Above Yosemite Valley at 8,600 feet lies Tuolumne Meadows, a pristine sub-alpine landscape of mountain cirques and domes, lodgepole pines, and grassy expanses flanking the Tuolumne River. It’s the most photographed area in the park outside of Yosemite Valley for good reason. From here, a number of trails—including Pacific Crest and John Muir—lead into the backcountry to landmarks like Clouds Rest, Lembert Dome, and Cathedral Lakes. There are more than 300 tent and RV sites in the meadow, but this jewel of the Sierra is also easily done as a day trip by car from the valley. Before starting your exploration, stop in at the historic visitor center to learn more about the flora, fauna, and geology of the area, then grab some ice cream at the Tuolumne Meadows Grill.

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CATCH (Do): I spent two beautiful and memorable days in the lovely Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park this past July. Although the time spent was short, I caught that quintessential glimpse of what John Muir encountered while in Yosemite. I’m pictured here (as taken by my companion Evan), hiking to the peaceful Elizabeth Lake. We traveled from Puerto Rico and were not expecting the chilly weather of the high sierra here in Yosemite. Thus, we spent our nights huddled for warmth in the 37 F but rejoicing in the day time for that awaited 80 F . I’m pictured with other jackets, scarf and hat dangling from my pack - expecting that rush of cooler weather as the night takes fall. It’s difficult to describe the beauty of Yosemite; we’ve had trouble expressing it in words to friends and family. I believe the postcard-style pictures speak volumes. I’ll leave the wordsmith-ing to Muir.

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