As far as family vacations go, the one my girls and I took with grandpa to Yosemite National Park this summer had all the makings of an epic journey. We saw wildlife and new parts of the park. We did art—both in organized and unorganized fashion. We even discovered the most family-friendly hotel on Earth: The Evergreen Lodge.
Here, then, in no particular order, are some photographic recollections of the wonderful time we had. I consider myself lucky to continue to get to travel with these awesome kids and so many great family members.
One of our favorite things about Evergreen was the preponderance of playgrounds and family-oriented parks. We rented a two-bedroom cabin on the north side of the resort, and mere steps from our front door sat a giant climbing wall, a life-sized chess board, and a variety of other games. My father and my middle daughter, whom we’ll call R, were enthralled by the chess.
When we arrived at Evergreen, we had a general sense of how we wanted to spend our time in the park, but we hadn’t really worked out driving distances and logistics. That explains why my dad and I broke into the whiskey and stayed up late the first night plotting our weekend. The experience reminded me of road trips of my childhood (minus the whiskey, of course), when Dad and Mom let me control the Triptik (remember those?!) in the backseat while we drove.
The highpoint of our visit was a class the four of us took at the Yosemite Art Center. The subject: watercolor painting. All four of us got into the lesson, creating about a dozen pieces between us. When the rest of the group went out to paint Yosemite Falls plein air, we stayed back inside the center and painted scenes from the park that had been etched into our memories.
During the evenings at Evergreen, we hit the game room before and after dinner. During this time, L (my oldest) sharpened her skills at two games: shufflepuck and Connect Four. Suffice it to say the child gets her competitive spirit from me. And she’s yet to lose a game.
There were caterpillars everywhere when we visited, and the girls were obsessed. Every day, we took “caterpillar walks” to find the furry creatures and play with them.
Our trip to the Hetch Hetchy section of the park was everything we hoped it would be: great views, an epic hike, and lots of shrieking in the tunnel you must hike to get to the waterfalls. The only downside: We forgot our headlamps, which meant sticking close together as we wandered into the darkness to guarantee we wouldn’t get our boots soaked.
Once a month the Evergreen Lodge throws a big party with live music. We happened to be staying there that weekend. For the girls, this meant taking full advantage of the dance floor, running around like maniacs, and playing by the light of the disco ball. It was all fun and games until R ran into a bar table and nearly concussed herself.
All told, our annual trip to Yosemite—and our first-ever multigenerational trip—was a wonderful success. We’re already planning our return. You can bet Evergreen Lodge will play a role.
What sort of experiences do you seek when you visit national parks?