Top 10: Yosemite // Andrew M. Upchurch – Parks Project

By Andrew M. Upchurch

@andrewmupchurch //
Age: 25
Location: Yosemite, CA
Occupation: Interpretive Naturalist and Hiking Guide

Where to stay

Get ready to call it a night in one of the best places in the park.

Pines Campgrounds

If you can make a reservation… If you are really hardcore, but did not get a reservation, Camp 4 is a Yosemite classic first-come-first-serve campsite. You’ll probably have to get in line at 5am or so, but it’s an excellent place to rub shoulders with the dirtbags.


Where to enjoy a cold one

Because we both know that you deserve a reward after a strenuous hike, so always pack a cold one.

Taft Point

To be honest, I would have to say Taft Point must be the perfect place to kick it and enjoy a cold one. And yes, Taft really does live up to the hype. Bring a small cooler with you in your backpack with your drink of choice in it and you will have it made. Primo.  

Must-see landmark

If you're only gonna see one thing while you're here, make it this thing.

Half Dome

Half Dome of course! Can’t miss it. The iconic rock simply demands one’s attention and I can never resist the urge to fixate on this incredible granite formation. Let yourself go staring at it and see what wonders it can do for your soul...


Where to see sunrise/sunset

If you're gonna visit a park, always make time in your agenda for sunrise & sunset!

Sentinel Dome

For sunrise, I would have to say Sentinel Dome. It has a full on 360 degree panoramic view of the park, even into the High Sierras. It’s mesmerizing. For sunset, I would have to say that Taft Point takes the cake again. With a beer in hand of course. Just always make sure to bring a headlamp and extra batteries!

Secret Spot

Shh! Don't tell too many people, but here's the insider's favorite place.

Crocker Point

If I told you, I’d have to kill you. *wink wink* Okay, fine. For real, you gotta hike up to Crocker Point along the Pohono Trail a couple miles past Tunnel View. The place blows my mind every time and has ridiculously fewer people than Tunnel View. Make sure to remember to breathe while you take in these views!

Where to hike

Sometimes the best views take a bit of work.

Trail to Glacier Point

Head up the Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point, then down the Panorama and the Mist Trail. Twelve out of ten stars with an equal number of miles. I can’t tell you how many incredible vistas and different viewpoints you will encounter along this world-class loop hike. This one never gets old for me.

Where to refuel

Eating & drinking is just as important as camping & hiking.

The Half Dome Village Pizza Deck

Formerly known as Curry Village. CURRY FOREVER! Extra perk: There’s a bar right next to it with excellent craft brews. One really cannot go wrong with pizza and a beer after a long day of hiking or climbing. Rock on.

Selfie spot

You didn't actually visit the park if you didn't get a selfie in front of something iconic ;)

Valley View

I am partial to Valley View for this one. Can’t go wrong here with great views of El Capitain and Bridal Veil Falls right along the Merced River. Cheeeeese!

Radical Activity

Every park has a somethin' radical to get yourself into.

Rock Climbing

In Yosemite? Rock Climbing, no contest. Climbing history in Yosemite remains extremely present and I can almost feel as though I am climbing with the old-timers as I make my way up the granite cliffs. Bonus points if you watch the film “Valley Uprising” before you make your visit to Yosemite. It will make your trip just that much more meaningful!

Quintessential Scenic Drive

When your legs start to give out from hiking, hop in your car and go for a drive!  

Tioga Road

Drive up Tioga Road into Yosemite’s High Country. Definitely an oft-overlooked area in Yosemite that never fails to disapoint. The mountains and meadows the drive takes its visitors past will astound even hardest of heart. Also, blue hour along this road frequently brings me to tears. Cheers!

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