An Insider's Guide To Yosemite by Alexis Coram (Pt. 1)


J: I was looking for an artist that was passionate about conveying to the AOV audience the importance and breadth of Yosemite National Park, which is more like a National Treasure in my mind. In this age of technology, many people suffer from sensory deprivation consequently leading to stress and anxiety problems. An immediate cure to society’s stress and anxiety is regular and healthy immersion into nature.

A personal and AOV mission is to inspire our community to explore the vast wonders of nature. I asked Alexis to write a piece on Yosemite that came from a place of authenticity, tasked her to write something she would ‘own’. In order to accurately depict the worlds wonders we’re (AOV) partnering with the community to bring you these stories. If you are interested in being featured for your respective area, make sure to download the AOV app,

Coyote in Yosemite  Coyote in Yosemite - Photo by @AlexisCoram 

 “No temple made with human hands can compete with Yosemite” ~John Muir


J: How would you describe Yosemite to the AOV community?

A: Yosemite is hard to describe with words; you have to see it to really feel its magic. Stepping through the gates is like entering a vast wonderland that uncovers a new treat around every bend.  The thundering gush of waterfalls, the perfect reflections mirrored in the Merced River, towering cliffs above & mountains all around, perfectly dark night skies, and if you’re very lucky, a sneak peak into the beating hearts of the forest. Yosemite is a dreamland for the nature and adventure fanatic; to everyone else, it is simply beautiful.


J: What would you suggest for first time visitors to Yosemite?

A: There is no right or wrong way to enjoy Yosemite.  There are so many paths you can take, all leading to an experience that is unique. As somebody who desires solitude, I visit Yosemite committed to losing myself entirely in the blissful landscape.  I absorb every whisper of the wind, every scent of pine, every crunch from the leaves beneath my feet, every blast of winter air chilling my skin.

Here are some of my favourite spots to hit when I’m in need of nature’s escape.

The list isn’t exhaustive at all and focuses mostly on the valley, which is where I choose to spend most of my time in the Park. The best part is that all of this can be done in a day, so if you don’t want to spend the night, you can still get a lot out of your time in the Park.

Yosemite National Park  Yosemite, California - Photo By Alexis Coram 


Tunnel View

No surprises here. Tunnel View is the signature Yosemite vista, and they couldn’t have made it any easier to get here.  Just swing right onto Wawona Drive from Southside Drive, head up a couple of miles and ta-da, breath will surely be taken. :)  I like to get here first thing in the morning, preferably before Dawn. Sometimes I get the place to myself; other times I share it with a handful of fellow early-rising photographers eager to see the day break in spectacular fashion.

 Tunnel View Yosemite National Park Tunnel View in Yosemite - Photo by Alexis Coram 


Cathedral Beach

This small picnic area at the side of the Merced is easy to miss as you’re traveling down Southside Drive. Look for a left turn, park amongst the trees, walk to the shore and (weather permitting) you’ll find some wonderful reflections in both directions, including El Capitan. It’s especially wonderful during peak autumn colours. 


Cathedral Beach Merced River  Cathedral Beach, Yosemite - Photo by Alexis Coram


J: What is your favorite spot? 

A: Shhhh, it’s a secret spot.
Well, it’s not really a secret, but some people like to think it is. As this is my absolute favorite view in all of Yosemite, I just couldn’t leave it out. This unnamed spot is adjacent to the visitor center parking lot. Situated on a dramatic curve of the Merced, it looks more like a lake than a river and is the perfect spot to catch a breathtaking view of Half Dome. With good conditions, the reflection is tough to beat. It’s particularly dreamy with the right pop of light or with a little snow on the ground.


Yosemite Secret Spot Alexis Secret Spot in Yosemite 


Yosemite Falls.
Yosemite Falls is a no-brainer favourite. There is nothing quite as refreshing as getting dusted with cool waterfall mist, and Yosemite Falls will give you plenty of that if you visit in Spring or after a heavy rainfall. A short walk will get you to the bridge that boasts a wonderful view of the falls. A little careful (and I mean careful) climbing/scrambling across some slippery rocks will get you closer to the base of lower falls and away from crowds that gather on the bridge. Look closely for the rainbow, cover your camera, and wear a rain jacket


Lower Yosemite Falls Yosemite Falls - By Alexis Coram

If you get here early enough in the morning, even in the peak Summer months, you can get the Falls pretty much entirely to yourself…which always blows my mind.


J: Is there a certain place you would recommend for fall or winter visits?

A: El Capitan Bridge & Meadow

If you want gorgeous autumn and winter views, El Capitan Meadow should be your jam. Head down to the river bank for a sublime view and reflection of El Capitan. Wander out into the middle of the meadow and spin around to appreciate 360 degrees of perfection. Experience this in winter and it’s like being in a real-life snow globe. On a fall day, the colors will knock your socks off.  While you’re there, don’t forget to look up - Seeing people climbing El Capitan is always a cool sight. 


El Capitan Bridge Merced River  El Capitan Bridge & Meadow by Alexis Coram


Gates of the Valley
This is always my last major stop as I head out of the Park. It makes a great sunset spot but it’s lovely at any time of day and throughout the year. Bridalveil Falls is across the water from here and reflections can be cracking under the right conditions. Foggy days here are generally my favourite, as they make for some stunning moody shots down the valley.


Gates Of The Valley Yosemite

 Gates of the Valley by Alexis Coram


Bonus Tip: Don’t forget the stars.

Yosemite has some of the most majestic dark skies in California. On clear nights from spring to autumn, the Milky Way soars above.  On moonlit nights, Yosemite Falls glistens through the darkness. Escape from your campsite, head to the valley meadows or up to Glacier Point. Be still. You won’t be disappointed.

Yosemite Stars at Night Yosemite at night by @Alexiscoram 


“Down through the middle of the Valley flows the crystal Merced, River of Mercy, peacefully quiet, reflecting lilies and trees and the onlooking rocks; things frail and fleeting and types of endurance meeting here and blending in countless forms, as if into this one mountain mansion Nature had gathered her choicest treasures, to draw her lovers into close and confiding communion with her.”  ~John Muir


J: Thank you Alexis for the time and energy put into making this insightful post!

Alexis Coram is a travel photographer and filmmaker based in Silicon Valley, California. Yosemite is her playground. Follow Alexis on Instagram @alexiscoram for more, check out her fall huffington post feature, here.

#AOVblog #VisuallyInspired

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