Yosemite, Monterey, Big Sur, and Highway One- A California Road Trip

We Love California!!!

We recently road tripped and saw some of Nature’s most beautiful sights, from incredible waterfalls, to redwoods, mountain peaks, and beautiful miles of rugged coastline. All in one weekend.

 

Vernal Falls

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Yosemite Valley & The Mist Trail

 

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In Yosemite Valley, the Mist Trail begins by running alongside the Merced River. You’ll work your way up towards two incredible waterfalls; Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls.

This hike can be both family-friendly or challenging, depending on how far you’d like to go. The two times I’ve been on this hike, Vernal Falls just really amazed me. It is an incredible reward for the uphill hike.

If you keep going, you can get a great view of the valley from the top of the falls. Reaching this point is a moderate hike and it seems most hikers turn around here.

For the more adventurous, you can complete the strenuous hike to the top of Nevada Falls.

 

Be prepared to feel at least a little bit scared of heights!

Merced Ru

Merced River at the start of the trail

 

Yosemite Forest

Vernal Falls 2

Vernal Falls

 

 

My amateur skills do not do this waterfall justice.

Also, pictures don’t allow you to feel the vibration. You can’t hear the rumble. You can’t feel that sense that you’re standing next to something powerful until you’re actually there.

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I stood on a rock as close to the base as safely possible and I was soaked by the mist and force just blowing up from the falls.

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Base of Vernal Falls

 

You can go up a few hundred feet of steep stairs to see Vernal Falls from a different angle.

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This angle lets you see the valley too.

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As I said, at this point, most hikers turn around. HOWEVER!!! If you’re not already exhausted and you’re game for the strenuous hike, make the hike to the top of Nevada Falls. You will not be disappointed!

Nevada Falls

 

Once on top of Nevada Falls, I immediately felt that kind of thrill that comes with being really high up and a bit too close to the edge.

They have a bridge where you can stand above the water as it goes over the falls and plunges 594 feet down. Of course, that’s just the falls. You’re at 5,971 feet elevation at this point.

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A lookout point.

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Monterey, Big Sur, and the Highway One

 

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Driving up & down the coast can be a relaxing, yet exciting way to experience California’s beauty without too much hiking. A couple hours from Yosemite is Monterey, a coastal hub. We stayed at Inn by the Bay which is within walking distance of Cannery Row, and it’s near the Monterey Aquarium.

From there, you can take the famed 17 mile drive from Pacific Grove to Carmel, a quaint artistic colony.

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The Lone Cypress has stood here for over 200 years.

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Deer just chilling on a golf course

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The Highway One runs from Carmel through Big Sur to San Luis Obispo. You’ll drive over historic bridges through 123 miles rugged coastline. You are going to feel like you are in a car commercial. This is as California Road Trip as it gets.

I believe every Californian should experience the Big Sur Coast at least once to better appreciate our state.

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Point Piedras Blancas

 

As the Highway One begins to turn inland, we started spotting signs that read Elephant Seal Viewing Point up ahead.

WE HAD TO STOP.

There is something so much more exciting about seeing wildlife in its natural habitat. This viewing point lets everyone get up and close in a safe way.

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I really loved visiting this viewing point and I appreciate everything that the conservancy does to ensure a safe habitat for the elephant seal colony. If you visit, make sure and leave a donation! There are also volunteer guides who seem willing to answer any questions.

 

As for us, this was the perfect ending to our trip. We headed home back to Anaheim, California where we immediately started daydreaming about our next road trip.

For More California view Winter Hiking Mt Baldy

JP Sakamoto Ridge Runner

 

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