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Yosemite and Tahoe’s infinite variety are enough to keep anyone busy for a lifetime, so it’s no task to spend a vacation soaking up the area’s wild beauty. Given all the activities you can pursue here, it’s hard to pick just five of the best things to see and do in Tahoe and Yosemite. Here are the things you definitely shouldn’t miss seeing, though:
1. Explore Yosemite National Park. In the spring and summer, Yosemite is home to some of North America’s highest and most breathtaking waterfalls, including famed Yosemite Falls. Take a park shuttle and walking tour around the falls, and be sure to keep an eye out for bears.
2. Lake Tahoe. If it’s summer, get out on Lake Tahoe. You can do something as quiet and peaceful as a dinner cruise, or rent a Sea-Doo and go wild, but either way, enjoying the water is paramount.
3. Take a hike, literally. Whether you’re near Lake Tahoe or in the middle of Yosemite, this area is home to some of the nation’s loveliest and best maintained hiking trails, and you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t see at least one or two of them.
4. Yosemite Valley Moonlight Tour. For an exciting nighttime adventure, don’t miss the Yosemite Valley Moonlight Tour, a late-night open tram ride through the park that allows you to see some of the park’s most iconic landmarks, including El Capitan, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls.
5. Tour the Ansel Adams Gallery. Walk around the space, which displays the acclaimed artist’s original photographs. It’s fitting that Adams’s memorial gallery is in the park, since his iconic nature photography put Yosemite on the map. It’s also amazing to see the photos in their “home,” and an excellent way to grab a moment of reflection during what could otherwise be a very busy vacation.
The absolute highlight of our area is definitely Yosemite National Park, which is considered one of the most beautiful National Parks in the United States. It offers so many magnificent spots, so guests should allocate most of their time for the Park (which includes numerous attractions such as El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite Fall, Nevada and Vernal Fall, Half Dome, Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove with Giant Sequoias, as well as the High Sierra with Tioga Pass, Tuolumne Meadows and Tenaya Lake). After having seen all the “major” attractions, you should try and explore Yosemite “per pedes” (hiking) or by biking (bike rentals are available in Yosemite Valley and there are many wonderful bike paths on the Valley Floor).
If you don't mind a long drive, we suggest that you drive up Tioga Pass and continue to Mono Lake, which is located on the other side of the Sierra Nevada. It is simply breathtaking to drive through the high mountains (on an altitude of approximately 9,000 feet) and then experience Mono Lake down in the valley — a salt lake that contains two and a half times more salt than the world's oceans. Don't miss the Tufas, some magnificent monuments on the south bank of the lake; there is a beautiful interpretive walk that you can take through this spectacular landscape — you will almost feel like you’re on some other planet).
If you would like to explore California's rich history (literally), you should take a drive on Route 49, an old Gold Rush route. It starts in the town of Mariposa (approximately 40 minutes west of Oakhurst) and brings you north to Jamestown and Sonora (with Columbia State Park). This drive is especially beautiful during the spring when all the wildflowers are blooming. It will take much longer to get to Sonora since you will want to stop at every curve to take pictures of the wonderful flowers and the mountains.
In case you have seen most of Yosemite National Park already and would like to enjoy some time without hiking, biking or driving (after all, you should also allot some hours of your vacation to laissez-faire activities), head to Bass Lake (approximately 20 minutes drive from Oakhurst) and try out their water sports activities
During the winter months we recommend the following: Borrow the snowshoes that are available at Château du Sureau, drive up to the South Entrance of the Park and hike up to Mariposa Grove (the road to the Grove usually closes down as soon as the first snow arrives and doesn't open until the last snow has melted). This will be invigorating and a little bit of a workout, but it really is worth it — you will be almost by yourself in the Grove with all these magnificent trees and the snow hanging from them. It's a feeling that is hard to describe…you will just have to experience it for yourself! Upon returning to the Château du Sureau, we will be happy to serve you a hot glass of Krambambuli (a classic Austrian winter drink that will definitely help you soothe those tired muscles).