Swimming in the Merced
Favorite thing: This picture is of the Merced river, but I'm obviously not suggesting you swim here. The south fork of the river, where El Portal is located is an excellent swimming spot and not crowded. There are places to climb over, lay on and jump off the rocks or just relax. The water, like I've mentioned before is COLD. Very cold. And clothing is very optional...
Fondest memory: This was always fun, we did it whenever we were in the El Portal area:) There are other places to swim of course, another good choice being in Wawona where you can take large tubes or rafts and go down the tame rapids. More people will have bathing suits on here, too.Related to:
- National/State Park
Favorite thing: Yosemite is home to a variety of animals, out of which deer are the most commonly seen by visitors. They tend to hang out in meadows early in the morning and in the late afternoon or evening. I was able to see deer on all my visits to Yosemite. As for other wildlife, I didn't see any. My guess is you'll be more lucky if you find a quiet spot during early morning or early evening; you may catch a glimpse of wildlife in action.
Although you are adviced to lock every piece of food for fear of bears, I don't think bears are easy to find in Yosemite. They tend to avoid people, so you are not likely to see them in developed areas (I would still advice that you lock the food). Instead, you will probably be able to see lots of birds, especially in meadows, along the rivers, and in forests adjacent to meadows.Related to:
- National/State Park
Favorite thing: Yosemite's trails and services are well-maintained, at least in the heavily touristed sections of the park. Signs are well-posted and shelters are sporadically laid out to give shelter, but keep in mind that this is a wilderness area and it's best to play it safe and come prepared for nature's surprises.
Nature is powerful
Favorite thing: "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you . . . while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." - John Muir.
Yosemite's natural sights can be exhilirating and awe-inspiring. This photos shows the part of the Mist Trail that edges past Vernal Falls. If you're here in the spring or early summer, prepared to get soaked!!
When to visit
Favorite thing: Yosemite is so gorgeous it really does not matter when you visit, however if you want to avoid the toursits, then try late September or early October. The weather is still good, but there are very few tourists. The valley is very pretty in Autumn. Winter is beautiful, however it can be bone chilling cold. The Spring is when the falls are at their best, however the tourists will be out in full force. Summer can be hot, and the falls will be drying up. I've never had a bad experience in Yosemite, it really is always lovely.
Fondest memory: Great website and including a month by month Yosemite info and planning calendar.
- Family Travel
- Adventure Travel
all to myself
Fondest memory: The next morning was like a dream. Instead of looking for clear weather, I marched towards it with faith, crossing a small group of deer on my way out of camp. It was a bit unnerving walking down the trail alone at dawn but I made noise to keep any bears at bay and made no haste in my steps. I climbed effortlessly, singing “Loch Lomond” silently in my head, and stamping the ground with my hiking pole for emphasis.
I soon had someone at my rear but would have no part in anyone passing me. I arrived at the cables to find them empty, grabbed the gloves I had hidden the day before, and latched onto the cables like it was something I had done a hundred times before. It was easy knowing I had just done it the day before but I did not let my concentration slip. The best part was there was no one was in front of me and those at my rear were still sorting out their gloves. I had them to myself. About three quarters of the way up, I spotted two figures coming my way from the top. As they grew closer, their huge grins told it all. They had started just after midnight and had been on top for sunrise. It was only 7 AM and they were heading back to the valley to celebrate. They were still wearing their head lamps. That's what I call prepared. They said I would have it all to myself now so I quickened my pace and soon was on top all on my own. It was definitely clearer than the day before so I quickly snapped some photos and by the time I was done, the guys behind me had arrived. It was a father and son team and they asked me to take their photo. I did and told them I was on my way. They couldn't believe that I would leave so quickly. I told them about my wife being back in the tent and that I had just been on top the day before. It may have been an easier climb and the views were surely better but without her by my side, it was an empty celebration. The only person I wanted to share this with was still sleeping in our tent. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
A great change of pace
Favorite thing: On this trip, I flew into San Francisco and spent a couple days in Yosemite. Normally, I am more comfortable in a city environment, but on this trip, the true highlight was Yosemite. It was great to be there during the week when the crowds were minimal and we could truly enjoy the natural surroundings.
However, if you're here in a more peak season, I would still encourage you to come. The park is huge and escaping the crowds that flock to the Valley floor is never too difficult.
"Nearly all the park is a profound solitude." - John Muir
Favorite thing: Yosemite is not all towering rock formations and thundering waterfalls. There are also fields of green, lakes of blue and, of course, those towering redwoods. There are actually all sorts of trees native to this part of California, many of which John Muir wrote about extensively.
We visited the Giant Sequoias of the Mariposa Grove pictured here.
This place can be spiritual . . .
Favorite thing: "Leisure is a form of silence, not noiselessness. It is the silence of contemplation such as occurs when we let our minds rest on a rosebud, a child at play, a Divine mystery, or a waterfall." - Fulton J. Sheen
Another great contributor to the creation of Yosemite was Galen Clark, also known as the first "Guardian of Yosemite." He almost died due to lung hemorraging at the age of 42 and came to the park for the health benefit of the fresh mountain air. He died just short of his 96th birthday in 1910. In 1864, Clark worked hard for the enactment of the Yosemite Grant which created the world's first state park.
