Travel Answers: San Francisco! Yosemite!

Travel Answers for San Francisco and Yosemite:

Q: What’s a great day trip from SF that’s not wine country?

A: Great Day Trip from San Francisco?

Drive south on beautiful Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. Stop along the way in Pacifica, Half Moon Bay, Davenport and/or at Ano Nuevo State Reserve and see the Elephant Seals.

Pacific Ocean from Highway 1 (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Pacific Ocean from Highway 1 (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Visit the beach and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, shop the Pacific Garden Mall, and check out the University of California, Santa Cruz (arboretum, performances, museums & special collections at the McHenry Library). Tour the campus, there are great views of Monterey Bay, art installations and walking paths/roads through the meadows, pastures and redwood forest on the hill (just stop and get a visitor pass at the main gate).

There are plentiful beaches, galleries, shops, restaurants, bars, wineries, clubs and other performance venues in Santa Cruz and in the nearby communities of Capitola, Aptos, Felton & Bonny Doon.

Check out the world famous Mystery Spot and Lighthouse Field State Beach! The Evergreen Cemetery est. ~1885 is one of the oldest in the bay area and state and it’s now a tourist attraction.

Return to San Francisco via Highways 17 (880) to San Jose and the 280 or 101 freeways back to the city sometime after sunset.


 

San Francisco from the Bay Bridge (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

San Francisco from the Bay Bridge (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Best 3-day weekend trip from San Francisco? Looking for something outdoorsy that would be a good use of weekend summer trip. Ideally somewhere warm enough for sun, swimming & shorts. Probably for a small group (either 2 or 4 ppl).

A: 3-Day Trip from San Francisco? People have already recommended Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey and Santa Cruz to the south. Marin, Napa, Vallejo, Mendocino, and Lake Tahoe to the north. So how about going east to Yosemite National Park? Yosemite, Merced, Mariposa are all within driving distance and only a few hours away. Just make sure to make a reservation! http://www.nps.gov

Half Dome - Yosemite, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome – Yosemite, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)


Q: Best airport to fly into for a week at Yosemite?

I’m planning a fall trip to Yosemite and trying to figure out which airport to fly into: Sacramento, Fresno, San Fran? I’m coming from New York so I have some airline options. I’m most concerned about which airport will have sufficient car rental options and flights at all hours.

A: If you’re flying in from NYC, you’re going to have to land in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland or Los Angeles. Each has it positives and negatives, so base your decision on the cost of airfare and then determine the best mode of transport from your destination city.

Rent a car (get unlimited mileage plus insurance) or take Amtrak (train and bus combo) from Los Angeles or San Francisco/Oakland. The bus will take you right into Yosemite National Park and drop you at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and it’s both less expensive and cleaner than driving! www.amtrak.com/san-joaquin-train

The drive from Los Angeles is about 6 hours, and you’ll travel the 5 freeway to interstate 99 through Bakersfield, Fresno and the Central Valley to interstate 41 into Yosemite.

The drive from the Bay Area is about 4 and 1/2 hours (could be longer with traffic) on highway 580 through San Leandro and Livermore to highway 205 through Manteca to interstate 120 into Yosemite.

NOTE: If you’re driving in the Sierra Mountains in the Fall, be prepared for rain and snow at higher elevations, some roads may require tire chains (sometimes a problem with a rental vehicle).

There are also tour companies that have chartered buses that will take you into the park, or backpack/bus adventure travel companies like Green Tortoise from San Francisco that include more than just transport: www.greentortoise.com/adventures/yosemite-national-park-tour-3d.php

NOTE: If you’re going to take a chartered bus, make sure the company is CA state licensed and check their safety and consumer record before buying a ticket!

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)


Q: Most impressive staircases you’ve ever seen?

I recently saw some of the craziest staircases in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Where else in the world has cool, winding, or even weird staircases? Want to plan some trips to see them..pictures would be awesome, thanks!

A: In Yosemite Valley there is a stairway to the top of Vernal Nevada Falls that was carved out of the granite rock. You can start at the bottom of Vernal Falls and climb 2000 feet to the top of Nevada Falls and the rim of the valley.

“Climb along nature’s giant staircase, where you are rewarded with close-up views of two waterfalls and numerous geologic features (depending on how far you choose to hike)…Prepare for slippery footing and a tremendous amount of waterfall spray in spring and early summer (hence the name for this trail!).”

Follow the Mist Trail 0.5 miles up a steep granite stairway of over 600 steps! Continue on to the top of Half Dome if you have a permit (and “weather permitting”).


Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Where was your favorite backpacking destination? Out of all the places in the world, where was your favorite backpacking destination and why?

A: My favorite backpacking destination: Tiltill Valley above Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in northern Yosemite National Park. Picture a valley just like Yosemite except there are no other people, no cars, no shuttle buses, no buildings… just an amazing wilderness all to yourself. It’s a long day hike uphill to reach the Tiltill Valley, but it’s worth the trip!

The trailhead begins at the Hetch Hetchy parking area, and it’s a rugged uphill trek past the reservoir and into the backcountry (be sure to get your permits at the ranger station and be aware you are in “BEAR COUNTRY” – problem bears are relocated to this area of the park).

p.s. I don’t recommend backpacking solo, you should always have at least one travel buddy when you are in the backcountry!


Yosemite in Winter (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite in Winter (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: How many days would I need to explore most of what Yosemite has to offer? I’m planning on going there some day and I would like to know how much days would I need to explore most of what the National Park has to offer! Thanks.

