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Blog Fossils to Falls Road Trip by Emily Taylor
Rhonda | 06/01/2020Hiking, Museums, History & Culture, Photography, Road Trip, Tours, Water Activities, Wineries & Agri-Tourism, Winery/Brewery/Bars |   

Fossils to Falls Road Trip by Emily Taylor

This article was created in partnership with Visit Yosemite | Madera County with photos by Emily Sierra Photography.

Yosemite Falls

“Hi, do you have the ‘Sandy the Squirrel' card ?” I asked, standing in Yosemite National Park in Yosemite Valley at the Ansel Adams Gallery. See, I was on a mission. Essentially a scavenger hunt leading through Yosemite National Park and beyond. By collecting two or more trading cards, I could win a serious vacation package to return to some of the most amazing country in the USA! What I didn't know was that this “highway” of sorts would bring me to some incredible places.


We hopped on the morning shuttle and headed up the winding road to crane our necks at some of the most massive living trees on the planet. One of the first sights in the grove is the "Fallen Monarch". To me, this giant downed tree resembled a large dinosaur that had fallen—there was just an archaic feeling about it. Moreover, each tree in the grove took on its own personality, illuminated by their name and shape. If I wasn’t seeking 'Galen, the Great-Horned Owl' card, I’m not sure I would have explored this natural wonder.

Fallen Monarch in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite National Park


We peered around at over 15,000 fossils in the Fossil Discovery Center in Chowchilla.  Life-size replicas and a variety of exhibits offered us a glimpse into the ecosystem that once ruled the area. We learned about flat-faced bears and dire wolves—species we didn’t know existed! Not only did we score our Fossils to Falls card here, but it was an easy stop on our way back to San Francisco for our flight home.

Columbian Mammoth at the Fossil Discovery CenterFossil Discovery Center


Who would ever suspect that you’d be able to sample wines and collect a cartooned trading card? At Ficklin Vineyards , we did just that. We sampled award-winning port and learned the nuances that delineate port from wine. Almond and pistachio crops dominate the region, but grapes have grown there for a long time also. Madera County is now establishing itself with tasting rooms and a place to explore wine country. This is a convenient stop while visiting Yosemite National Park.

 Ficklin Vineyards along the Madera Wine TrailMadera Wine Trail


We paddled onto the lake at sunset and watched the water dance with colors from the sky.  It was smooth and easy, and the water was a great temperature for swimming. With more time at Bass Lake, we'd definitely consider a motorized option for other lake fun and fishing! It's really no wonder that this lake was named one of "The West's Best Lakes" by Sunset Magazine .

Paddleboarding on Bass Lake


I don’t recall how many times I used this phrase. Chasing the ‘Fossils to Falls’ trail , I visited places I wasn’t previously acquainted with. We enjoyed uncrowded areas while visiting Yosemite National Park , and found unique experiences along the way. Collecting the playing cards was a fun pursuit for us, and I imagine that it would be a wonderful family road trip activity as well.

Sandy The Squirrel Trading Card

To download a copy of this blog here; Fossils To Falls Road Trip by Emily Taylor (English Version)!


Like what you see? Save any of these pins (or possibly all of them) to your travel planning board(s) to give you an easy way to find your way back here!  Also check out our other blog posts as well as itineraries for more ideas and pins!

Our annual Visit Yosemite | Madera County Visitors Guide can answer all your questions about visiting California's Gateway to Yosemite. From the park itself to the museums, wineries, art galleries and more throughout Madera County, our guide can help you plan the perfect vacation. Please note that we mail to the USA only, but anyone can download the guide.
Visit Yosemite - Madera County
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