This weekend, Julia and I took Owen on his very first road trip, to Yosemite National Park. Being first time parents with an infant, we’ve been really careful since his birth, but decided it was time to get out and show him some of the world. The drive up to Yosemite was rather uneventful. He’s been a really easy baby thus far, and his relaxed demeanor in the car for our drive up has us excited for more adventures to come. We made a few stops along the drive up, but the first one of note was Tunnel View from HWY 41. Tunnel View offers up one of the most spectacular views of Yosemite Valley. I know Owen can’t see it now, but it will be cool to take this same shot with him year after year as he grows up.
As readers of this blog know, Julia and I usually opt for a campsite far away from the confines of summer crowds and tourism. With a baby, we had to forgo that preference on this trip, and stayed at the Yosemite Valley Lodge. It was a pretty nice hotel, but an absolute nightmare on arrival. Yosemite is experiencing another record year for tourism, and the park’s infrastructure is not built to handle it. It took us nearly 2 hours to drive from Tunnel View to Yosemite Lodge due to the large number of visitors. I can’t wait until Owen is old enough to sleep in a tent. I don’t think I’ll ever visit Yosemite Valley on a summer weekend again.
After checking in and unpacking, we prepped Owen for his first mini-hike around Yosemite to see Yosemite Falls. It was a short hike, but an exciting one. Once Owen is old enough to support his own head, we’ll be able to take him along just about anywhere.
After hiking to Yosemite Falls, we made our way back towards the Yosemite Lodge for dinner and some rest. I haven’t been able to get away for long hikes since having Owen, so I’ve picked back up my old love of trail running. Trail running allows me to see the same great trails and outdoor views as I see on hikes, but in about a third of the time. For day two in Yosemite National Park, I planned to start at 5:00 AM for a run to the summit of Half Dome.
You can see the GPS tracks and stats for this run on Strava using this link.
For my ascent of Half Dome, I started with the Mist Trail that passes by Vernal Fall. The first stretch of trail here is all on asphalt before crossing a bridge, and climbing a long flight of stone steps. It was hard to keep a running gait here, not just because of the steep trail, but because of the beautiful pre-dawn views I got to take in with no one else around.
After passing Vernal Fall, the trail continues to climb steeply up towards Nevada Fall. My legs were feeling pretty tired at this point, and the flat stretch of Little Yosemite Valley was a welcome respite. From Little Yosemite Valley, I continued to climb until I began to take in my first views of the summit of Half Dome.
The final mile to the summit of Half Dome is a tiring and harrowing experience. The switchbacks pushing up towards the subdome always seem to blow my quads out. My legs were especially tired this time given that I was running. My hiking legs have a lot of catching up to do! After reaching the top of the subdome, I was staring up at the infamous cables of Half Dome.
The cables can be a point of congestion on this hike in the latter parts of the day, but I was lucky to be heading up towards the summit fairly early in the morning. I was able to haul myself up the cables without any interruptions, and before I knew it, I was looking down on Yosemite Valley.
As much as I was enjoying the summit of Half Dome and the views of Yosemite Valley, I knew I need to get back to Julia and Owen. The time will soon come when I can enjoy longer days out on the trail, but in these early months of Owen’s infancy, both parents are needed in action without much time for breaks. I climbed down the cables, and decided to take the John Muir Trail back, and passed on what I knew would be a crowded Mist Trail. Julia and Owen were enjoying their time at the Yosemite Lodge when I returned, and after a shower, I helped pack up our gear for a long car ride home. Owen’s first visit to a National Park was a short and sweet one, but showed to us how much he is already capable of. We’re looking forward to many more adventures with him in the near future.
33 thoughts on “A Road Trip To Yosemite And A Run To The Summit Of Half Dome”
Sounds like a great first trip for Owen! Yosimite is one of the few national parks I’ve never been to. It looks incredible.
It’s an incredible National Park, I just wish it didn’t feel like Disneyland. If you do go, make sure to avoid the visitor center area of the park at all costs in the summer months 🙂 Once you get out on the trails, you’ll have it all to yourself.
Ah, yes. Owen will definitely change your lives. Enjoy, as it will only get better as he grows and become more of an active participant on the adventures. I’m going through it all again now with three grandsons… teaching them the ways of the trail. I don’t think I’ll ever drive into the Yosemite Valley again… possibly in the shoulder months when most vacations are over or not yet starting, and when weather is the big uncertainty. Always new challenges!
Thanks, Mike! We’re really looking forward to all of the adventures in store for his future. I’m sure that’s pretty incredible for you with three grandkids! We’re going to stay in Tuolumne next time and avoid the Disneyland feel of Yosemite Valley. I agree though, the shoulder season might be a nice time to visit. We usually go to the Grand Canyon in the colder months, and the crowds are very manageable.
Didn’t know you had a little one. Big congrats! Lots of new, different adventures ahead!
Thanks, Anna! I’m excited for all of the new adventures in store. I already have a new category of gear reviews in the queue for hiking gear for toddlers 🙂
Haha toddler hiking shoe reviews! Looking forward to seeing your little one grow in the outdoors! I’m off to Croatia with my 4 year old next month, can’t wait to show her the world!
I’ll have toddler sunglasses, shoes, packs, and clothes! haha. Having a little one is going to be a lot of fun! Have fun in Croatia with your little girl!