A: How many days in Yosemite National Park? It depends on how much of the park you want to explore. If you just want to see Yosemite Valley, you should allow at least three days. You should add more days if you want to really see everything! It also depends on how active a hiker you are because there are great things to do and day trips with varying degrees of difficulty you can experience. Ride the Shuttlebus and walk the valley, tour the valley in an open air tram, hike to Mirror Lake, picnic at Yosemite Beach, hike to the top of the waterfalls or around the rim of the valley, climb to the top of Half Dome or El Capitan. Visit Yosemite Village and the Ansel Adams Gallery and be sure to check out the The Ahwahnee Hotel.

Accommodations in the park range from tent and camp sites, RV sites, covered campsites, tent cabins, and hotel rooms. You need to make reservations for any of the concession vendors a long time in advance at nps.gov and there are lots of rules and regulations you need to be aware of before and during your visit.

REMEMBER YOU ARE IN BEAR COUNTRY!

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

There are other areas to see within the park or just outside: Tuolumne Meadows, Mariposa Grove and the Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees, Wawona Point (and historic hotel), skiing at Yosemite’s Badger Pass in winter), Bass Lake, Oakhurst, and many others. You should allow 1-3 days or more for each area depending on how active a hiker/camper/skier/snowboarder you are.

If you want to experience the backcountry as a backpacker/camper you should plan 3-14 day trips. there are great areas in and around the park. I’ve been to the Tiltill Valley above Hetch Hetchy Loop and down the South Fork Merced River in the Sierra National Forest, both of which were excellent backpacking trips! Be sure to learn the necessary skills and the park rules and regulations before entering the wilderness.

You are also close to Lee Vining, Mammoth Mountain and Mono Lake State Preserve which are near the east entrance to the park.

See also John Muir Trail and the Yosemite Park website nps.gov for more info.


 

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: You have a day to explore Yosemite. What do you HAVE to see?

I love everything about being outdoors, especially around water. I like hiking, but I don’t get too extreme. Viewpoints that are hidden/will make me never want to leave would be loved.

A: What to see in Yosemite Valley? Everything!

Ride the Shuttlebus, walk the valley paths and bridges, raft or inner tube down the river, tour the valley in an open air tram, hike to Mirror Lake, Picnic at Sentinel Beach Picnic Area, hike to the top of any of the waterfalls or around the rim of the valley or to the top of Half Dome, climb El Capitan. Visit Yosemite Villageand see the Visitor Center and the Ansel Adams Gallery, shop at Curry Village and be sure to check out the Ahwahnee Hotel. See my other answers for more.


Wawona Hotel - Yosemite (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Wawona Hotel – Yosemite (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Places to stay in Yosemite? If anyone is familiar with places to stay IN the Yosemite Park… I am trying to decide between a few places… Curry Village, Yosemite at the Falls & Wawona Hotel. From what I gather there aren’t bathrooms in Wawona Hotel (not so thrilled with that idea). Any advice, please on these 3 places?

A: Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is the best place to stay, unless you can afford the Ahwahnee Hotel. It’s centrally located in Yosemite Valley near Yosemite Falls and a couple shuttle stops (almost walking distance) from Yosemite Village. The accommodations are “motel quality” but nice enough considering you won’t want to be inside very much.

Curry Village is near Half Dome, and on the shuttle route. The accommodations are mostly tent cabins with shared facilities and some full cabins with private facilities.

Both Yosemite Lodge and Curry Village have a “cafeteria” style restaurant, a “hamburger stand”, a bar/restaurant and mini-market/gift shops. Yosemite Lodge also has a nice sit-down upscale restaurant.

The Wawona Hotel sits up on the rim of the valley about a 45 minute drive from the valley floor and the village. It’s a very nice historic hotel, but not really convenient if you want to be in the valley. There are cabins with private facilities and they are very nice if you don’t mind walking outdoors to get to the main building (more of a problem in winter). Wawona is great if you want to ski at Badger Pass Ski Area, visit Glacier Point or the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwoods.

There are Ranger led nature talks available and other entertainment at all three locations. Yosemite Village has a market, a Visitor’s Center with an Indian Village and interpretive programs, the Ansel Adams Gallery, the post office and more restaurants and gift shops.

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Yosemite Falls - Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Falls – Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)





 

 

See Southern Oregon! (btw Sacramento CA & Bend OR)

Travel Answers about Southern Oregon!

Visit our Ashland, Oregon facebook page: www.facebook.com/theatreinashland

Q: What is a must see between Sacramento, CA and Bend, OR?

My husband and I will be driving from Sacramento, CA, to Bend, OR, in early August, what are some must sees along the way?  I just discovered the Mt Shasta Lavender Farm will be closed for the season August 4 the day we will be doing our drive north.

A: Must see between Sacramento, CA and Bend, OR?

Food, Wine & Theatre in Ashland Oregon with JoshWillTravel

Food, Wine & Theatre in Ashland Oregon with JoshWillTravel

Ashland in Southern Oregon is just across the California border on the 5 freeway.

Home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Southern Oregon University, the city is a great place to stop and stay overnight or for a few days.

The OSF theatre season runs February to November, and there are free Green Shows during the summer. There are several other theaters in town and nearby, and the university has a full schedule of music, dance and drama programs as well. The Britt Festival Pavilion hosts great concerts and the Oang Medford Armory always has events scheduled.

Lithia Park - Ashland, Oregon

Lithia Park – Ashland, Oregon

Lithia Park was just voted one of the best parks in the United States, and is right off downtown. There’s hiking, biking, sports, a playground, a lake for swimming, ice skating in winter and bandshell concerts in summer.

