Visiting Yosemite might be exciting, but there are so many places to see there, if you carefully plan you could make the most of your trip.
A great resource is the nps page, http://www.nps.gov/yose/ Make reservations inside the park, read road conditions, what to see and timing. What im writing here is a bit tangential to what the nps website says, but the more the info the best.. so enjoy.
To start here is the map of the place.
The grey patch in the middle is the national park. Like you can see there are four entrances, one on each side (N,S,W,E). All the good stuff are in the valley, the waterfalls’, the village, the valley views, half-dome, el-capitan etc. There are several meadows and trails in the valley that would be great for day time strolls in Summer.
The less beaten stunners are on the west side though. Tulomne meadows is a great location, known for orgasmic sunsets and great hikes to isolated lakes that can be amazing during wildflower season. Heading even west you’ll get out of the park and into Lee Vining, a historic town with a character of its own. Where hwy 120 meets hwy 395 is mono lake a very old lake. The salinity is higher than sea water and there are salt tufa’s formed due to volcanic activity. Be sure to make a short trip to the visitors center, they talk about the origin of the lake and its current flora and fauna, some of them are believed to be pre-historic.
Going north on 395 you’ll run into a sign for Bodie. Its a pre-historic ghost town from the 1800’s. Its really frozen in time, and most of the buildings are maintained by a state fund as a state park. Go see for your self, it really looks haunted. The website states a story of a little girl who said “Goodbye God, im going to Bodie”.
Going a bit south from Lee Vining you’ll run into some magnificent vistas along 395. HWY 395 is scenic from start to end, roll down the windows and let the fresh air roll in. One the south side of the park there are multiple lakes that have year round activities. Even south is the pretty town of Bishop known for its home grown photographer Galen Rowell, be sure to visit their gallery – “Mountain Light photography“. Heading even south, there is a turnout for white mountains, the home of the Bristle cone pines. These are the longest living creatures, some of the trees here are 5000 years old. When first identified they taught human kind a lot about the past, including that the carbon dating process back then faulty.
Here is link about the place http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/about/
Finally, if you get a chance, go to the local book store and flip through this book.
The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite
It talks about seasonal information and what to expect. Great book if you are into photography.