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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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.

———————————————————————————————-

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)