Like many people, visiting all of the country’s 63 National Parks is a lifelong ambition that I sincerely hope to complete someday. There’s just something special about an American National Park that is hard to describe and impossible to quantify; you have to experience it in order to truly understand. Within the pantheon of parks though some, through personal preference or history, certainly rise to the top and for most visitors Yosemite is one of those elite-level parks. Prior to 2021 I had never set foot in this most revered of parks, yet the year had me visit this California treasure not once but twice. It gives me the unique position of comparing two different travel styles and to share why I ultimately preferred one over the other.
My first venture into Yosemite was on my own, an experience I described in greater detail here. This second adventure though was part of a longer Globus tour experience around Northern California. Although certainly one of the highlights for many guests, the national park was in fact just one stop among several others.
Globus family of brands traces its history back to 1928, when founder Antonio Mantegazza started using a boat to take commercial goods across Lake Lugano in Switzerland. Since then the company has grown and evolved into what it is today, one of the largest travel companies in the world with more than 30 tourism and aviation business under its umbrella. I’ve actually traveled with Globus family of brands before both on Monograms independent trips as well as luxurious river cruises on Avalon Waterways. This trip though was with a part of the company that was new to me, but which serves as the company’s backbone – Globus. Tours offered by Globus are fully escorted and take many different forms in every corner of the world, including one of America’s great natural treasures.
One aspect I love of visiting any National Park is how accessible they are, even if your time is very limited. In most cases the National Park Service has created short driving loops showcasing the best of the park in as little as half a day. I know that it may sound slightly sacrilegious to only devote a few hours to any National Park, but in my experience I’ve always walked away thrilled with my National Park adventures. The same holds true in Yosemite, where it in fact possible to self-drive and see many of the park’s highlights. There is a problem here though that greatly affected my first experience but also had me excited for the second trip – the people.
As one of the country’s most popular national parks, Yosemite hosts millions of visitors every year. Given the incredible size of the park one wouldn’t think this an issue, but because nearly all visitors try to access the same points, congestion is a very real problem. Instead of reveling in the same beauty that inspired Muir, I found myself competing with scores of others for various parking spots as I tried to see some of the park’s most notable sites. Ordinarily the park has a shuttle system, but not during COVID, which only actuated the problem. I left after that first day exhausted and frustrated and without having experienced the best of Yosemite.
That feeling of frustration dogged me though and I was disappointed that I hadn’t figured out a way to better experience the park. Then Globus came along and the light bulb went on. Touring has many associated benefits, but perhaps the most laudable is leaving the driving up to someone else. I love a great road trip, but when the goal is mere conveyance, I naturally would prefer not to drive. More than that though, taking an escorted tour in Yosemite meant I’d never have to battle for a parking space, enabling me to finally experience the best of the park.
Over two days we enjoyed incredible access to Yosemite, thanks not only to our guide but our hotel that was mere minutes from the park entrance. This Globus tour also featured several destinations where we had a choice in excursions; a new but already popular touring feature. In Yosemite I chose to experience the park through the eyes of one of its most famous fans – Ansel Adams. Some of the photographer’s most famous works were all shot in Yosemite, a place for which he developed a deep affinity. Through the help of a resident photographer, we learned not only about Adams and his time in Yosemite, but we also visited the spots where he shot those incredible photos. While my own shots from the same vantage points don’t compare to those of the great master, it was fun to be in the very spot that had so captured Adams’ imagination.
Leaving Yosemite Valley after my second experience could not have been more different than my first. Instead of frustrated, tired and exasperated I was exuberant and inspired by what I discovered. Upon reflection is was due to the access I enjoyed throughout my trip, access that could only have been provided through Globus. The touring experience completely transformed my impression of the park enabling me to be inspired by it as has happened to so many others before me. Before traveling with Globus I hadn’t considered this ease of access to be one of the tour highlights, but for me it’s really what the whole trip was all about. If you think about it, that’s a defining feature of so many trips we take, which in turn makes choosing to travel with a company like Globus one of the most important decisions of the travel planning process.