Welcome to our first installment of the Great American Roadtrip series! In this series, we’ll cover potential road trips that will take you across our beautiful country and let you explore and hop from one national park to another. Make sure to check back in throughout this year for more ideas to help plan your next road trip.
Yosemite to Asilomar
In this first installment, we’ll be taking you from the majestic trees and mountains of Yosemite all the way to the coast of California, where you can enjoy the dunes and ocean waves at Asilomar.
While the topography will greatly change between your two destinations, it’s a relatively short drive. The drive from Yosemite to Asilomar will take you approximately 4-hours.
If you expect to make a couple of stops to sightsee along the way or for small bladders, add at least 30 minutes per stop to your drive time. But, if you’re in a hurry and traffic is light, you should make it to your destination in just under four hours.
For your route, you’ll follow CA-140W to CA-152W, which will take you all the way to your destination.
Before you go, be sure to plan out where you’re going to stay at both destinations and what you’ll do while you’re there.
One of the most famous national parks in the U.S. is Yosemite. Located in California, Yosemite National Park welcomes millions of visitors each year, all of whom are drawn in by the dramatic waterfalls, giant sequoias, abundant wildlife, and awe-inspiring cliffs. The park is home to Half Dome and El Capitan, as well as plenty of more accessible hiking options for those looking for a more laid back adventure.
In the park, you can hike, backpack into the backcountry, stargaze, take driving tours, and go fishing. The options and sites to see are practically endless.
Here are a couple of must-do activities if you’re planning your road trip for the summer.
Giant Sequoias and Waterfalls
hat Yosemite is best known for is the groves of giant sequoias and dramatic waterfalls. During your visit to the park, there are three different groves of sequoias that you can visit. These trees are some of the oldest and largest living organisms in the world, so be sure to not miss a chance to wander among their trunks.
Throughout the park, you’ll find thousands of small waterfalls. These falls take the snowmelt from the high elevations down the mountains. The best time to experience these falls is when the current is strongest, which is in the spring. At the front of the park, you’ll find Bridalveil Falls, which is one of the most famous of the park’s falls.
Another must-do during your time in Yosemite is an evening program with the park’s rangers. The rangers will take you out on a tour as the sun dips below the horizon to teach you about the night sky and stars. During your tour, you’ll gaze up at the clear night sky to see the moon, Milky Way Galaxy, meteors, constellations, and comets. As you gaze up in wonder, your guide will tell you stories and history of the night sky above you.
Where to Stay: The Ahwahnee
During your visit to Yosemite National Park, you’ll want a place to lay your head at night. The Ahwahnee provides you with a cozy, relaxing place to stay the night. It’s also known as the crown jewel of the national park lodges for its architecture and historic value.
The Ahwahnee has plenty of comfortable guest rooms, a gift shop with goods handmade by local artisans, a sweet shop, a heated outdoor swimming pool, and a dining room that’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Make sure to check out their brunch options if you are staying during a Sunday!
Once you’ve finished your stay at Yosemite, it’s time to embark on the drive to Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds. Asilomar is all about nature, calm, and serenity. The 107 acres of the beachfront property are perfect for beach reading, walking among the dunes, or taking a wildlife tour to learn about the local ecology.
Dunes and Coast Guided Trail Hike
Starting at 10 am on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, you can take a guided tour through the Asilomar Dunes Natural Preserve. This one-hour tour takes you along the Dunes Boardwalk trail, which is approximately ½ mile long. This trail is accessible for both wheelchairs and walkers.
On the tour, you’ll learn about the conservation efforts for these 25 acres of dune habitat and the animals who reside there. For your tour, you’ll want to wear comfortable walking shoes and dress in layers as the weather can change quickly.
Birdwatch Among the Dunes
Asilomar is home to unique coastal ecology, which brings birdwatchers from around the world to see the vast variety of birds who call this coast home and the visitors who come to stay for a while.
As one of the top 5 birding destinations in the world, you won’t want to miss a chance to witness some of the unique breeds that live here. You can take a birdwatching tour or just guide yourself among the dunes and keep your eyes open for all that nature has to offer.
Where to Stay: Asilomar
During your time at Asilomar State Beach, you can book a cozy room at the Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds. During your stay, you can enjoy walks along the beach, take in the historical architecture, and dine in Phoebe’s Cafe.
If you’re in need of some inspiration for a summer trip, be sure to check back for more installments in our Great American Road Trips series. Until then, start planning your road trip from Yosemite to Asilomar for mountains and beaches all in one fun-filled trip.