There are lots of really great restaurants in Ashland! Beasy’s On The Creek, Peerless Hotel & Restaurant, and Amuse to name just three of the best. Other food places of note are Callahan’s Lodge and Restaurant, New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro outside Ashland, Puck’s Doughnuts and Noble Coffee in town.

The historic Ashland Springs Hotel with Lark’s Restaurant is located on Main Street and the Lithia Springs Resort is just north of town. Both are good choices if you’re staying overnight, and there are many other hotels, motels, B&Bs, and other accommodations available in Ashland or any of the neighboring towns.

Rogue Valley, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Rogue Valley, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

There are great wineries that offer tastings throughout the Rogue, Applegate, Umpqua and Willamette Valleys like Weisinger’s Winery, RoxyAnn Winery and Grizzly Peak Winery, named for the mountain and there’s great hiking at Grizzly Peak Trail and Mt. Ashland Ski Resort.

Visit historic Jacksonville (Oregon) and drive by Medford, but be sure stop in Central Point at Lillie Belle Farms Artisan Chocolatesand the Rogue Creamery cheese shop before continuing north.

Visit our facebook page “Food, Wine and Theatre in Ashland, Oregon with JoshWillTravel” for more info: www.facebook.com/theatreinashland


Q: “Can’t miss” in Oregon Wine Country? Where’s best base? Best time to go?

We’re planning a trip to explore the best of Oregon’s wine country and would appreciate any insider suggestions as to when is the least expensive and least crowded time to go, where to stay to maximize the experience and what we should be sure to do!

It will be my boyfriend and I, less expensive is ideal, I prefer white wines but know this is red wine country!  Want to do as little driving as possible but understand that wineries are spread out….

Are there any festivals or events we should check out?

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

A: Oregon Wine Country!

Visit the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon.Stay in Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Visit historic Jacksonville, home of the Britt Festivals and Medford, home of the Harry & David Country Village.

There are lots of great wineries: Grizzly Peak Winery, RoxyAnn Winery, Weisinger’s Winery, Trium Wine, EdenVale Winery and many others. You’re also just south of the Applegate, Umpqua and Willamette Valley wineries, so there are great day trips available.

There are also many great restaurants, places to shop, tourist activities and nice places to stay in addition to the wine and theatre available in Ashland. Please see my other answers for more details!

There’s skiing at Mt. Ashland Ski Resort if there’s snow.

Another great day trip is north 2-1/2 hours to Crater Lake National Park


Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon

Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon

Q: Place to stay w/ Kids at Crater Lake?

Driving up to Crater Lake this summer w/ 3 kids in tow. Would love a recommendation for a place to stay for 2 nights as close as possible to the lake.

Place to stay w/ Kids at Crater Lake National Park?

A: The best place to stay inside the park is the historic Crater Lake Lodge inside the park on the rim of the lake. Spend the extra money and get a room with a view if available!

From the nps.gov website: http://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Crater Lake Lodge has 71 rooms and is normally open mid May through mid October (2014 Operating Season is May 16 – October 12, 2013). Advance reservations are strongly recommended and can be made on-line or by calling (888) 774-2728 

Cabins At Mazama has 40 units and is located in the Mazama Village complex. It is open late May through early October (2014 Operating Season is May 23 – October 5, 2014). Reservations are recommended. (888) 774-2728

RESERVATIONS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED!

Accommodations for spring and summer book early and sell out fast! Check the nps.gov website for info.

There are additional places to stay (motels and cabins for rent) and activities (rafting, fishing, horseback riding, and more) available outside the park near Lost Creek Lake, Prospect, Fort Klamath, along the Rogue River and Highway 62 down the mountain.

 

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Travel Answers: Yosemite!

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT YOSEMITE!

HOW MANY DAYS IN YOSEMITE VALLEY? 

It depends on how much of the park you want to explore or if you just want to see Yosemite Valley.Allow at least three days! You should add more days if you want to really see everything! It also depends on how active a hiker you are. There are great things to do and many day trips with varying degrees of difficulty you can experience in and around the park.

WHAT ARE “MUST SEE” SIGHTS AND THINGS TO DO? 

In Yosemite Valley, ride the Shuttlebus, walk the valley paths and bridges, raft or inner tube down the river, tour the valley in an open air tram, hike to Mirror Lake, picnic at Sentinel Beach Picnic Area, hike to the top of any of the waterfalls or around the rim of the valley or to the top of Half Dome, climb El Capitan. Visit Yosemite Village and see the Visitor Center and the Ansel Adams Gallery, shop at Curry Village and be sure to check out the Ahwahnee Hotel.

REMEMBER YOU ARE IN BEAR COUNTRY!

There are other areas to see within the park or just outside: Tuolumne Meadows, Mariposa Groveand the Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees, Wawona Point (and historic hotel), skiing at Yosemite’s Badger Pass in winter), Bass Lake, Oakhurst, and many others. You should allow 1-3 days or more for each area depending on how active a hiker/camper/skier/snowboarder you are.

If you want to experience the backcountry as a backpacker/camper you should plan 3-14 day trips. there are great areas in and around the park. I’ve been to the Tiltill Valley above Hetch Hetchy Loop and down the South Fork Merced River in the Sierra National Forest, both of which were excellent backpacking trips! Be sure to learn the necessary skills and the park rules and regulations before entering the wilderness.

You are also close to Lee Vining, Mammoth Mountain and Mono Lake State Preserve which are near the east entrance to the park.

