Yosemite Falls
Where is Parker Parked

What National Park Did Parker Park Himself In This Time?

By now you’re probably well aware of Parker Flatly’s obsession with America’s National Parks. One of the very first National Parks that he ever parked himself in was this incredibly beautiful place nearly 1,900 miles from his home in Minnesota. Take in the pictures and follow the clues to see if the info can help you reveal this special spot.

Parker's flight to Yosemite
Parker gazes out the airplane window at the Rocky Mountains below.

Since the park was such a long way from home, Parker started his trip by boarding an airplane. The 3-hour flight passed directly over the Rocky Mountains and continued all the way to the coast. The ocean (actually, a very recognizable Bay) would be the starting point of this journey.

The Golden Gate Bridge as viewed from China Beach
Parker started his National Park trip at this famous city by the bay, viewing one of the most iconic bridges in the United States … The Golden Gate.

After viewing the city’s most well-known tourist attraction from a private spot called China Beach, Parker needed to secure some transportation for the rest of the week. Since cable cars weren’t set up to take him the full 195 miles to the park entrance, he rented a car instead.

The drive to the Sierra Nevada mountain range took about 4 hours. (Maybe a bit longer, after that quick stop at the Route 99 winery along the way.) By the time the Jeep had reached the approximately 4,000-foot elevation of the Arch Rock Entrance on the western edge of the park it was beginning to snow. At this point 4-wheel drive or tire chains were required or the park rangers would be turning patrons away at the gate. Fortunately, we heeded the warning of the rental car associate and upgraded to a 4-wheel drive Jeep back in the big city. (Read a full account of the trip here.)

The centerpiece of Yosemite National Park is Yosemite Falls
Parker stands at the bottom of the most iconic waterfall in this National Park, which also happens to share the park’s first name.

Once inside the gate the views just kept on coming. Rain had preceded the snow, so the waterfalls were flowing strongly. The namesake of the park was one of the first that we stopped and gawked at. Believe me, 2,425 feet looks awfully impressive when you are standing at the bottom and looking up. And it should. That’s almost a half mile drop. At that height it is the second highest waterfall in the United States. You’d have to travel to Hawaii to find one higher.

El Capitan in Yosemite National Park
El Capitan stands tall, towering over the valley and framing many beautiful views throughout the park.

If it’s impressive mountains that you’re looking for, this park contains a couple of the most well-known rock formations in the country. In fact, El Capitan was featured in the movie, Free Solo, a documentary on Alex Honnold’s journey toward his rope-free climb of this intimidating mountain. But “the Captain” doesn’t stand alone. With its smoothly rounded sides and vertical face, Half Dome is also an easily recognizable, very popular chunk of granodiorite that is sure to catch the eye.

Half Dome at Yosemite National Park
Parker Flatly uses iconic Half Dome as a stunning backdrop for one of his photos.

 

Tunnel View at Yosemite National Park
With El Capitan on the left, Half Dome way back in the distance on the right, and the entire famous valley sprawling out behind him, Parker enjoys Tunnel View … one of the most photographed spots in the world!

One of the most popular overlooks in the park is Tunnel View, just off of Wawona Road. This particular spot has been deemed the most photographed spot in the world. From this location the eye can take in a majestic panoramic view encompassing a valley of trees, El Capitan, Half Dome, Sentinal Rock, Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall.

Wawona Tunnel, near tunnel view overlook
Parker blocks traffic at the Wawona Tunnel (near the Tunnel View Overlook,) as the snow on the other side created hazardous driving.

If you continue through the Wawona Tunnel you can drive to Glacier Point Road, which Parker was told provides a spectacular overlook of Mirror Lake, a couple of more waterfalls (Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall,) plus the valley and the iconic mountain ranges. Further south you can get to Mariposa Grove containing some giant sequoia trees. Unfortunately, a foot of snow on the other side of the tunnel prevented us from exploring these other sights.

Ahwahnee Hotel
Parker takes in the incredible view from just outside the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, conveniently located smack dab in the middle of the park’s popular valley.
Yosemite View hotel in El Portal
Parker stands outside his El Portal hotel with its Sierra Nevada mountains backdrop, just 10 miles from the National Park gate.

 

After all that exploring, you’re going to need a good spot to rest your weary head. Even though we didn’t get a lodging spot at the historic Ahwahnee hotel, conveniently located in the main village of the park, we were able to stay in the nearby town of El Portal, around 10 miles outside the gate. The El Portal building may have lacked the ambience, elegant restaurant, multiple parlors, iconic views and amazing location near the visitor’s center and Ansel Adams Photo Gallery that are standard at the landmark Ahwahnee hotel, but it still had a great mountain view.

Yosemite National Park watercolor beauty
So many of the scenic spots in this park create an appearance of a watercolor painting instead of the photographic moment that they truly are.

Created in 1890, this place became the third national park of the United States of America. Environmental trailblazer John Muir was one of the biggest advocates of this special piece of wilderness. The national park congressional action was signed by President Benjamin Harrison, but President Abraham Lincoln had paved the way by signing a protective land grant for the valley and the Mariposa sequoia grove in 1864. Thanks to these actions, the current park contains almost 750,000 acres (nearly 1,200 square miles) of protected land.

More than 400 species of vertebrates including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals inhabit the park. There are also a wide variety of wildflowers, trees and plants throughout the park. Black bears and bighorn sheep are among the favorite mammals found under the towering trees. And of course the abundance of waterfalls …

Bridalveil Fall at Yosemite National Park
A foot of April snow high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains had most of the waterfalls in the park (including Bridalveil Fall) flowing strong. Often these waterfalls will slow to a trickle by late summer.

Have you figured out where Parker was parked yet? Just because our current president can’t pronounce the name of this incredible place doesn’t mean it “Mite” be hard to say. You don’t even have to be “smarter than the average bear” to get it right. In fact, it’s pretty simple. Parker immersed himself in the beauty of Yosemite (pronounced Yo-Sem-It-Tee) National Park. And even though he’s been to a bunch of places with similar National distinctions since that trip, this still stands as his all-time favorite so far.

Yosemite National Park entrance sign
Early April snow covers the ground near the Yosemite National Park entrance sign.

Wondering where Meandering Mike and Parker Flatly are going to park themselves next? Well wonder no more! You’ll never miss another post when you sign up for E-mail Notifications here! Thanks for reading and please share your all-time favorite National Park with us in the comments box below.

NOTE: At the time of the writing of this blog, Yosemite National Park was closed to all visitors due to hazardous air quality caused by the west coast wildfires. Despite the significant smoke impact, through traffic is allowed; visitors must remain with their vehicle. The park is closed to recreation. To Link to the current conditions page and to see a current picture of Yosemite taken from the Yosemite Conservancy webcam, visit their website here.

2 Comment

  1. Love the jab at Trump. 😁 I really want to go here. I’m hoping the virus is under control by next summer so when we go out to California for Zach’s wedding, we can head to some other wonderful places like this as well.

    1. Terri, California has 9 National Parks within its borders, so there are plenty of outdoor spaces to social distance, even if there isn’t a Covid vaccine yet. Hopefully the wildfires won’t put the wedding plans on hold.

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