Written by MilwVon on 22 Aug, 2007
One of the most frequent visited areas of Yosemite National Park is the Mariposa Grove which features around 500 mature sequoias . . . one of the primary reasons for our trip to Yosemite! Located in the far southwestern corner of the park, expect the…Read More
One of the most frequent visited areas of Yosemite National Park is the Mariposa Grove which features around 500 mature sequoias . . . one of the primary reasons for our trip to Yosemite! Located in the far southwestern corner of the park, expect the drive from the valley area to take nearly an hour. You can also take the park shuttle service which will eliminate the hassle of finding parking in the very limited area at the entrance to Mariposa Grove. When we arrived to the area around 1pm, the upper parking lot was full and the two mile road to the top closed. We parked at the south entrance to the park, and took the shuttle. For those in good to outstanding physical condition, you may probably want to hike the six plus mile hike (one-way) from the Wawona area.At the shuttle stop inside the grove, there is a small gift shop that also offered limited snacks and beverages. There was also a limited information center. Beyond this building, perhaps 50 yards away, it's the ticket center for the “Tall Trees Tour” offered by park concessionaire Delaware North Companies. This tram ride provides visitors with a narrated tour over the two and one-half mile route through both the lower and upper groves, providing outstanding opportunities to see and learn about the sequoia found in Yosemite. The tour lasts about 75 minutes and includes two stops . . . one at the museum and another at “The Grizzly Giant” the fifth largest documented tree in the world.Along the path, whether you walk it or take the tram tour, you will see many landmark trees known for their unique features or place in Yosemite history. Many of the trees found in this area are thought to be as much as 2,500 years old. It is really remarkable as you look at the various trees both standing and previously fallen to the forest floor. Perhaps the most famous of all the fallen trees is the Fallen Monarch which was photographed in 1899 with US Cavalry soldiers lined up behind the huge tree trunk. Another of great interest is the Wawona Tunnel Tree which fell in 1969 due to the extreme weight of snow in the tree top. The tunnel had been created for stagecoaches back in 1881. Today the only “tunnel tree” in this area of the park remaining is the California Tunnel Tree which was used from 1859 until 1932. The road was redirected in 1932 and today the tunnel is exclusively used by visitors on foot.We did take the “Big Trees Tour” which cost $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and $11 for children ages five and older. We really enjoyed having the narration from an experienced tour guide for the Yosemite Tour Company – one of the large motor coach tour operators in the park. He was informative and very engaging, adding to our experience touring the Mariposa Grove and giant sequoias.Near the end of our tram tour, we did see the only wildlife of our entire day in Yosemite . . . a small group of mule deer. Unfortunately, the lighting was not ideal for photos so my pictures didn’t turn out very good. Close
Having been to Yosemite National Park once before, from the Nevada side of the Sierra, I have long wanted to be able to spend a bit more time seeing the remarkable landscape and beauty offered by this gem of the US National Park system. A…Read More
Having been to Yosemite National Park once before, from the Nevada side of the Sierra, I have long wanted to be able to spend a bit more time seeing the remarkable landscape and beauty offered by this gem of the US National Park system. A weekend trip to Northern California afforded us with the opportunity to plan for a full day in the park.We arrived at around 8:45am, prepared for the opportunity to take in as much as possible before nightfall. Since our trip was in mid August, we knew that many of the most known areas of the park would provide minimal viewing since the streams and waterfalls would be at their lowest levels. With that being said, we did drive into the park, stopping at many of the scenic vista viewing areas for the mandatory photo ops. The mountains and sheer cliff formations create incredible viewing and spectacular photos. In one area of the park, there was a climbing club scaling the straight, vertical granite rock.The best place to start or base your visit is at the Valley Visitors Center. There you can park your car at that neighboring day use lot and take the park shuttle bus system to all of the best known hiking and picnic areas. At the Valley Visitors Center, there is a bookstore and a theatre. Be sure to allow yourself the 30 minutes to take in the new film “Spirit of Yosemite” which tells of John Muir’s founding of the sequoia forest and subsequent protection by US soldiers.While in the valley area you can also take the two-hour 26 mile tour via the tractor pulled open air