Getting the Most Out Of Your Yosemite National Park & June Lake Visit
Guest Blogger: Andrew Lowen
Yosemite is one of California’s greatest natural treasures and a national icon. The majesty of the mountains, the proud sequoia, and the vibrant blue of the glacial lakes can also be enjoyed from the neighboring June Lake. I have a lot of experience with the area, so I wanted to share my tips for the best possible visit.
The most popular area of Yosemite is the highly photographed Yosemite Valley. Anyone who sees it can’t deny its beauty, but in the summer months, it becomes very crowded. The same remarkable landscape can be seen in its northern counterpart, Hetch Hetchy Valley, but with a more exclusive feel. Tuolumne Meadows can also be a more secluded area to visit, and the colorful wildflowers and vibrant, clean water of the Tuolumne River are a balm for the soul.
To see multiple areas without strain or fuss, there are several bus tours. The Yosemite Valley Floor Tour takes 2 hours and changes with the seasons – travel is conducted in an open-air tram in summer, and in a heated coach with panoramic windows in winter.
Winter in Yosemite may be the quietest season, but the snowy splendor makes for a magical holiday visit. It’s the only time of year to view the rare and awe-inspiring firefall – in February, the sun meets the cascade down the side of El Capitan to create a 10-minute illusion of flowing lava. Besides this, seasonal activities mean there’s plenty of interest, from winter photography workshops and starry night sky events to special dinners.
The most notable dinners are at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly the Ahwahnee), an elegant and impressive building that has been graced with visits from John F. Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II. The Bracebridge Dinner is both a comedy performance and a historical reenactment, but also a chance to visit Christmas of times gone by. The Yuletide feast is accompanied by music in the grand atmosphere of the candlelit Dining Room.
Chefs’ holidays see the best talent in the country gather to give demonstrations and cook a luxurious five-course dinner for guests. Wine-lovers may prefer the Vintners’ Holiday in the fall, where the culminating meal is perfectly paired with rare and limited-edition vintages. Naturally well-attended, these events require booking, which can be open 6 months or so in advance.
The other main, premier accommodation can be found at Tenaya Lodge. A large advantage here is the Ascent Spa, which delivers state-of-the-art relaxation and wellness in the rejuvenating forest surroundings. It’s worth a visit even without a stay in one of the deluxe suites.
A few hours’ drive from Yosemite Valley is June Lake, known as the “Switzerland of California” for its charming alpine scenery. The more adventurous can enjoy fishing, hiking, and horseback riding, but it’s lovely to simply go for a drive around the sparkling lakes and indulge in some photography. The fall colors are particularly marvelous.
It’s another area perfect for relaxing and revitalizing, given the variety of restaurants and resorts. The Double Eagle Resort offers a suitable range of spa treatments; the Spa Concierge will assist in designing the ideal package.
My favorite lodging here is a luxury June Lake rental, in a homely yet modern chalet. The rooms have every comfort but maintain a natural charm. There is privacy if desired, or the sociability of a group – the indoor jacuzzi and outdoor hydrotherapy pools are relaxing options - and it provides access to June Lake and Yosemite; there’s simply no equal in the area.
Yosemite National Park and June Lake are full of luxurious options for a relaxing and enjoyable visit. These tips are how I combine the stunning beauty of the area with exclusive sights and events. Now everyone can see why I keep returning again and again.
Guest Blogger Profile:
Andrew Lowen and his family have been a part of the June Lake community since 1968, where they now own a Yosemite Gateway Chalet. They love June Lake and are eager to share the experience with those who appreciate the grandeur that the Eastern Sierras have to offer.
Heather: Yosemite is near and dear to my heart with years of family/friend vacations there. My parents dined at the legendary Ahwahnee on their honeymoon. Thank you for sharing this post on the natural beauty of this magnificent area of California, Andrew.