Rush Creek Lodge and Yosemite National Park

Yosemite national park had been our bucket list for a while, and the wedding we were attending in Napa gave us the perfect excuse to weave this into our trip out west. We made the four hour drive from the rolling hills of Napa, through the flat plains of Central CA, until we reached the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

For accommodations, we stayed with the Rush Creek Lodge. The resort boasts 143 rooms, suites, and hillside villas, and is only a few miles from the entrance to the National Park. Many of the rooms feature amazing panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Our room was in the perfect location with a view of the pool area and mountains. Inside the rooms have a new, clean, luxurious feel, with upscale bathrooms. We also had a nice deck to enjoy the scenery.

Outside the room amenities, the property itself features a ton of activities to enjoy while you're not in the national park. The main attraction is the outdoor heated pool and two large hot tubs. Our daughter, Hailey, had a blast in the pool and it looked like a lot of other families were getting equal enjoyment. The property also has on-site hiking trails, playground areas, and many other activities. They also have a dedicated recreation team that will help you blend your on-site and off-site activities for the perfect experience.

For food, they have a more casual tavern and also a traditional setting restaurant. We had dinner at the casual tavern every night and the food was excellent. Also, be sure to take advantage of complimentary s'mores nightly from 6-8pm by the pool!

When it came to the main attraction of Yosemite, we had two full days in the park. We felt like this was a good amount of time to see most of the main attractions if you are on limited time. On the first day we headed to the Yosemite valley which is the heart of the National Park. Here you'll find the main visitor centers, most of the attractions and iconic views.

After reaching the entrance to the park, which is only a few minutes away from Rush Creek, you'll reach the valley in a half hour or so. The road that circles the valley is a one-way loop so we'd recommend taking it slow and paying attention to the stops. We first stopped at Bridalveil Falls, which is a short and easy .5 mile paved trail walk to the view point.

From there, we next stopped at a great viewpoint off the road that gives you a look down the whole 
valley with views of the famous El Capitan rock face and half dome in the background. If you have a pair of binoculars or really you good eyes you may be able to spot climbers taking on this epic challenge.

After a few more scenic overlooks and photos, our next major stop was the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center and Lodge. This a good stop to plan around lunch as they have a number of simple food options. They also have other buildings that focus around history, current information, and a gift shop. It's easy to spend an hour or two here if you enjoy learning about the history of the park.

Next up we took a hike to Mirror Lake. This was one of the longest hikes we did at around 3 miles total. We came to find out the lake was dried up but we still caught some nice views of Half dome. From there we drove to our next destination, Glacier Point. This view point is actually from the top of the mountain looking down into the valley. Once thing to consider is that it's a long drive. It will take about 45 minutes to get to the viewpoint and another 45 to get back to where you started. We thought is was worth it though as the opposite perspective view is stunning. Also be sure to stop at 'Tunnel View' which can be found early in your ascent and offers a great look down the middle of the valley.

For day 2 we made the drive down Tioga Pass. This road runs somewhat parallel to the Yosemite Valley but offers perspective at a higher altitude.  First up we stopped at Tuolumne Grove, which is a nice short hike to a number a giant Sequoias. Plan on the hike taking a little over an hour. From there we kept driving down Tioga Pass stopping along the way at various lakes and view points to take photos. At the end of the road you'll eventually reach a gas station and restaurant called Whoa Nellie Deli. It was a great stop to sit outside and take in some beautiful views. We did the Tiago pass drive in about 4-5 hours total after the grove stop.

Overall Yosemite was an amazing experience and one of those places everyone that loves to travel should see in their lifetime! 

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