passenger cars. The “Valley Floor Tour” includes a park ranger narration adding to the education and experience. Prices are $22 for adults, $18 for seniors and $11.50 for children ages five and up. The tour starts and ends at the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls throughout the day.During our visit, we anticipated that the park would be crowded with visitors. We were pleasantly surprises, however, that we were able to navigate and drive throughout the park with relatively little in the way of traffic congestion. Because of the high altitude and my asthma, we were limited on many of the activities that folks come to Yosemite to enjoy. We did enjoy driving and seeing as much as we could from the roads and scenic viewing turnouts. El Capitan is probably the most known landmark that is visible in the park without hiking or venturing too far from the parking areas.There is no shortage of things to see and do while in Yosemite. When you arrive, be sure to take time to read through the park publication “Yosemite: Your Complete Guide to the Park” which is nearly 100 pages of information on activities, dining, lodging, and maps. You will also want to read “Yosemite Today” which is a newspaper type publication that gives you daily schedules of all park activities offered by the US Park Service and authorized vendors. Both are given to you when you arrive and pay your park admission fee ($20 per car – good for seven days).If you are planning a full day in the park, we’d suggest you plan on packing a lunch or snack items, especially in the summer. There are limited restaurant facilities and from what we could see, they were all very crowded and had lengthy waits. We stopped at one of the general stores for snacks and bottled water which got us through the day without needing to eat lunch. Close
Written by jmineo on 27 Feb, 2001
We were up the next morning by 8 am for our momentous hike up Halfdome. After a hearty breakfast of ham and eggs we locked our camping gear in the trunk and drove to the base as close as we could get. From the…Read More
We were up the next morning by 8 am for our momentous hike up Halfdome. After a hearty breakfast of ham and eggs we locked our camping gear in the trunk and drove to the base as close as we could get. From the base, the trail goes along a stream which widens and moves less quickly. It's a flat walk and more peaceful and relaxing than any other piece of the trail. It's mostly in the shade and the air is filled with the typical pine forest smell which also happens to be one of my favorite outdoor smells. But just as other good things end, the flat nice piece of trail eventually leaves the stream behind and starts going uphill towards the ultimate goal. I was hoping but not expecting that the my wife would want to attempt to go to the very top of Halfdome despite the fact that we were planning to leave that night. So, I was happy that she felt so good and was ready to complete the adventure by mastering the mother of all domes. And steeper and steeper it got.
After not too much time we left the tree line behind and were out in the open with the peak towering above us. Your legs get a fairly good workout, and I knew we'd be paying for it the next day. We first had to climb half a mile of a strong incline into which steps have been carved. Step by step we got closer to the top. Once on top of the stair part, the view is terrific. Only one more piece left, the final half mile to the top which is along ropes and also the steepest part of the whole trail. To me that is a terrific view too, to others it might not be terrif-ic but terrif-ying. We were raring to continue though, just 15 more minutes and we would get rewarded for our efforts.
I was blazing the trail. My wife took a slower pace and I stopped often to let her keep pace. I kept asking her if she wanted to stop and head back down, but of course she wanted to see the views from the top. So in only minutes we were on top of Halfdome; it felt like being on top of the world. A good satisfactory feeling flowed throughout your body warming you from the inside out. We were out of breath for two reasons, the rapid climb but equally because the beauty around us was breathtaking.
All sorts a positive feelings came up inside me. A wild mix of emotions. They included also proudness since I was proud that my wife made it to the top. With only two other people on the top, we had the fantastic scenery all to ourselves. The sun dipped everything into full colors, the sierras in the background were snow covered and the view reached tens and tens of miles. A good spot to take a deep breath and give a heart-felt "aahhh". Also a nice spot for a little snack and more pictures. Laying down at the edge you can look down a vertical wall which falls for hundreds of yards into Yosemite Valley. The reward for the five hour journey (including all breaks) was an emotional high, appreciation of a thrilling scenery, and memories that we'll hopefully cherish for some time to come. Plenty of ROI (return on investment) if you ask me.
