California - Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks

California - Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks
Clouds Rest - Yosemite

In June of 2021, Parker & I traveled to Mariposa, California, and had the adventure wedding of our dreams in Yosemite National Park. We were married in the presence of some of our closest friends and family at Lower Yosemite Falls, where we toasted with champagne and petit-fours before making the breathtakingly beautiful hike up to Glacier Point.

We rounded out a memorable trip with a mini-moon in Sequoia National Park, where we hiked some more, ate delicious food in the town of Three Rivers, and had picnics with butterflies while swimming and lazing around in the Kaweah River!

Summary of Hikes:

Yosemite National Park:

Clouds Rest
Lower Yosemite Falls
Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point

Sequoia National Park:

General Sherman Tree Trail
Moro Rock Trail

Clouds Rest

Difficulty: Hard. Distance: 13.5 miles. Elevation gain: 3,152 ft. Time: 6-8 hours. Trailhead: Sunrise Lakes trailhead.

The day before our wedding, we tackled a nice, long hike in Yosemite National Park with our friends. This is arguably the best viewpoint in the entire park, standing 1,000 ft above Half Dome and showcasing 360-degree panoramic views as far as the eye can see. And unlike Half Dome, a permit is not needed. Be warned- bug spray is essential!

The trail starts near Tenaya Lake, crossing over Tenaya Creek by hopping over a series of flat rocks. The next mile or so is relatively flat and tree-covered before coming up on a series of steep, rocky switchbacks, which is the most challenging section of the hike and continues for another 1.5 miles. At the summit, you will continue at the junction toward Clouds Rest, making the descent down to a gorgeous meadow and lake before starting the more gradual incline towards the Clouds Rest Foot Trail. The best part of the hike is the awe-inspiring views from the top!

Lower Yosemite Falls Trail

Difficulty: Easy. Distance: 1.2 miles. Elevation gain: 55 ft. Time: 20 minutes. Trailhead: Lower Yosemite Falls Parking Lot.

We had our wedding ceremony at Lower Yosemite Falls, fulfilling our wish to get married under a waterfall! We had romantic vows, tearful smiles, and cheers of joy with some of our favorite people. Parker's mom was thoughtful enough to bring mini champagnes & petit fours, and we all toasted to a beautiful day and a lifetime of love & adventure!

This flat, paved trail offers incredible views of both Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls. It can quickly become very busy and crowded, so it's worth it to try to get there early. Fun fact: Yosemite Falls is North America's tallest waterfall & is the 5th tallest in the world!

We spent some time exploring Yosemite Valley before making our way over to the Four Mile Trailhead- cutting across the tranquil Merced River and Swinging Bridge Picnic Area. IMG_7584.jpg

Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point

Difficulty: Hard. Distance: 4.8 miles (one-way). Elevation gain: 3,200 ft. Time: 3-4 hours (one-way). Trailhead: Four Mile Trailhead.

Half of our wedding party hiked with us up the Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point. The trail switchbacks 3,200 ft up from Yosemite Valley with astonishing views of Half Dome, North Dome, El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, the Royal Arches, Tenaya Canyon, and Yosemite Falls. It's up on our list of all-time favorite hikes because of its consistently incredible views the entire way up!

After a joyful ceremony and hike, we had an intimate reception at 1850 Restaurant and Brewery in Mariposa. We had delicious local beer, ahi nachos, and mouthwatering entrees. Would definitely love to eat here again!

Mariposa, CA

Mariposa is a Gold Rush-era town founded in 1849 with many cute, historic-themed restaurants, shops, museums, and landmarks. Many of the structures in historic downtown Mariposa were built in the 1850s-1900 and make for a charmingly preserved little town.

On our last morning in town, we made sure to grab coffee and a pastry from Jantz Cafe & Bakery. Then, we had just enough time for a quick swim in the Merced River on the way out!

Sequoia National Park Mini-Moon.

After our beautiful wedding in Yosemite National Park, we drove to Sequoia National Park to enjoy our mini-moon. We relaxed in the icy cold river coming down the mountain on 100-degree+ days, saw General Sherman (the largest tree in the world), hiked the Moro Rock Trail, and enjoyed the delicious and creative foods around the eccentric town of Three Rivers.

WhatsApp Image 2023-10-28 at 14.02.58_1e84637f.jpg

General Sherman Tree Hike

Difficulty: Easy. Distance: 1.2 miles. Elevation gain: 200 ft. Time: 30 minutes. Trailhead: Sherman Tree Trailhead.

The General Sherman Tree is the world's largest tree, measured by volume. It stands 275 ft tall and is over 36 ft in diameter at the base. It was an easy, paved hike surrounded by towering sequoias.

Moro Rock Trail

Difficulty: Moderate. Distance: 0.5 miles. Elevation gain: 183 ft. Time: 20 minutes. Trailhead: Moro Rock Parking Lot.

This is a fun hike with a 350-step concrete and stone staircase to climb the granite dome. The peak offers 360-degree panoramic views of the peaks of the Great Western Divide, the San Joaquin Valley, and Sequoia National Park.

For most of our afternoons, we swam and relaxed in the Kaweah River. Nothing beats 100+ degree days and nice cold river water! We were even blessed to have a field of butterflies dancing around us!


Food Trucks, Breweries, and Other Delicious Places to Eat

Our favorite part about the colorful town of Three Rivers was the variety of delicious food options. We ordered from Sierra Subs most days while packing our picnics to bring into the park. Their Muffuletta sandwich was Parker's favortie! Sequoia Coffee Company is right next door and quickly became one of our regular breakfast haunts.

Quesadilla Gorilla food truck was tasty as well. Cute outdoor seating area with picnic tables, yard games like cornhole and giant Jenga, and a super flavorful menu of sweet and savory quesadillas. 10/10.

Three Rivers Brewing Company is located directly in town, with refreshing brews on tap and a fun outdoor patio covered in trees and greenery for some shade. Pupusas La Sabrosa is the Salvadoran food truck parked out back, with mouthwatering pupusas begging to be washed down with another beer.

For dessert, we made our way over to Reimer's Candies and Gifts. They have an assortment of candies and fudge and the most delicious honey lavender ice cream. I still dream of the ice cream to this day, and you can bet we were back for seconds (and thirds)!

Wish List!:

Although we did not get lucky enough to win the Half Dome hike lottery this time around, we plan on coming back to experience this bucket list hike on one of our future anniversaries!


Whitewater Rafting on the Merced River

Due to the drought, the water levels were too low around the dates of our wedding, and we couldn't go rafting with our wedding party. We're excited to whitewater raft during some of our future mountain trips around the world!