 hours with 1,000 feet/366 m elevation gain (via Mist Trail)You’ll find an excellent view of Vernal Fall from the footbridge at 0.75 miles (1.3 km). Beyond the bridge, at 0.2 miles, the Mist Trail and the John Muir Trail diverge. To proceed directly to the top of Vernal Fall, follow the Mist Trail 0.5 mile (0.8 km) up a steep granite stairway of over 600 steps. Prepare for slippery footing and a tremendous amount of waterfall spray in spring and early summer. This portion of trail is closed in winter due to risk of falling ice and rock…”   NPS.gov
That’s a Lot of Steps

Do you see those words in bold print?  “over 600 steps”  Yes, that’s right, I (we) climbed every single step and I’m fairly certain that is why it is my most memorable hike!  Our son, has returned to Yosemite many times on his own with friends and/or colleagues and he has climbed Half Dome and laid down to look over the ridge.  I’m glad I wasn’t there to witness that feat because just typing the words makes me swoon a bit.  As a mother who has a respectful fear of heights, I can’t imagine him doing such a thing, but I also know how thrilled he was to do so.

Thanksgiving in the Sierra Mountains

All of our Thanksgiving visits to the Sierra Mountains, Yosemite and the CA Gold Country had a profound influence on all of us. It was our annual trek to the mountains to breathe in the clear crisp air while rejuvenating our city worn spirits.  Our son’s passion for the environment was heavily influenced by the wonders of Yosemite, and that passion continues today in his work as an environmental attorney.

Half Dome


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Glacier Point, an area usually closed by snow at Thanksgiving, was open in 2007. We were thrilled! We saw some of the most spectacular sights ever! It opened a whole other view of Yosemite that is beyond mere words.

Read about Glacier Point here.

No, I wasn’t cold. Why do you ask?!

Tioga Pass Photo Array

In October of 2010, Abi and I were on a brief road trip to Las Vegas (to visit family) and we decided to take a different route home.  We discovered Tioga Pass (Hwy 120 – the eastern entrance to Yosemite) was open and there was no hesitation.  It was another first for us.  Although, I’m pretty sure as a little girl I made the trip with my parents.  Since I don’t really remember it, I decided to count it as a first.  It did not disappoint.

Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite

If you look closely, you can see the road cut into the side of the mountain. It was quite a climb!


Lee Vining Creek hydro electric project

Looking back at the lake!


Yosemite National Park

Any road trip through the state of California should include a visit to Yosemite National Park. Depending on the time of year do your homework to see which roads, campgrounds and accommodations are open.  Allow enough days to fully experience as much of the park as possible.  We’d highly encourage spring or fall visits as the summers are madly busy with visitors.



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