Our camping experience included everything from making a camp fire, making a perfect charcoal fire in the grill, preparing a dinner meal, no let me correct that, it wasn't a meal, a feast would be a better description. It turned out to be six courses…Read More
Our camping experience included everything from making a camp fire, making a perfect charcoal fire in the grill, preparing a dinner meal, no let me correct that, it wasn't a meal, a feast would be a better description. It turned out to be six courses of wonderful tastes, a celebration for our taste buds, a gourmet's delight. Amazing how much of a difference my wife made on this trip - almost turned out to be a gastronomic experience shadowing the grandeur of Yosemite itself. It is that special woman's touch they add. The whole banquette lasted from 7pm till 11pm. Some of the many highlights were grilled fish paste patties, ribs, potatoes that we perfectly browned in the fire, tofu-like bean-based squares grilled with veggies, soup, fruit, wine, and at the very end, according to tradition, marshmallows.
We were pretty stuffed as you can imagine but we needed all that food to have energy to burn off to keep us warm. The temperatures dropped quite a bit from the day time highs and the later it got, the closer we moved to the camp fire which gave off plenty of heat. After finishing off all that food we got some other hungry visitors. Two raccoons stopped by to help themselves to some eggs and while doing so ripped the trash bag spreading the contents. This was a sneaky and surprising attack. Before I knew what was going on they had devoured four eggs and being used to humans simple noises like "gschh gschh" wouldn't scare them away, they wouldn't even move or blink with their eyes. One had to get as close as a yard before they considered moving. We found out that these raccoons supposedly also enjoyed the dog food of our camp site neighbors.
Before hitting the sack we toasted our toes and feet at the camp fire. Once midnight came around it was time to go to bed and simply slipped into our sleeping bags. Close
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes words are worth many pictures. For those of you never having experienced the grandeur of Yosemite, close your eyes and imagine the sunshine. It is strong for the day after our first wakeup.…Read More
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes words are worth many pictures. For those of you never having experienced the grandeur of Yosemite, close your eyes and imagine the sunshine. It is strong for the day after our first wakeup. It feels warm on your skin and in your face. The rock surfaces around us were all warmed up to make it comfortable to sit or lay down to stretch your muscles. Laying on the rock looking straight up into the sky, you'll see that unique light blue color of the sky with a few fast moving soft clouds travelling by. While staring into the sky and your imagination starts seeing things in the clouds, you'll be surrounded by the sound of the fast moving water and the waterfall. If you lower your eyes, you'll see a scary looking, steep Halfdome in the north. Then you'll let your eyes glide westwards and from a sun-reflecting polished looking giant of a rock, you'll see the scenery change to a deep green forest covered chain of hills and if you turn your head even further westward you look down into the canyon that was carved by the water falling down the Nevada Falls. The dark green changes to a green that is lightened up by some yellow spots and some fresh green colors from leave trees. The picture of the valley is framed by the blue sky on the top, and the water falling in front of you on the bottom. The foreground is of course also framed by the smooth rocks forming the bed of the stream. But there doesn't seem to be a frame to the left or right in this picture. It is like a panorama view and it softly fades out an either side. Those not afraid of heights can crawl to the edge and look straight down the fall. But that's a different picture all together. Your imagination should be big enough to put this photo together without my help, just think of fearsome heights and spraying water.
Written by Josh S on 05 Jan, 2005
Rather than join the weekly winter parade up I-80 from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, and knowing the weather was likely to be unseasonably warm, making for less than stellar skiing conditions, my girlfriend and I headed to Yosemite to experience the joys of the…Read More
Rather than join the weekly winter parade up I-80 from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, and knowing the weather was likely to be unseasonably warm, making for less than stellar skiing conditions, my girlfriend and I headed to Yosemite to experience the joys of the park, sans summertime crowds.