See also John Muir Trail and the Yosemite Park website for more info.

MOSQUITOES? 

Yes, there are mosquitoes in Yosemite National Park! They primarily feed at dusk and dawn, but you should be prepared and use repellent all day and night if you have reactions. From the http://www.nps.gov website:

  • Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, mainly during the summer. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants or consider staying indoors during these hours. Ticks cling to plants, waiting for a host (you) to walk by; walk down the middle of trails and avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Use an effective insect repellent.
    Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 typically provide reasonably long-lasting protection against mosquitoes, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends repellents containing DEET or permethrin to repel ticks.

WHERE TO STAY?

Accommodations in the park range from tent and camp sites, RV sites, covered campsites, tent cabins, and hotel rooms. You need to make reservations for any of the concession vendors a long time in advance at nps.gov and there are lots of rules and regulations you need to be aware of before and during your visit.

In Yosemite Valley, the Ahwahnee Hotel is a luxury resort and the Yosemite Lodge at the Fallsis more of a family hotel/motel. Curry Village has tent cabins and some hotel/motel type rooms as well. There are a few campgrounds with covered camp sites, tent sites and rv sites if you want the full experience of “roughing it”.

The historic Wawona Hotel and Tuolumne Meadows Lodge (tent cabins and campsites only) are both inside the park concessionaires on the rim of the valley. Near Wawona there is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees and skiing in winter at Yosemite’s Badger Pass and Toulomne Meadows and Tenaya Lake are worth the trip when the roads are open and there is a grove of Giant Sequoias there as well.

There are a number of hotels, condos for rent, cabins and campgrounds just outside the park too.

CAMPING?

Do you have a reservation? Most of the campsites in Upper, Lower, and North Pines Campground for summer are “sold out” before May! If you don’t have reservations, you can try to get a campsite in the valley on the day you are there, or there’s “Backpacker’s Camp” (Camp 4) which is “first-come/first-served”.

From the National Park Service website:

“Yosemite National Park has 13 campgrounds, of which up to seven are on a reservation system. From April through September, reservations are essential and even the first-come first-served campgrounds often fill by noon from May through September.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS?

Reservations are required from about March 15 through November for Yosemite Valley’s car campgrounds and summer through fall for Hodgdon Meadow, Crane Flat, Wawona, and half of Tuolumne Meadows. Campground reservations are available in blocks of one month at a time, up to five months in advance, on the 15th of each month at 7 am Pacific time. Be aware that nearly all reservations for the months of May through September and for some other weekends are filled the first day they become available, usually within seconds or minutes after 7 am!”

Here is the link to the nps.gov site: www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/camping.htm

NOTE: Check and see if Housekeeping Camp in Yosemite Valley is still available! If you can’t get camping in the valley, there are campgrounds in the park on the rim (about an hour from the valley) and just outside the park as well. Camp Wawona is on the rim near the Wawona Hotel, Yosemite’s Badger Pass, Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Glacier Point. Wawona is also close to Oakhurst which is a real town with markets, laundromats, restaurants, etc. Soquel Campground and Crane Flat Campground are farther away.

COOKING IN YOSEMITE PARK?

INFO FOR WAWONA (AND OTHER) CAMPGROUNDS?

From the NPS.gov website: “Each campsite contains a fire ring, picnic table, and food locker [33″(D)x45″(W)x18″(H)], and is near a bathroom with potable water and flushing toilets. You are required to store food properly in order to protect Yosemite’s bears.

In out-of-Valley campgrounds, fires are permitted at any time. Fires must always be attended and put out completely with water when not attended (do not let them smolder). Firewood collection (including pine cones and pine needles) is not permitted in Yosemite. We discourage visitors from bringing firewood from more than 50 miles away to prevent spread of forest pests. You can purchase firewood at stores near most campgrounds.

Camp wastewater must be disposed of in designated utility drains.”

The fire rings may have a grill, but you should plan on bringing EVERYTHING you want to have for cooking. There’s lots of information online about camping and camp cooking, so spend a little time researching “camp hacks” etc. so you’ll have some ideas.

Plan your meals, bring your ingredients and spices, if you’re car camping and you have room, bring the comforts you want. Keep it simple! Things you can cook in and with boiling water, things you can grill over a fire, things you can wrap in foil/cook in the fire, and things you don’t have to cook are best.

Remember to bring bottled WATER, cooking and eating utensils, can opener, corkscrew, trash bags and cleaning stuff that isn’t harmful to the environment!

HOW TO GET THERE?

If you’re flying in, you’re going to have to land in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland or Los Angeles. Each has it positives and negatives, so base your decision on the cost of airfare and then determine the best mode of transport from your destination city.

Rent a car (get unlimited mileage plus insurance) or take Amtrak (train and bus combo) from Los Angeles or San Francisco/Oakland. The bus will take you right into Yosemite National Park and drop you atYosemite Lodge at the Falls and it’s both less expensive and cleaner than driving! www.amtrak.com/san-joaquin-train

The drive from Los Angeles is about 6 hours, and you’ll travel the 5 freeway to interstate 99 through Bakersfield, Fresno and the Central Valley to interstate 41 into Yosemite.

The drive from the Bay Area is about 4 and 1/2 hours (could be longer with traffic) on highway 580 through San Leandro and Livermore to highway 205 through Manteca to interstate 120 into Yosemite.

NOTE: If you’re driving in the Sierra Mountains in the Fall, be prepared for rain and snow at higher elevations, some roads may require tire chains (sometimes a problem with a rental vehicle).

