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Wednesday
Mar282018

Journal: Family time in Yosemite National Park

It had been 14 years since my first visit to Yosemite National Park and my first time back since then. Sharing Yosemite with my two young kids was even more amazing then I hoped. On my first visit, my husband planned the trip. He grew up going with his family and couldn't wait to share it with me. I didn't want to go. I wanted to vacation on the beach. I realize now it was because I would be out of my comfort zone. I had never visited a National Park and didn’t know what to expect. I am so grateful to my husband for not only showing me Yosemite but for showing me that glorious experiences can come out of being a little out of your comfort zone.

On my more recent trip in February with my husband and kids, we arrived to the Yosemite Valley Lodge late at night. When we opened the shades in the morning, we found ourselves surrounded by natural beauty including fresh snow on the mountain peaks. There was a chill in the air but nothing hats and gloves couldn’t fix. We enjoyed the day exploring and hiking. Our last few vacations had been to bustling cities. Spending time in nature was exactly what we needed. We all had a hop in our step as we hiked around.

Yosemite with Kids Highlights

Wildlife

Seeing wildlife in its natural habitat is always a treat. I believe it gives our children a profound respect for all things living. During our visit, we saw a blue heron, bugs, deer, a variety of birds, otter poop and a coyote.

Starry Night

One night of our stay we went on a guided tour, called Starry Night. The organized tour, which was through the National Park Service, had a 8:30pm start time.  My 3-year-old daughter fell asleep in the stroller on the way to the meeting spot.

The night sky was completely clear and filled with stars. It reminded me of planetarium shows we have been to, only this was the real thing. The guide used a laser pointer to show us which star or group of stars he was explaining. The stories the guide told were memorable and appropriate for all ages. My 5-year-old son learned a lot and talks about specific stars from that night. I enjoy travelling with my children as they can experience so much first hand, and this was another perfect example.

Ranger Talk

We attended a Ranger Talk while at Yosemite. I have to admit, we were pushed a little bit to do it as it was a requirement to complete the Ranger Program for our kids. It is one of the best things I’ve ever done. 

As we walked around the park, the Ranger taught us to move slow, listen, smell, and look. It was a learning experience and a reminder to do this when we returned home.

Nighttime Games

I brought a bag of games to play. It was such good family time and a fun way to end the night while we ate at the Yosemite Valley Lodge Lounge.

Giant Sequoias & Snow

We drove to the Tuolumne Grove which has about two dozen giant Sequoias since the Mariposa Grove is currently closed for renovation and set to reopen on June 15, 2018. Sequoias are only visible after a one-mile hike downhill.

Since we were there in January, the hike was in the snow and ice. We were prepared in our snow gear and the kids had so much fun playing in the snow. When we reached the Sequoia groves the kids had fun throwing snowballs at us. On our way back up the hill, we played hide and seek to make the time go by faster and keep my son from being carried. We headed back to the Yosemite Valley Lodge for some hot chocolate.

Ice Skating

My husband learned how to ice skate in Yosemite as a child so he was looking forward to taking our kids. I was a competitive figure skater growing up and therefore love any opportunity to lace my skates up. After a morning of hiking to Mirror Lake, we decided to go ice skating. It was the perfect afternoon activity. I was pleased to find out that they had skates small enough for my 3-year-old to rent. The sun was still shining as we stepped onto the ice. We were surrounded by a breathtaking backdrop.

The tradition of ice skating in Yosemite dates back to 1928. The Half Dome Village Ice Rink is an outdoor rink with a view of Half Dome. The ice rink in Yosemite is open from mid-November to mid-March.

Final Thoughts

Our time in Yosemite was one of my favorite vacations as a family of four. My husband and I challenge each other to visit new places, however I hope to return to Yosemite every year and make it our family winter tradition. The United States has so many National Parks that I would like to visit. It’s time to start making a list!

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Reader Comments (1)

I've been meaning to take the kids to Yosemite! Sounds like there is so much to do there with kids.

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