Thanksgiving in Yosemite

Happy Thanksgiving! I just wanted to thank each one of you for all of your support this past year. Thank you for reading and following along with our journey. This blog has been such a fun project for me and your support means so much. Thank you!

TAGS: Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography

Last year we spent our Thanksgiving in Yosemite National Park. Our friends, Jakub and Kaley, drove out to join us in California. They were not only in the middle of an awesome road trip, but they were also on their honeymoon.

Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends

Jeremiah and I arrived in Yosemite a few days before they were to meet us. Jeremiah had to work on Monday, so we stayed in a small town outside of the park to have access to phone and wifi. He took Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday off so we could stay in the national park when our friends arrived.

I will never forget the first time we drove down into the Valley. Clouds were dark and low so we figured we wouldn’t be able to see much. The weather only enhanced the drama of seeing the Valley as it opened up. The view made me gasp as I saw Half Dome way off in the distance. We pulled over to try to take it in. No photo can do this place justice.

Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends

We couldn’t stay at the pullout long because those same gray clouds were also chasing daylight out and the ranger station was closing soon. We were on a mission to see if we could reserve a camp spot in the valley over Thanksgiving.

Our plan, which was created in the midst of our lack of planning, was to snag one of the first-come, first-serve sites at the campground in the Valley. Rather than dragging the camper all the way down there, we left it outside of the park while we checked out what was available. We quickly realized our options were bleak, based on how the ranger clinched her teeth and tilted her head downward towards the highlighted campground map. She ran her finger over the map while shaking her head “no”. We were spoiled. From the end of summer up until that particular day, we had endless availability of campsites and the ability to just wing the majority of our nightly stays. Who knew so many people made plans to stay in the park for Turkey day?

Since all of the other campgrounds in the Valley had already closed for the season, we quickly scrambled to form a Plan B. We headed to our second option when we learned there was another open first-come, first-serve campground in YNP. We drove 40 minutes outside the Valley to the Hodgdon Meadow Campground. I was slightly anxious since over 200 spots were filled at Upper Pines Campground. I’m not sure if we would have found a Plan C. We took a right into the pitch black campground; our headlights hit the reflective markers to indicate campsites. There was not another soul in sight. We walked around with our flashlights and picked out which one would be best. We also picked out a few others for backup in case a swarm of people came in overnight.

The upside (or at least what I told myself since we couldn’t stay in the valley due to our lack of planning for Thanksgiving) was that we would get to see that breathtaking view of Half Dome every trip to the Valley.

What we couldn’t see in the dark the night before was the giant redwoods that hovered over all the campground sites. Luckily, no one came in overnight so we had our pick. We set everything up, including our pain-in-the-butt porch extension, to give us some extra space. We anticipated that our small living quarters would get pretty crammed with our two friends and giant lap dog for a few nights. We headed into town so Jeremiah could finish work, I could grocery shop, and let Kaley and Jakub know where they could find us later that night.

This campground ended up working out just fine because the sites had plenty of space between them, unlike the one in the valley.

Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends
Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends
Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends

November 21st – Monday night

Jakub and Kaley arrived and we gave them our 30-second home tour before we drove down to the Valley. We walked to the base of Bridalveil Falls and picked out which hike we wanted to do the next morning. We headed back to the camper and grilled out. We sat around the fire and swapped road stories. It was a great first night!

Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends
Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends

November 22nd – Tuesday

We woke up early to hike the 4 Mile Trail to Glacier Point. The trail switchbacks the entire way up from the valley floor. Glacier Point Road was closed, so the only people up there were ones who hiked.

Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends
Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends
Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends
Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends
Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends

November 23rd- Wednesday

We walked around the valley floor and took a hike to Mirror Lake. We also went to the Ansel Adams Gallery. It was the first time I had seen some of his originals in person.

Later that evening we hiked halfway up to Inspiration Point. When we realized we wouldn’t make it to a good spot to watch the sunset, we decided to head back down to Tunnel View.

We had out Thanksgiving dinner that night over the campfire.

Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Glacier Point, Four mile trail, Yosemite Valley, travel photography, Mirror Lake
Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends
Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends

November 24th- Thanksgiving

Jakub and Kaley left that morning so they could begin their trek back to the East coast.

It snowed after they left. We packed up the camper and headed back outside of the park so we could have water and electricity.

Later that afternoon, Jeremiah and I walked the Sequoia Grove Trail which was covered in snow and ice. Later that day, we drove back down to take photos of El Capitan and Merced River.

Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Glacier Point, Four mile trail, Yosemite Valley, travel photography, Sequoia Grove

November 25th- Friday

We hiked to Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail. There were plenty of people on the trail up until the base of Vernal Falls. As soon as the trail started to climb, the crowd thinned out. I stopped several times, not only to catch my breath, but to also take in the sights of the granite walls. They were absolutely stunning.

Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Glacier Point, Four mile trail, Yosemite Valley, travel photography
Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends
Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Glacier Point, Four mile trail, Yosemite Valley, travel photography

November 26th- Saturday

Our plan was to leave on Sunday because Jeremiah had a flight that took off Monday morning out of Fresno. The weather took a turn and the prediction was 8-16 inches of snow Saturday night/early Sunday morning. So, we decided to pack it up and head out, so we wouldn’t have trouble getting Jeremiah out in time for his flight.

Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends
Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, hiking, day hikes, Half Dome, El Capitan, Keep It on the Road, travel photography, Thanksgiving, friends

Last Thanksgiving was so memorable! This Thanksgiving we are spending time with both our families and so glad to be back with them! I hope you have a wonderful day!

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