Fearful of even the barest hint of mass-market tourism that popular parks like Yosemite can attract and the subsequent feelings of a malaise you can't quite put your finger on (likely brought about by the realization that your "unique" experience isn't so unique after all), we chose to avoid the standard in-park accommodations and instead opted for the charming Bass Lake Lodge.
Only 13 miles from the southern entrance to the park, near Oakhurst, the lodge is a welcome escape from just about anything. Owners Janet and Ed Hardy have appointed the lodge with every creature comfort, while incorporating their environmental ethic into its construction. With carpeting made from recycled materials and timber salvaged from white fir and sugar pine saved from beetle infestation, the Hardys have managed to achieve that unique balance that eludes so many high-end resorts: a beautiful, natural (yet luxurious) lodge in a beautiful, natural setting. Movie buffs may recognize Bass Lake from scenes from the John Candy classic, The Great Outdoors.
Well-rested from the first class accommodations (and, Sylvia and I agreed, the most comfortable bed we had ever slept in), we set off on the first day for a snowshoe hike to Dewey Point, overlooking Yosemite Valley directly across from El Capitan. The easy 7-mile roundtrip track began at Badger Pass ski area, wound up and down through scenic pine forests, and ended abruptly on a rocky precipice overlooking the valley. Despite the haziness, the view was majestic and gave us a hint at the vastness of the park, with the high peaks to the east visible in the distance. As an added bonus, we saw less than ten other people the entire day once we left the groomed nordic ski track from Badger Pass to Glacier Point.
The next day brought less agreeable (though more typical) weather, so we elected to stay on the valley floor. We made the easy loop around Mirror Lake in the shadow of the Half Dome, with its sheer 4,000-foot granite face looming directly above. With the sun fighting to break through the mist and clouds, we were treated to tantalizing views of the namesake rock faces that make the park famous. The trail was a bit muddy, but very little snow remained on the valley floor following a few weeks of warm weather.
On our last day, we elected to attempt one of the signature hikes in the park: the trail to the top of Yosemite Falls. Due to the unseasonably warm weather (T-shirts in February!), we didn't even need our snowshoes. The trail ascended steeply through picturesque forests of oak and then pine, and we paused often to take in the ever-improving views of the valley below. Just below, the hub of park civilization swarmed with weekend visitors (though quite empty compared to the summer), yet on the trail, we soon left the casual family day-trippers behind. After about 2 miles, we reached the base of the upper falls, falling over 1,000 feet from the rim. At the bottom, a huge snow cone of frozen spray had formed, lending a fascinating twist to the typical waterfall experience. From there, it was a steep 1.5-mile hike up countless switchbacks to the top, where snow lingered in relatively deep patches, despite the unseasonably warm weather. Three thousand feet above the valley floor, we were treated to a spectacular view as the falls plunged over the precipice into thin air.
A few hours later, we returned to our car as the sun set and the moon rose over Half Dome. Of course, the summer is the high season, but it's the quieter times when the park really shines.
Bass Lake Lodge is an ideal spot from which to launch your weekend (or week-long) getaway. You can find more info on their website at www.basslakelodge.com. Information on Yosemite activities and trails, as well as park maps, can be found on the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm.
Written by Ischyros on 22 Nov, 2004
Yosemite has so many different moods. When you visit will usually be determined by what you want to see. So many people venture to Yosemite in August or September and are disappointed to not see the spectacular waterfalls. Whenever you go, you will have to…Read More
Yosemite has so many different moods. When you visit will usually be determined by what you want to see. So many people venture to Yosemite in August or September and are disappointed to not see the spectacular waterfalls. Whenever you go, you will have to make some sacrifices. You just need to decide what you most want to see or experience and go then. Or just go twice!
Winter brings with it snow. Yes it's California, but it's also the mountains. Yosemite Valley lies at 4,000 feet and does receive quite a bit of snow. The surrounding communities, Oakhurst, El Portal, and Mariposa, rarely see that snow though as they are around 2,000-2,500 feet. Glacier Point and the high country are closed, but crowds are thin, except around holidays. The valley is gorgeous under a fresh blanket of snow. The spray from Yosemite Falls makes a thick coat of ice on the cliff around it at night. During the day, you can see and hear chucks of ice over 100 feet tall break off and crash their way to the base of the falls in a thunderous roar that echoes through the whole valley. Snowstorms are common and unpredictable. Always carry chains with you as they could be required at any time.
