Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 7/10
Destinations in America often conjure up images of skyscraping buildings, hoards of people and impressive man-made infrastructure. Yosemite National Park is none of these. It is a beautiful, quiet, natural area which will wow any backpacker who happens to stop by.
The most famous features of the park are El Capitan and Half Dome. El Capitan is a sheer rock face that climbers from across the world visit in order to face the ultimate challenge. As you drive past you can see the silhouettes of climbers dangling from the top half of the rock face, surely one of the most exhilarating feelings if you have the talent and cojones to get up there. Probably even more impressive from the slightly lazier visitor’s point of view is Half Dome (pictured), a huge curving rock which can be seen from various spots around the park, all of which will take your breath away. Catch it on a good day and you’ll struggle to see a more impressive view anywhere in the world. And it’s slightly easier to get to the top of if you’re feeling energetic!
If you get to the point where you’ve seen enough amazing, huge rocks (though i can’t imagine anyone will!) then you can also head down to the giant sequoia trees which will allow you to feel like a borrower for an hour or so if you wish. Wandering through the forest you find yourself sneaking through doorways that are actually in the trunk of the trees. If you take some broccoli along in your packed lunch too you can even feel like a borrower and a giant at the same time and really mess with your mind!
One of the main drawbacks of Yosemite as a backpacking destination is, as with most destinations in the US, the lack of accessibility. You’ll need to hire a car or go on a tour which will break the bank slightly more than a backpacker might like, but it’s certainly worth it when you see the breathtaking sights Yosemite has to offer. There is a range of backpacker accommodation around the park, all of which can offset the price of hiring a car between a small group. All the main sights can be done in a day, with another day to do some hiking around the park which i’d recommend. If you’re backpacking around California and spending your time in the big cities like San Francisco and LA then it would be a real shame not to bake a short stop at Yosemite into your plans. Though it will make you feel exceedingly small…