As sad as we were to leave Mammoth Lakes, we were so excited to to move onto Yosemite National Park. Yosemite has been on our list for awhile and we had a whole week set aside to explore it.
From Mammoth Lakes we drove through Stanislaus National Forest towards Yosemite. Stanislaus National Forest felt secluded and gorgeous. It was also some of the most difficult roadway we traveled with its constant switchbacks and steep grading reaching 25%. Halfway through the forest we stopped for a walk along a river and checked out the Columns of the Giants, a geologic formation that like Devils Postpile, was formed by lava and ice. We also past a lot of small campgrounds that we put on our list for the future. Looking back, the drive through Stanislaus National Forest was the highlight of this section of our trip.
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Due to a lack of BLM land around Yosemite and not booking our trip early enough we ended up at more traditional RV park than we are used to. While the park was not really our style, it had a great location just outside the park. Once we pulled up we started to notice the air to be smokey, but not bad enough to make us worried. We had heard that 2 days before there had been some fires but the park was still open. Unfortunately, we could not get any wifi or cell phone signal so we couldn’t check the news to see the status.
The next day we woke up to an increase of smoke in our campground so we headed out to Yosemite National Park to do a drive through and asset the situation. Since we didn’t plan on doing any hiking we brought Rosie along for the ride. Upon arriving at the park entrance we could tell that whatever was going on with the fires hadn’t scared anyone away, because there were big crowds ready to go in. As we drove through the smoke was manageable but our views consisted of burnt trees which was not really what we were hoping. Continuing through our luck changed for a moment because we saw a bear right outside our car! We immediately pulled over to get some pictures. Rosie even saw the bear and went nuts! Luckily for the bear we kept her in the car. Once the bear wandered off we continued further into Yosemite and the further we got the smokier things got. Eventually we had to just turn around because we couldn’t see anything through the gray blanket that had overtaken the park.
Smoke coming in
Sadly, on our second day at Yosemite we had to wear bandanas over our noses and mouths and knew it was time to move on. We packed up our home on wheels and headed to the coast to seek refuge. We decided to leave Yosemite unchecked on our list of National Parks to ensure we go back and see it in all its glory.
Yosemite lakes | Groveland, CA | $60/night
Wildlife spotted: Bears
Luckily we have a dog that will sleep in the car. Well, except when we open snacks, then she is awoken immediately. We love that she sleeps but feel bad that she misses so much on the road and can’t go to all the stops with us. Thats why when Rosie got to go to two national Parks in one day, she had the BEST. DAY. EVER.
Leaving the Gila national forest in New Mexico we crossed the border to Arizona and went to the Petrified Forest National Park. Dogs are allowed on all the trails here and after a visit to the visitor center they decided that Rosie was the perfect candidate for a Bark Ranger. She got a certificate and even a collar tag. This alone made Rosie feel very special and I think she has a special pride in preserving the National Parks now.
Luckily, there had been a storm the day before and the forest was nice and cool for us all to explore the Petrified Forest and soak in all it’s magic. They say that if you take something from the Petrified forest you will have bad luck so we touched all the petrified wood, which felt like stone, but left it as we found it. The Petrified Forest turns into the painted desert and Rosie was even welcome there to sniff and explore the changing colors of the desert. The entire area felt like another world and we met so many people from across the globe there to experience it’s splendor.
Walking around the Petrified forest
Leaving the painted desert the plan was to head to Sedona. It was still pretty early and we gained an hour so we had a wild hair to drive up to the Grand Canyon. Looking back this made our day extremely long but I also think it was all worth it. It’s about the journey and not the destination after all.
Rosie loves the Grand Canyon!
Enjoying the Grand Canyon views
We now know why it’s called the “Grand” Canyon. Richard had been 10 years ago and was amazed at how much everything had changed and how nice the parking and facilities were. Rosie was allowed all around the park and the rim but not on the trails leading down into the canyon, which we were not planning on doing anyways. As expected, the park was packed and again we met people from all over the world. Rosie was the center of attention with many of the crowds and she loved stretching her legs and getting to experience everything with us. We spent more time than we allotted for at the Grand Canyon but the beauty of it all is just too magnificent to rush. Around 6pm we loaded back in the car, tired and hungry, and headed down south to Sedona.
At this point Sedona was really out of our way, but it was somewhere we were both really excited about, so we decided to suck it up and head down for 2 nights. Once we passed Flagstaff (which is absolutely adorable might I add) the landscape started to get really interesting. We followed some pretty intense switch backs going down the mountain that felt more like a rollercoaster and our jaws were dropping at the red rocks starting to appear. After miles winding into the Red Rocks Secret Mountain Wilderness we found the perfect boon-docking spot at Nolan Tank. We were so tired and hungry we just ate and went to bed but we were awoken in the morning by the most amazing views. Each morning when we wake up and take a step outside we cant help but think how truly grateful we are for the world around us.
Nolan Tank, Sedona, Arizona | Price: FREE
Wildlife spotted: hummingbirds, lizards