There are also tour companies that have chartered buses that will take you into the park, or backpack/bus adventure travel companies like Green Tortoise from San Francisco that include more than just transport: www.greentortoise.com/adventures/yosemite-national-park-tour-3d.php

NOTE: If you’re going to take a chartered bus, make sure the company is CA state licensed and check their safety and consumer record before buying a ticket!

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I Posted This Travel Answer About Crater Lake!

Crater Lake is a volcanic caldera lake in southern Oregon. It’s the main feature of Crater Lake National Park and famous for its deep blue color, water clarity and elevation. The lake partly fills a nearly 4,000 feet deep caldera that was formed around 5,677 BC by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama.

Crater Lake, Oregon (photo from wikipedia.org)

Aerial View of Crater Lake, Oregon (photo from wikipedia.org)

Q: Place to stay at Crater Lake National Park? A: The best place to stay inside the park is the historic Crater Lake Lodge on the rim of the lake. Spend the extra money and get a room with a view if available! From the nps.gov website: http://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/hours.htm Crater Lake Lodge has 71 rooms and is normally open mid May through mid October (2014 Operating Season is May 16 – October 12, 2013). Advance reservations are strongly recommended and can be made on-line or by calling (888) 774-2728 Cabins At Mazama has 40 units and is located in the Mazama Village complex. It is open late May through early October (2014 Operating Season is May 23 – October 5, 2014). Reservations are recommended. (888) 774-2728 RESERVATIONS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED! Accommodations for spring and summer book early and sell out fast! Check the nps.gov website for info. There are additional places to stay (motels and cabins for rent) and activities (rafting, fishing, horseback riding, and more) available outside the park near Lost Creek Lake, Prospect, Fort Klamath, along the Rogue River and Highway 62 down the mountain. http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravelhttp://www.twitter.com/joshwilltravel

Travel Answers about Yosemite: Best Camping Sites in Yosemite Valley?

Yosemite National Park: Best camping sites in the Yosemite Valley area?

Sunrise on Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Sunrise on Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Hi, I am looking for a camping site around the valley area. We are going to visit in mid June for 2 nights and are looking for a good spot to camp. Thanks!

A: Do you have a reservation? Most of the campsites in Upper, Lower, and North Pines Campground for summer are “sold out” before May! If you don’t have reservations, you can try to get a campsite in the valley on the day you are there, or there’s “Backpacker’s Camp” (Camp 4) which is “first-come/first-served”.

From the National Park Service website:

“Yosemite National Park has 13 campgrounds, of which up to seven are on a reservation system. From April through September, reservations are essential and even the first-come first-served campgrounds often fill by noon from May through September.

Campground Reservations

Reservations are required from about March 15 through November for Yosemite Valley’s car campgrounds and summer through fall for Hodgdon Meadow, Crane Flat, Wawona, and half of Tuolumne Meadows. Campground reservations are available in blocks of one month at a time, up to five months in advance, on the 15th of each month at 7 am Pacific time. Be aware that nearly all reservations for the months of May through September and for some other weekends are filled the first day they become available, usually within seconds or minutes after 7 am!”

Here is the link to the nps.gov site:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/camping.htm

If you can’t get camping in the valley, there are campgrounds in the park on the rim (about an hour from the valley) and just outside the park as well.

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

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And a Follow Up Question:

Q: Hey Josh! Thanks so much for the super insightful answer. I found out that as you said, most campsites are fully booked. I found availability in the following: 1. Camp Wawona, 2. Silver Lake Campground, 3. Soquel Campground, 4. Crane Flat Campground. Do you know any of these ? Any thoughts? Thanks, Yaniv G. 

A: Check and see if Housekeeping Camp in Yosemite Valley is still available!

Camp Wawona is on the rim near the Wawona Hotel, Yosemite’s Badger Pass, Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Glacier Point. Wawona is also close to Oakhurst which is a real town with markets, laundromats, restaurants, etc.

Giant Sequoia Redwood Tree - Mariposa Grove, Yosemite, CA (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Giant Sequoia Redwood Tree – Yosemite, CA (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Soquel Campground and Crane Flat Campground are farther away.

See my other Yosemite post for Hotels in the Valley.

 Half Dome - Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome and Yosemite Valley, California – Spring 1985 (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome from across the valley - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Half Dome and Yosemite Valley, California – Fall 2011 (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

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Travel Answers about Yosemite: How Many Days in Yosemite? Where to Stay?

Travel Answers about Yosemite: How Many Days in Yosemite? Where to Stay?

How many days in Yosemite National Park?

Yosemite Valley First snow of the season! (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley First snow of the season! (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Answer: It depends on how much of the park you want to explore. If you just want to see Yosemite Valley, you should allow at least three days. You should add more days if you want to really see everything! It also depends on how active a hiker you are because there are great things to do and day trips with varying degrees of difficulty you can experience. Ride the Shuttlebus and walk the valley, tour the valley in an open air tram, hike to Mirror Lake, picnic at Yosemite Beach, hike to the top of the waterfalls or around the rim of the valley, climb to the top of Half Dome or El Capitan. Visit Yosemite Village and the Ansel Adams Gallery and be sure to check out the The Ahwahnee Hotel.

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Accommodations in the park range from tent and camp sites, RV sites, covered campsites, tent cabins, and hotel rooms. You need to make reservations for any of the concession vendors a long time in advance at nps.gov and there are lots of rules and regulations you need to be aware of before and during your visit.

REMEMBER YOU ARE IN BEAR COUNTRY!

