Photos Of Shuttered Paradise: Yosemite Hike Before Shutdown

The last light of day reflected in a vibrant red on the north side of Half Dome. Bliss

Yosemite is the third most visited national park in the United States with almost 4 million guests in 2012, and right now it’s closed. I was lucky to visit before the government shutdown temporarily shuttered this national treasure.

Fortunately, it won’t stay closed long as a deal in the Senate appears to be on the verge of reopening the government and national parks along with it.

Late last month I took a 3-day backpacking trip, lead by Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides, to the park. This was my third time to California and first time to Yosemite. In the short time I was there, I became convinced that there can’t be many other places on earth that pack in even half of the jaw-dropping views I saw while hiking the North Rim Trail.

With trees that seem to touch the clouds and an endless jigsaw of granite monoliths, the 22-mile loop is one idyllic panorama. Add to this an endless potential of camping locations and the North Rim Trail hike easily takes the cake as my favorite weekend-sized adventure.

I hope the gates are soon lifted to this and many other national treasures. Until then, enjoy some photos of one of the most beautiful places on earth. —Amy Oberbroeckling

One of the most photographed vistas of all time, the “Tunnel Shot”

We mapped out our route before setting off. “We’re going to camp right across from Half Dome. Get ready for the best sunset of your life,” our guide, Colby Brokvist, said. Photo by; John Lloyd

Our hike started with some exploration of the valley. Long grasses seemed to glow under the fall sun

Upwards and onwards. The first day was a 4-mile hike with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. A respectable warmup. Photo by; John Lloyd

A first peak at Half Dome as we continued to hike up towards the rim

Blending in with vibrantly green lichen

Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides provided us with delicious trail-side lunches to keep us fueled along the hike

A late season visit to the park meant that the creeks and falls had stopped running. I took this as an opportunity to cool off after a long day on the trail

As we hiked up, the verdant valley below became dwarfed by the giant monoliths

Endless bouldering problems peppered the trail. Photo by; John Lloyd

We continued along the trail through a forest of wizened pine trees. Photo by; John Lloyd

The trees produced some of the largest pinecones I have ever seen

On our last night we camped right in front of Half Dome. One of most beautiful places I’ve ever slept

As the sun dropped, so did the temperature. We soaked in every last bit of sunlight

At night, the stars crammed the sky. Photo by;John Lloyd

The next morning we began our descent down the rocky trail into the valley

Back in the valley. The trees just starting to turn their autumnal colors. Photo by; Drew Simmons

One last bouldering problem on the bridge over the Merced River in Yosemite Valley

Amy Oberbroeckling

Amy Oberbroeckling, an Iowa native, joined GearJunkie out of college and brought a passion for endurance sports as well as a flawless record in arm wrestling matches against famous rock climbers. Find her biking, trail running, cross-country skiing, camping, or tipping back a cold IPA.