Just after 6:15am we were picked up from our hostel by our tour bus. We were on our way to Yosemite National Park from San Francisco for a one-day trip. We chose to visit Yosemite with Extranomical Tours after a recommendation from a friend who found that they were well organised, knew a lot about the history of the Park and were one of the cheaper tour companies (which was important for us on our tight budgets). We went with the Total Yosemite Experience and Giant Sequoias 1 Day Tour.
We settled into our bus seats with our Starbucks in hand, and prepared ourselves for the 4 hour bus journey ahead. Surprisingly, the bus ride went by a lot quicker than expected. Apart from our quick restroom and food break, we napped most of the way, which was much needed after a huge night out the previous night.
Our first stop on the tour was at Tuolumne Grove, an optional hike for those who wanted to wander through the forest trails surrounded by giant sequoias. We were warned by the bus driver that the hike can be harder than expected because of the height above sea level, and we were not to overestimate our fitness levels. We were given 70 minutes to hike the trail, the suggested hiking times were to take us about 20 minutes to make it down to the bottom of the trail and 40 minutes to reach our way back to the top. So without a second to spare, we set off down the 2 mile track determined to make it the whole way.
Tuolumne Grove was a great little trail and we definitely built up a sweat. The surrounding sequoia trees were incredible, although it was rather sad to see that part of the trail had been destroyed by a bushfire the summer beforehand. We got the chance to see Big Red – the largest living sequoia tree in the world, as well as the walk-through sequoia. We completed the trail in approximately 45 minutes; 25 minutes on the way down and 20 minutes back to the beginning (I don’t quite know how we managed to do that).
The next stop on the tour was at the spectacular Inspiration Point. This was an amazing photo opportunity to capture many of the highlights of Yosemite National Park in the one photo – El Capitan, Half Dome and some of the falls. This place really highlighted the depth and density of the Yosemite Valley, and the beauty of the nature within.
It’s back on the bus again and time to wind through the perfect scenery, deep down into the Yosemite Valley. After a quick lunch break in the Yosemite Food Court, we went and hired a bicycle and set off to explore the valley ourselves. I definitely recommend hiring a bike to explore the park, at $11.50 per hour or $36 for the day, it’s too good to pass up! We cycled around the valley and were not disappointed, with every stop providing us with unbelievable views of luscious greenery, rivers, waterfalls and wildlife. Unfortunately after we finished up our perfect bike ride around the valley, it was time to head back on the bus for our four hour journey back to San Francisco.
The tour was a fantastic way to explore the beauty of Yosemite National Park in a short amount of time, and the tour guide was very knowledgable. If you’re looking for a day trip from San Francisco, I definitely recommend visiting Yosemite – it did not disappoint!!
Extranomical Tours operate daily at a cost of $145USD ($154USD if not purchased online) and can be found here.