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

There are other areas to see within the park or just outside: Tuolumne Meadows, Wawona Point (and historic Wawona Hotel), the Mariposa Grove and Tuolomne Meadows Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees:

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwoods (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Try skiing at Yosemite’s Badger Pass (in winter), visit Bass Lake, Oakhurst, and many others just outside the park. You should allow 1-3 days or more for each area depending on how active a hiker/camper/skier/snowboarder you are.

Yosemite in Winter (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite in Winter (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

If you want to experience the backcountry as a backpacker/camper you should plan 3-14 day trips. there are great areas in and around the park. I’ve been to the Tiltill Valley above Hetch Hetchy Loop and down the South Fork of the Merced in the Sierra National Forest, both of which were excellent backpacking trips! Be sure to learn the necessary skills and the park rules and regulations before entering the wilderness.

Yosemite Falls - Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Falls – Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

You are also close to Lee Vining, Mammoth Mountain and Mono Lake State Preserve which are near the east entrance to the park.

View from the Visitor's Center - Lee Vining, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

View from the Visitor’s Center – Lee Vining, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

See also John Muir Trail and the Yosemite Park website for more info.

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Good places to stay for families in the park?

Answer: In Yosemite Valley, the Ahwahnee Hotel is a luxury resort and the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is more of a family hotel/motel. Curry Village has tent cabins and some hotel/motel type rooms as well.

There are a few campgrounds with covered camp sites, tent sites and rv sites if you want the full experience of “roughing it”.

Wawona Hotel - Yosemite (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Historic Wawona Hotel – Yosemite (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

The historic Wawona Hotel and Tuolumne Meadows Lodge (tent cabins and campsites only) are both inside the park concessionaires on the rim of the valley. Near Wawona there is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees and skiing in winter at Yosemite’s Badger Pass and Toulomne Meadows and Tenaya Lake are worth the trip when the roads are open and there is a grove of Giant Sequoias there as well.

There are a number of hotels, condos for rent, cabins and campgrounds just outside the park too.

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YOSEMITE 2011 – Part 3 Down in the Valley: Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Roadtrip 2011

This is PART 3 – GET READY FOR MORE OF NATURE’S AWESOME BEAUTY!!!

El Capitan - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

El Capitan – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

To view PART 1 – click this link:

https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/yosemite-2011-part-1-road-trip-to-tuolumne-meadows/

To view PART 2 – click this link:

https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/yosemite-2011-part-2-tuolumne-meadows/

PART 3 – Down in the Valley: Yosemite Valley

At the end of PART 2 we left off at Olmstead Point on Monday morning, heading down into Yosemite Valley, destination: Yosemite Lodge.  More pictures from Olmstead Point:

Granite Dome near Olmstead Point - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Granite Dome near Olmstead Point – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome from Olmstead Point - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Aaron Barth)

Half Dome from Olmstead Point – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome from Olmstead Point - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Half Dome from Olmstead Point – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

The drive from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley takes about an hour and a half.  There are lots of places to turnout and stop along the way.  We stopped for pictures and used the facilities at a picnic area on our way to Yosemite Lodge.

Picture Point along the Tioga Road - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Picture Point along the Tioga Road – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

We arrived at Yosemite Lodge too early in the day and even though we were able to check in, our room wouldn’t be ready for a few hours.  We were given the Lodge WiFi password, which enables you to access park visitor information via your mobile device, nice technological extra for the “internet generation”.  We thought about taking the Valley Tour, where you ride around in an open air bus, but instead we parked the car and hopped the shuttle to our first adventure, just past Curry Village: the hike to the base of Half Dome and what used to be Mirror Lake.

Half Dome from the trail to Mirror Lake - Yosemite, Calfiornia (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Half Dome from the trail to Mirror Lake – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome is a granite dome at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley. Yosemite’s most familiar rock formation, the crest rises more than 4,737 ft above the valley floor. On March 28, 2009, a large rock slide of 1,500,000 cubic feet occurred from Ahwiyah Point. The slide damaged a large area under the dome. No one was injured but hundreds of trees were knocked down and a portion of the Mirror Lake trail was buried. The slide registered an earthquake reading of 2.5 on the Richter scale.

Trail to the base of Half Dome and Mirror Lake - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Trail to the base of Half Dome and Mirror Lake – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Mirror Lake is a small, seasonal lake located on Tenaya Creek between North Dome and Half Dome. It is the last remnant of a large glacial lake that once filled most of Yosemite Valley at the end of the last Ice Age, and is close to disappearing due to sediment accumulation.

Half Dome from Mirror Lake - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Half Dome from Mirror Lake – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

The road from the shuttle stop is only accessible by walking, bicycle or park transport for disabled visitors.  It’s a nice hike, and of course, wherever you go in Yosemite, carry drinking water and prepare for changes in the weather.  We hiked out to the picnic area at Mirror Lake, enjoyed the area for a time and then hike back and caught the shuttle bus to Yosemite Village.  As you can see, it was a beautiful day, and the weather was warm.  It was the Monday of the weekend after Labor Day, so schools were in session and the valley was less crowded than during the Summer season.

Half Dome from across the valley - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Half Dome from across the valley – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

We visited the Visitor’s Center, the Ansel Adams Gallery and the Village Store.  I grabbed a burger at the grill and we sat outside on the patio with German tourists.  After lunch we hiked over to the base of Yosemite Falls.

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Falls - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Falls – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Falls is the highest measured waterfall in North America.  It is a major attraction in the park, especially in late spring when the water flow is at its peak.  The total 2,425 feet from the top of the upper falls to the base of the lower falls qualifies Yosemite Falls as the sixth highest waterfall in the world.