Spring brings new life. By April and May, waterfalls are at their peak, gushing with water. Wild flowers bloom in June. The Mariposa Grove often opens sometime in March or April with Glacier Point and the high country usually opening by the end of May or early June. Crowds start to pick up by late May.
Summer can be hot and dry. Crowds are at their worst, and lodging prices are steep. Waterfalls start to dry up by August. I usually tell people to avoid this season if at all possible.
Autumn is gorgeous as well. Temperatures cool down but are still pleasant. Crowds diminish greatly. The high country and Glacier Point are still open. November starts the rainy season. The only bad thing about Autumn is the waterfalls are down to a trickle or non-existant.
Written by marcmuff on 07 Sep, 2003
This is a beautiful mountain lake community (3,500 ft. elev.) located on Bass Lake, which is near Oakhurst, California. (Oakhurst is about 40 miles east of Fresno on Highway 41.) Camping is popular in four area campgrounds (total of 239 camping units) in the Sierra…Read More
This is a beautiful mountain lake community (3,500 ft. elev.) located on Bass Lake, which is near Oakhurst, California. (Oakhurst is about 40 miles east of Fresno on Highway 41.) Camping is popular in four area campgrounds (total of 239 camping units) in the Sierra National Forest, and there are 43 sites with picnic tables and fireplaces for day users (Call 1-800-280-CAMP). Bass Lake has cabin and home rentals, motels, hotels, and resorts. There is a spectacular fireworks disply on the 4th of July, which attracts thousands.
Bass Lake is a 4-mile-long lake on the north fork of Willow Creek, which is a tributary of the San Joaquin River. Its waters turn powerful, electricity-producing turbine engines for Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). The water level in the lake was down about 30% when I visited.
The reservoir is drawn down by PG&E at various times of the year, but there is always plenty of water for water activities. You can rent any equipment you need (including jet skis, wave runners, fishing boats, canoes, kayaks, mountain bikes, paddle boats, houseboats, and speed boats) from the Bass Lake Water Sports & Marina located at Ducey's at The Pines Village. They also have boat launch facilities, overnight rental slips, seasonal slips, and boat drivers and lessons. (Contact www.BassLakeBoatRentals.com or 1-800-585-9283.) You may also enjoy a narrated 1-hour cruise on Bass Lake on a 50-seat tour boat, the Bass Lake Queen. Prices are: adults $12, seniors $6, children (4-16) $4. The cruises are available daily, Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend, and Saturdays, only in April, May, September, and October.
The Pines Resort and Conference Center is a 50-acre resort located on the north shore of the lake and is across from the Bass Lake Post Office. (Contact www.basslake.com or 1-800-350-7463.) The Resort features 84 condo-like chalets with kitchens and fireplaces, 20 luxury suits at Ducey's On The Lake, 12 suites with in-room spa tubs, and 2 honeymoon suites. Ducey's has a fine dining restaurant with reasonable prices and a bar and grill, both overlooking the lake. There is also a full service market, gift shops, and a pizza place in the resort. There is an internet station in the lobby for public use (10 minutes for $1, 20 minutes for $2, etc.) It accepts bills. I put $2 in before I realized there was no external mouse, but I was able to get into my mail and one other site before the 20 minutes were up. It was very slow-going - definitely not high-speed internet.
Bass Lake's natural beauty has been used in major motion pictures and television commercials since the early 1930's. Some examples are: "Leave Her to Heaven" (1945); "Hiawatha" (1957); and "The Great Outdoors" (1987). Auto commercials have been produced in and around Bass Lake for Cadillac, Honda, Chrysler, and Isuzu; a Wells Fargo Bank Commercial was filmed just above Bass Lake, and Mark Harmon made two Coors commercials at Bass Lake. One in the popular series of Bud Light "I Love Ya Man" beer commercials was also shot at the lake.