Looks like you crushed it, man! Congrats on finding a way to make family time and personal time work. Sounds like an epic weekend and first trip for Owen!
Thanks, Robb! It was really tough to find that balance towards the end of Julia’s pregnancy and in the first weeks of being a parent. We’re just now starting to find that balance. I’m just glad I’m able to get back out on the trails!
Way to go Drew and Julia! Just goes to show how much you guys love hiking and the Outdoor Nation. Did you get a permit for Half Dome in advance? By the way, your Grand Canyon pics were fabulous!
Thanks, James! I had the permit for Half Dome from the lottery. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to use it, but figured it would be better to run up than let it go to waste.
Awesome! Congrats on the little one! I just came back from there(something I’ve been planning for years) after a 6 day trip in the Anaconda-Pintlers, and I had the same reaction, “This is a hiker’s Disneyland.” LOL Even overheard some girls complaining, they didn’t have cool Half Dome T-Shirts…they were wearing a North Face T. SMH.
Great site and reviews, keep it up!
Thanks a lot, Nilo!
Congrats on the little one and I’m so happy that you’re taking him out young. I’ve got so many friends with kids that won’t take them because it’s “too much work” but then don’t understand why the kid doesn’t like being outside…I have a feeling that won’t be the case here 🙂
Thanks! We hear and see that a lot. So many parents keep their kids locked inside all day and then wonder why they don’t like exercise or outdoor activities. Owen is going to be outside as much as we can manage 🙂
It appears I’ve missed an important event. Congratulations! Owen won the lottery with active and adventures parents like you. We schlepped our son everywhere from the time he was a tiny too. It’s a change but so worth it. Enjoy!
Thanks, Caroline! I don’t think you missed it, as this is my first post/announcement 🙂 There will be many more posts to come though as Owen continues to grow. It’s great to hear from others who travelled with their little ones from an early age.
Congratulations on the new addition to the family. Owen will change things for sure but seeing the sights through the eyes of a young one and watching them appreciate what you see, is a rewarding experience. Mine are 7 and 9 and for the first time I heard one of them say “look at that view”. Proud moment!
Thank you! He has already changed our lives so much. It will be so much fun to see things through his eyes as he grows older. I’m sure that was a special moment when one of your took note of the beautiful view 🙂
I Love this post! I could not stay away from Yosemite with my infants either and I think something is planted in their hearts and grows as they get these experiences outdoors and it adds to their life in life. I am proud that my now 23 year old daughter hiked Jmt last year. I started Jmt for 4th time 8/6 and will finish Labor Day at Whitney. VEry nice zero day in Mammoth- best western Sierra lodge. COngrats on being parents! MAmmothis amazing child dog friendly place with lots of amazing day hikes. Lake Mary was our family favorite. Best to you.
Thank you! That’s awesome to hear that your 23 year old hike the JMT last year. Julia and I hiked it last year as well. I hope you’re enjoying your time on the JMT right now. We’ll have to plan a trip up to Mammoth!
You are a new daddy!!! Congrats to you and Julia!! Sounds like a successful weekend getaway with baby Owen..except the crowd part.😜 But that’s expected.. Looking forward to more mini adventures with baby Owen!
Thank you!It was a great first trip with Owen. We’re looking forward to planning a few camping trips for the fall!
Love the photos and the write up! It’s great that you have Owen going with you. Enjoy it now because the time goes really fast! Great blog!
Thank you! He’s already growing so fast!
Awesome TR and congrats on fatherhood, the best adventure you will ever have! I didn’t start doing distance hikes with our son until he was about 9 months but probably could have started a little earlier. Now we’re doing it all again with #2 (glad we kept our Osprey Kid Carrier). When they “coo” behind your ear for a few miles & then sleep for a few more you’ll be swooning.
Thanks, David! Congrats on having #2! I’m going to be picking up an Osprey Kid Carrier soon!
How old is owen? My newborn barely tuned 1 month and am wanting to go to Yosemite but contemplating if she’s ready (elevation change, cooler weather, etc).
He’s 2 months old. We did Yosemite and few weeks ago, and Owen had a great time.
I loved this post! We are from Barcelona and are planning to go to Yosemite this summer 2017 (august). Our baby will be 6 months by then and I wonder if temperatures in august are too hot for a baby. We really want to go hiking during some days, and also trying to avoid the crowded areas.
Could you give us some advice?
Thanks in advance.
Judit, Mikel and Roc
Hello Judit!! Great to hear that you’ll be traveling to Yosemite this summer. The temperatures here in California are similar to that of Catalonia. I visited Barcelona and Montserrat in July a few years ago and found the weather to be pretty comparable. I don’t think it will be too hot. The most crowded part of Yosemite is Yosemite Valley, because these are the most iconic sites. It is here you’ll see Half Dome, El Capitan, Tunnel View, and Yosemite Falls. The key to seeing this area without crowds is waking up and starting right at sunrise. If you want to really get away from the crowds, Tuolumne is a great place to visit as well. There is some really nice hiking. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Thanks a lot! Your answer is really usefull 🙂
Since I guess you’ve travelled around National Parks closed to California, which ones (besides Yosemite) would you recomend to go with our baby?