Lower Yosemite Falls - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Lower Yosemite Falls – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

After a short hike back to the Lodge we checked in again and got our room keys (no keycards here).  The Yosemite Lodge is basically bare bones motel accomodations.  After the flood, they took out most of the cabins, and now there are just a number of two-story motel buildings surrounding the Lodge proper and the shops and dining rooms.  It’s definitely NOT the Ahwahnee Hotel, but compared to the tent cabins and communal shower at Tuolumne Lodge, it’s luxury. Actually it’s wonderful to have a warm bed, with a private shower and toilet, after roughing it in the rain and cold.  We put our stuff in the room and then drove over to Sentinel Beach (yes there is a beach) and the less traveled end of the valley for some more sightseeing.

Sentinel Beach - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Sentinel Beach – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

When you visit the valley to fully enjoy the park, be sure to get to the less traveled areas.   At Sentinel Beach, we were almost alone, so we made friends with a Raven.

Quote the Raven "Nevermore" Sentinel Beach - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Raven at Sentinel Beach – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

North Dome - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

North Dome – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

North Dome is a granite dome and is the southern summit of Indian Ridge on the northeastern wall of Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Sentinel Rock – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Bridalveil Falls - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Bridalveil Falls – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

El Capitan - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

El Capitan – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

El Capitan is a granite monolith located on the north side of Yosemite Valley near its western end. It towers over Yosemite about 3,000 feet from base to summit along its tallest face, and is one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers.

Base of  El Capitan - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Near the Base of El Capitan – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Cathedral Rock and Cathedral Spires - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Cathedral Rock and Spires – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

We drove back to the lodge and had dinner at the dining hall/cafeteria.  They have different food stations and there are lots of tasty choices and the food prices reflect the vendor monopoly in the park.  I had the chicken sandwich and my stepbrother had fish.  After dinner we went back to the room took showers and got cleaned up.  Then we went over to the Mountain Room Bar and watched Monday Night Football and had a beer.

Mountain Room at Yosemite Lodge (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Mountain Room at Yosemite Lodge (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

It was a clear night, the moon was full and there were many stars visible in the sky.  So, before going to bed I went for a night hike around the Lodge.  After a good night’s sleep, we woke up early, grabbed a quick breakfast and coffee at the dining hall/cafeteria and hit the road heading west out of the valley.

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Tuesday sunrise on El Capitan - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Tuesday sunrise on El Capitan – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

We stopped at the Wawona Tunnel View picture point on the way out and got some great pics.

Sunrise on Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Sunrise on Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Wawona Tunnel - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Wawona Tunnel – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Wawona Tunnel - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Wawona Tunnel – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

The drive home was uneventful.  We stopped for lunch at a diner along the freeway and I had a great breakfast.  We hit some rain coming back into Los Angeles, but made good time and avoided the speed traps.

Driving the freeway home (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Driving the freeway home (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

It was a great weekend!  My stepbrother covered the cost of the tent cabin and lodge and I paid for the meals and gas.  We had a great time (except for the altitude sickness) and saw a lot in the short time we were there.  These are just a sampling of the pictures we took and the things we saw.  It was great to get back to Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley and I’ll probably write about my previous trips another time.  If you’ve made it all the way through please leave a comment or LIKE this if you liked it.

Thanks for reading my blog.  I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  I encourage everyone to visit Yosemite National Park, because the pictures can’t compare to the wonders of nature experienced first hand.

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Taking pictures with my Blackberry in Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 Aaron Barth)

Taking pictures with my Blackberry in Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

YOSEMITE 2011 – Part 2 Tuolumne Meadows

Yosemite Roadtrip 2011

This is PART 2!  To view PART 1: Roadtrip to Tuolumne Meadows – click this link:

https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/yosemite-2011-part-1-road-trip-to-tuolumne-meadows/

To view PART 3: Down in the Valley, Yosemite Valley – click this link:

https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/yosemite-2011-part-3-down-in-the-valley-yosemite-valley/

PART 2 – TUOLUMNE MEADOWS

Tuolumne River - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Tuolumne River – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

The hail passed, but the rain continued (off and on, from moderate to drizzle) and all that was left was the smell of wet wilderness and the cold of the afternoon.

Storm clouds over Tuolumne Meadows (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Storm clouds over Tuolumne Meadows (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Night #1 (Saturday): GOOD COOKING AT TUOLUMNE LODGE – It’s best to make your dinner reservation early, and you’ll probably still have to wait. If you’re a party of less than eight you’ll probably be seated with total strangers for dinner.  It’s part of the fun, and you get to meet other travelers over dinner.  We waited, but it wasn’t long before we were sat with a mother and her teenage daughter.  They were tent camping in the rain, hail and mud, and this dinner was also a way to find some shelter from the storm.  They told us it was better than sitting in their car.  I was very grateful we had the tent cabin.  The menu at the lodge is limited, usually meat/fish/vegetarian options with a few ala carte choices and the food is pricey, but it’s also tasty and considering where you are it’s first rate dining, so spend the money.

Just before dinner, I started to feel “not so good”, and during dinner it progressed to “sick”, ALTITUDE SICKNESS.  Traveling from almost sea level in Los Angeles to almost 10,000 feet can affect you in a very negative way.  I was sick and had to keep getting up during the night to go to the communal restroom, which was only a brief hike through the cold and rain.

