America’s national park system is one of the greatest points of pride for the country, and has even served as inspiration for other nations eager to preserve their own national treasures. One of the most iconic of those parks is California’s Yosemite National Park. Images of its rocky cliffs, thundering waterfalls and gargantuan sequoia trees entice nature lovers of all ages, but the history of the park is just as fascinating as its geological and natural wonders. The average visit to the park might leave that background out of reach, but a Yosemite tour, crafted in partnership with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, is guaranteed to bring it all to light.
Burns’ documentary feature “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” captivated viewers across the country and re-ignited interest in exploring parks like Yosemite. Tour operator Tauck teamed up with Burns to create a tour that gives participants unprecedented insight as well as opportunities to simply revel in the majestic beauty of Yosemite. While many of the experiences on this Yosemite tour are exclusive to participating travelers, it also offers cost savings of as much as 40 percent, compared to doing the same trip on your own.
Travelers can expect a lot out of their visit to Yosemite – and it’s certain that they won’t be disappointed. These are the top five sights and experiences to look forward to while visiting the park:
1. The view from Glacier Point. While there’s no shortage of spectacular views within Yosemite, this might be the most stirring of them all. From the point, you can look out over the Yosemite Valley for a vista that takes in Half Dome and countless other glacier-formed peaks. John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt stood here in 1903 during a tour of the area that ended up convincing Roosevelt to authorize its federal protection as a national park.
2. Buffalo Soldier history. Creating a national park that balances natural preservation and the welcoming of visitors is no small task – and, in Yosemite, it would have been impossible without the help of the “Buffalo Soldiers.” They were the ones who blazed trails, built roads and mapped the vast wilderness of Yosemite – thus making it possible for the park to be properly managed. Tauck’s Yosemite tour includes a talk by Park Ranger Shelton Johnson on the Buffalo Soldiers; he was featured in Burns’ documentary.
3. A stay at The Ahwahnee. The lodges of the national parks hold a special allure, but none more so than The Ahwahnee. This luxurious, grand resort is set against a sheer granite cliff, which makes for one of the most dramatic settings you’re ever likely to see. A spirit of rustic luxury emanates throughout the lodge, which was built in 1915, from its soaring dining room to the cozy grand lounge.
4. The falls of Yosemite. Waterfalls work a particular magic on visitors to Yosemite, and there is no shortage of these natural wonders to be admired. Yosemite Falls, with its upper and lower falls, as well as cascades in between, is the highest waterfall in North America with a combined 2,425-foot drop. At Vernal Falls, visitors can get a whole different perspective, by walking across a footbridge.
5. Hike, bike and more. Getting out and into the environment of Yosemite is a must for every visitor. Choose your favorite method – on foot, two wheels or four wheels – and set out for an adventure. Hikers and bikers can follow designated paths into the wilderness, but open-top vehicles also have access to remote corners of the park.
A Yosemite tour is guaranteed to inspire enthusiasm for nature, history and America itself. For more information, visit Tauck.com.