Written by gonewriting on 23 Feb, 2001
The major routes to Yosemite remain open throughout Winter and Yosemite Valley roads are always plowed. You can take Highway 41 North out of Fresno for 45 miles, Highway 140 East out of Merced for 27 miles, or Highway 120 East out of Manteca for…Read More
The major routes to Yosemite remain open throughout Winter and Yosemite Valley roads are always plowed. You can take Highway 41 North out of Fresno for 45 miles, Highway 140 East out of Merced for 27 miles, or Highway 120 East out of Manteca for 20 miles to get to Yosemite. Bring chains for your tires, or buy them along the way at a service station as they are likely to be required.
Skiing (cross-country and downhill) is popular at Badger Pass and Crane Flat. (Call 209-372-8444). Badger Pass offers cross-country ski classes, individual instruction, and guided tours. For a free shuttle bus to Badger Pass, go to a lodging facility in Yosemite Valley or call 209-372-1446.
Snowshoeing can be done wherever there is enough snow to walk on. Rangers lead walks from Badger Pass. 209-372-0299.
Ice-skating can be done at Curry Village in Yosemite Valley which offers rental skates, lockers, and snack stand. Call 209-372-8341.
If you enjoy sledding, inner-tubing or tobogganing go to Crane Flat Campground on Highway 120 near Tioga Road.
Four campgrounds are open in Winter: Lower Pines ($15) is the designated winter campground. It has 172 sites for tents or RVs. Pets allowed in winter. Reservations required (1-800-436-7275). Sunnyside Walk-in ($3) is for climbers and backpackers since you must carry your food and equipment to these sites. No pets. First come, first served. In the southern part of the park, Wawona Campground ($10) offers 100 sites. In the northern part of the park, Hodgdon Meadow Campground ($12) offers 105 sites for any type of camper on a first-come, first-served basis. Pets allowed.
Written by Adventures With Adam on 15 Jul, 2004
As developed as Yosemite Valley may seem with its hotels, stores, restaurants, and museums, you are in the wild here and are likely to see wildlife. Bear warnings abound, especially in the campgrounds, where bears are known to frequent the dumpsters. I heard…Read More
As developed as Yosemite Valley may seem with its hotels, stores, restaurants, and museums, you are in the wild here and are likely to see wildlife. Bear warnings abound, especially in the campgrounds, where bears are known to frequent the dumpsters. I heard loud noises in the campground in the middle of the night when I had to use the bathroom. However, I saw no sign of bear anywhere. You probably would have more luck spotting one in the backcountry, which is probably the only place in the park you might encounter a mountain lion, the park's other large mammal predator. Check with a ranger for safety information about encounters with these animals.
You will very probably spy mule deer--so-called for their large ears--especially in the meadows of the valley. I've also had them tramp through my campsite and cross in front of my car on Tioga Road. Coyotes are also somewhat common. Though I didn't see one, some other visitors I spoke with spotted a coyote in the meadows along the Merced River. I did have an elusive fox scamper in front of me on the John Muir Trail. Squirrels and chipmunks abound in the park. Don't confuse the two: a ground squirrel's body may be striped like a chipmunk's, but it lacks the facial markings. Despite their cute appearance, the Park Service highly discourages feeding these critters; their bites and scratches can be quite painful. Still, you'll see many tourists luring them with food to get a close-up video. At night, you can spot bats fluttering around lighted areas as they swoop down on insects.
Bird life is rich and varied here. A visitor favorite is the Stellar's jay, commonly seen around the Visitor Center and campgrounds. You'll recognize it by it's blue body, black crest and distinctive cry. Ravens seem to show up at the campgrounds just in time for breakfast every morning. On the top of the valley rim near Yosemite point, I saw a number of hawks, circling, soaring and swooping. Scores of other avian species inhabit the park from wading blue herons to woodpeckers to owls. A stop at the Visitor Center or a ranger talk will better acquaint you with Yosemite's wildlife.