The communal restroom and showers is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s concrete floor, flourescent lights, very basic in design and function, with divided facilities for men and women.  The Lodge staff keeps the area clean and provides towels for showering and shaving.  There are multiple toilets, shower stalls and sinks with mirrors.  It was cold, a little wet, kind of unpleasant, and being sick only made it more so.  The rough accommodations are offset by the extreme beauty of the natural environment, and for me the trade off is well worth it.  However, if you’re not ready to “rough it” a little, best to skip staying at the Tuolomne Lodge. 

THE WALK TO THE STORE AND HIKING TOULOUMNE MEADOWS.

The next day, we had better weather.  It was cold and cloudy, with a passing storm coming through mid-day. My stepbrother went for a long hike on the Mono Lake loop trail. While still recovering, I decided to take it easy and went for an easy hike to the Tuolumne Meadows store.  Here are pictures from that hike:

Tuolumne River - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Tuolumne River – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

The Tuolumne River flows nearly 150 miles from the central Sierra Nevada to the San Joaquin River in the Central Valley. The river flows from the Sierra Crest on the west slope, through the Sierra foothills to its mouth near Modesto.

Tuolumne Meadows - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Tuolumne Meadows – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Lembert Dome, Tuolumne Meadows - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Lembert Dome, Tuolumne Meadows – Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Lembert Dome is a granite dome rock formation that soars 800 feet above Tuolumne Meadows.  It was named for John Baptist Lembert who had a homestead in here in 1865. Climbers can scale the face from the parking lot just off the Tioga Road, but hikers can simply walk up the back side or take the challenging steeper trek up the face starting from just east of the parking lot.

Tuolumne Meadows - Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Tuolumne Meadows – Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Tuolumne Meadows is a gentle, dome-studded sub-alpine section in the eastern section of Yosemite. Its approximate elevation is 8619 feet.

Tuolomne River - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Tuolomne River – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Tuolomne Meadows - Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Tuolomne Meadows – Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Lembert Dome - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Lembert Dome – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Tuolomne Meadow - Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Tuolomne Meadow – Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

I saw some deer on my hike to the store, but they were too far away for good pictures.

Deer in the meadow - Tuolomne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Deer in the meadow – Tuolomne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

The walk takes you through the meadows, past the Tuolumne River and Lembert Dome to the store, which sells camping essentials, food and supplies.  Next door to the store is a restaurant/grill serving hamburgers, sandwiches and other simple fare.  I ordered a cheeseburger and had lunch at the picnic tables outside.  After lunch, I rode the shuttle bus back around the Tenaya Loop to Olmstead Point and then back to the Lodge.  During the ride, the sky opened up and a hard rain came down.

Cloudy skies at Olmstread Point - Toulumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Cloudy skies at Olmstead Point (backside of Half Dome) – Toulumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Tenaya Lake - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Tenaya Lake – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Tenaya Lake - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Tenaya Lake – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

When I got back to the Lodge, the storm had passed and I went hiking in the woods nearby.  I followed a family of deer (a doe and two fawns) for a little while and tried to take pictures but they were a little too far away to photograph.

Doe, a deer, a female deer - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Doe, a deer, a female deer – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Deer at Tuolumne Meadows - Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Deer in the woods – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

My stepbrother came back from his hike around the Mono Lake loop trail and he took some great pictures. Here’s one.  I’m going to post more of them in a future blog.

Trail to Mono Lake - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Aaron Barth)

Trail to Mono Lake – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Night #2: Sunday Dinner we were sat with three other couples (a brother and sister and their spouses from the midwest, and a two women: one from Northern California and one from Belgium).  After another delicious dinner, there was a communal fire outside at the lodge, and we hung around and socialized the with other travelers.

Starting the communal fire  at the Lodge - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Starting the communal fire at the Tuolumne Lodge – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Monday morning early, we packed up the car and hit the road, destination: Yosemite Valley.  First stop was Tenaya Lake and we got some great shots of the morning mist on the water.

Mist on Tenaya Lake, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Mist on Tenaya Lake, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Tenaya Lake is an alpine lake, located at an elevation of 8,150 feet.  The lake basin was formed by glacial action, which left a backdrop of light granite rocks.  It was named for Chief Tenaya, who met the Mariposa Brigade near the shores of the lake. Tenaya protested that the lake already had a name: Pie-we-ack, or “Lake of the Shining Rocks.”  This original name is now given to a granite dome east of the lake.

Blue Monday Mist on Tenaya Lake - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Blue Monday Mist on Tenaya Lake – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Tenaya Lake - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Aaron Barth)

Tenaya Lake – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Next stop was Olmstead Point, a very popular picture and sightseeing spot named for Frederick Law Olmstead, with beautiful views of Tenaya Lake, the backside of Half Dome, granite rock formations and more of the wonders of nature.  As you can tell, the weather was perfect!  It was clean, cool and crisp with blue skies and warm sun.

Tenaya Lake from Olmstead Point, Yosemite (copyright 201 Joshua Weisel)

Tenaya Lake from Olmstead Point, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Tenaya Lake - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Aaron Barth)

Tenaya Lake – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Granite dome near Olmstead Point - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Granite dome near Olmstead Point – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome from Olmstead Point - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Aaron Barth)

The backside of Half Dome from Olmstead Point – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

To view PART 3: DOWN IN YOSEMITE VALLEY! Yosemite Valley – click this link:

https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/yosemite-2011-part-3-down-in-the-valley-yosemite-valley/

Drive to the valley, Yosemite Lodge, hike to Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, Sentinel Beach, Monday Night Football in the Mountain Lounge, Night #3, dinner at the lodge, the drive home, and breakfast at the diner.

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