- By kevin
- On Apr 26, 2018
- North America
- Travel Tips
Like so many other American tourist destinations, crowds are the biggest obstacles to an enjoyable Yosemite vacation – approximately 4 million people visit each year. Explore the cities near Yosemite, and join our bus tour to experience the best family Spring Break destinations during your holiday there.
Best Family Spring Break Destinations:
"Giant" seems to be an understatement for this expansive grove of Sequoia trees in the southernmost section of Yosemite. Mariposa is one of three groves in the park where visitors can view sequoia trees. The distinction between Mariposa Grove and the others is that Mariposa is the largest, housing about 500 mature giant sequoia trees that are thousands of years old. Featured sights include the Fallen Monarch (a giant tree that fell hundreds of years ago) and the Grizzly Giant, which is estimated to be around 1,800 years old and is about 90 feet in circumference. There's also the fun California Tunnel Tree, which is the only sequoia in Yosemite that features a manmade tunnel carved out the middle of the trunk.
Previous travelers highly recommend a visit, even though it is a bit of a drive from Yosemite Valley (about an hour).
Keep in mind: Mariposa Grove has been closed for restoration since 2015 and doesn't plan on opening until June 2018. The restoration project is intended to improve the parking experience and add more trails. The grove's gift shop and popular tram tours will cease. If you're visiting before June, you can still see some of Mariposa's sequoias via the Outer Loop Trail, which passes by the upper grove. To access that, visitors must walk 6 miles one way from Wawona Road or Fish Camp to reach the sequoias.
Many travelers say the Mist Trail is one of the best hikes they have ever taken, but advise to be prepared. While visitors say the hike up along the falls is as scenic as ever, it is definitely strenuous. Even when the falls aren't at their peak (from late spring to early summer), it can still be pretty wet, so make sure to have shoes with good traction and bring a poncho or clothes that can get wet.
Be advised that because this trail is so popular, it gets crowded quickly. Take the hike slowly and be mindful of the moisture as well as the ground – loose, rocky terrain is present in some parts of the trail. There are restrooms posted at the trailhead, as well as vault toilets at the top of both Vernal and Nevada falls. The NPS estimates that you should carry about two quarts of water if you hike up to Vernal Fall and three to four quarters if you hike up to Nevada Fall. It is important that you stay on marked trails and do not swim in any portion of the falls – it is illegal. To get to the Mist Trail, you can take the Valley Visitor shuttle, available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. year-round, to shuttle stop No. 16. There are no set hours for this trail but the NPS advises not to hike this trail at night.