Chilnualna Falls Trail hike

How to Visit Yosemite in the Spring, Part 2

how to visit yosemite in march, april and may

If you haven’t checked out part one of our trip, head here first!

After covering many miles in our first couple days in the park, we decided to switch it up and view the valley from the river. We were eager to find Zephyr Rafting in El Portal along the Merced River as we drove along highway 140, the main entrance into the park. We opted for an early morning whitewater rafting session so we’d have the afternoon to recuperate. After arriving around 8am for our time slot, we were introduced to three of the tour guides as well as the other participants. We were split up into three rafts and would be riding with our tour guide, Jake through class three and four rapids. Rapids are rated on a scale of 1-6, six being non-raftable (it’s a word, swear). So, I was a bit eager/anxious to make my way through rapids being such an amateur paddler. After the necessary safety lesson, we dressed up in wet suits, wool sweaters and rain jackets, all included in our tour package. I ended up using a pair of water shoes left over from a previous trip so I could spare my sneakers, though gym shoes were fine to use. Given it was an overcast 43 degrees out (brrr!), we were only expecting to get chillier as the day wore on due to the water melting straight of the snow covered mountains. We would soon find out it was impossible not to get wet on this adventure.

whitewater Rafting Cranberry Hole at Merced River in Yosemite
Rafting Cranberry Hole

After splitting up into our rafts, we had a brief practice run on the nearby rapid. Emphasis on the brief, we were about to hit Cranberry Run, our first rapid, in less than a minute.

whitewater Rafting at Merced River in Yosemitewith Zephyr Rafting
Getting a little wet at Ned’s Gulch Rapid

The rapids each had their own unique names which made it all the more fun. Although we were soaked, we managed to stay warm as long as we kept paddling. On the most difficult turn at Ned’s Gulch, a boy felt out of the raft behind us, followed by an entire boat behind them turning on its side, dumping everyone out. Luckily, our mini-rescue lesson allowed us to save the swimmers near us.

whitewater Rafting at Merced River in Yosemite with Zephyr Rafting
Rescuing a swimmer at Ned’s Gulch

Although this was the biggest fear I had (uh, no thanks to the ice bath, please), it wasn’t that rare of an occurrence. Given the life jackets and helmets, the swimmers just rode down the currents until a boat was near them. It almost looked like fun. *Almost*.

whitewater Rafting at Merced River in Yosemite with Zephyr Rafting
Trying our luck with class 3 rapids

After about two hours of rafting, we exited the river where a bus took us back to the start. At this point, I began losing feeling in my toes and was ready to dry off and warm up. We thanked Zephyr Rafting for an awesome experience, and headed back to our condo to spend the rest of the day warming up by the fire. A huge pot of tomato soup hit the spot, and we had a kick out of laughing at the pictures from the day’s event.

For our last morning in Yosemite, we didn’t want to miss a beat and were up at 5:30 am. Luckily, we were staying in West Yosemite close to Tunnel View, an easy access point to witness the sunrise over the valley.

sunrise at tunnel view in yosemite national park
Sunrise at Tunnel View

Apparently we weren’t the only ones with this fantastic idea. We unknowingly inserted ourselves into a photography class already staked out, and got to pick up a few pointers!

sunrise at tunnel view in yosemite national park
Photography class at Tunnel View circa 6am

Having been so early in the morning, we took this time to hit up some of the trails that had been mobbed the last few afternoons.

Bridalveil is a gorgeous walk to the bottom of a powerful waterfall that’s viewed afar from Tunnel View. It took only seven minutes to reach the end of the trail to take a few pictures of the mist flowing off the rocks like a veil (thus, the accurate name).

Bottom of Bridalveil Falls in yosemite national park
Bottom of Bridalveil Falls

As we continued our drive around the valley, we captured a few last moments of the sun peaking over El Capitan before we headed on our way.

sunrise at yosemite national park
Sunrise reaching El Capitan

Although we were limited to open areas in the park because of the heavy snow fall, we has zero issues filling our days. In fact, we would have easily run out of time if we had tried to reach every corner of this incredible region. This way, we were able to fully enjoy all Yosemite had to offer, minus the suffocating crowds and long wait times to reach the summits. If you haven’t made the time to visit this national treasure yet, now is the time to experience the world as it was hundreds of years ago.

Do you like hiking in the snow? How do you stay outdoors when the weather gets chilly?


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Welcome to Namastay Traveling! I'm Juliette, a 20-something certified yogi living in Washington, D.C. Follow along as I share my travel adventures while striving to achieve mindfulness along the way. Here you'll find helpful travel itineraries along with ways to practice peace while abroad. The adventurer in me honors the adventurer in you.

18 thoughts on “How to Visit Yosemite in the Spring, Part 2”

  1. I have been dying to go to the National Parks out west. I always get overwhelmed not knowing which one to start with. My bucket list includes hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail. I always imagine National Parks to be these isolated mystical places, so thank you so much for the heads up about the crowds. I want to see Nature, not people. No offense people, but I’m moving some dates around lol.


    1. There’s so many options, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them! There’s definitely some pros and cons to going in the off seasons, but if some wilderness and seclusion is what you’re after, I highly suggest it. Looking forward to hearing about your next trek!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not one of those people that deal very well with the cold, but wow, this place looks amazing! I’ve never been to Yosemite before. Those are some beautiful pictures.


  3. Those are breathtaking photos! I have never been to Yosemite, but my husband has always wanted to go. I am so scared of going rafting though! I feel like I would fall out and never find my way back in! Looking at your landscape photos though – it really seems like it would be so calming!


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