Favorite thing: Mariposa contains the larest Sequoia grove in Yosemite. There is a tram tour through the area which provides information on the giant trees. Along this road you'll also find the Mariposa Grove museum, which contains exhibits and information. Several trails also circle around the area.
During crowded summer days, the road may be closed to cars. There is a small parking area near the south entrance, which is usually full. If you don't feel like walking the two miles along the road, there is a shuttle bus from nearby Wawona which will take you into Mariposa Grove.
Many wonderful rainbows
Favorite thing: At different times of day the light plays with the spray from different waterfalls to create some of the most vibrant rainbow.
This picture is taken of Vernal Falls during late morning in August from the Mist Trail.
I'm told that under full moon conditions it is possible, with the right equipment, obtain moonlit rainbows - if you know of a picture online, please email me as I'd like to see one.
The Steller's Jay
Favorite thing: We saw the Steller's Jay all throughout Yosemite, their bright blue feathers standing out against the deep green forest canopy.
I thought they were beautiful and wanted to learn more about them...
This bird has spread to great distances and has the widest range of any North American jay-- from Alaska through the Rocky mountains and to the mountains of Central America and Nicaragua.
Steller's Jay settle in habitats ranging from 3,000 to 10,000 feet, moving to lower elevations during cold months. It survives on small vertebrates, arthropods, seeds, berries, nuts and loves acorns and pinenuts when available.
They often take eggs or small birds from the nest and have been seen attacking adult birds. These jays can be seen around campgrounds and picnic areas, although timid around humans.
*To learn more, see: www.birds.cornell.edu/bow/stejayRelated to:
- National/State Park
Favorite thing: Continuing along Tioga Road, you'll come across the one of the largest lakes in the Sierra Nevada. Tenaya Lake was created by nearby glaciers. It is flanked by a narrow strip of white sand beach. In the background facing south, there's a view of the rear side of Half Dome.
Tenaya Lake is an unusual feature in Yosemite where the much smaller valley lakes generally fill up with sediment and become marshy areas of meadows. The combination of sediment to fill the lake and the dry conditions of the lower elevated valley do not exist at this elevation. Instead, snowmelt in the spring allows the lake to maintain its size and water level.
Favorite thing: Happy Isles is located on the eastern end of the park. There's a nature center and several outdoor exhibits which explain the formation of Yosemite. From Happy Isles, you can walk along the Merced River or hike to 6,000 plus foot Vernal Falls.
The Happy Isles Nature Center is a nice pit stop. Several paths wind around the Merced River and there are exhibits explaining in greater detail about Yosemite.
The Western Gray Squirrel
Favorite thing: The woods were full of these tree loving creatures, the Western Gray Squirrel. Note it's full bushy tail. I snapped a photo of this little guy near Lower Yosemite Falls.
This is the only large gray tree squirrel on the West Coast. It grows to about 9-12 inches tall, 17-23 inches in length and weighing around 12-34 ounces.
They nibble on pinecones, acorns and other nuts, insects, berries and some fungi.
It likes to change its nests seasonally, so in the winter it may find a hole in the tree to shelter from the cold, while in the summer it creates a home of shredded bark and sticks.
When its the time of year to find a mate, they become very animated, chasing each other around and perhaps fighting a little...hmm....perhaps this sounds a little familiar, hee,hee.
*To learn more, see:www.enature.com
Yosemite National Park Hotels
I have often visited the Awahnee Hotel Dining room. The food is always excellent and is on par in...more
Just to clarify, at least several reviews have included erroneous information about who "runs" the...more
Yosemite Lodge is probably where most package tourists staying in the valley will stay. Rooms are...more
Latest Yosemite National Park Hotel Reviews
- Yosemite Lodge At The Falls
- Very Good (3.5 out of 5.0) 3 Reviews
- Wawona Hotel
- Very Good (3.5 out of 5.0) 14 Reviews
- Housekeeping Camp
- Best (5.0 out of 5.0) 4 Reviews
- Curry Village
- Very Good (3.5 out of 5.0) 24 Reviews
- The Ahwahnee
- Excellent (4.5 out of 5.0) 15 Reviews
- E. C. Yosemite Motel
- Very Good (3.5 out of 5.0) 4 Reviews
- Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort
- Great (4.0 out of 5.0) 8 Reviews
- North Pines Campground
- Great (4.0 out of 5.0) 3 Reviews
- Save up to 60% on hotels.
- Hotwire.com Hotwire: Get a 4-star hotel for a 2-star price.
- Save up to 50% off Hotels Everyday
- Expedia.com Photos, Reviews and the Guaranteed Lowest Prices
Explore the World
- Cairns Hotels
- Germany Hotels
- Matola Hotels
- Dau Hotels
- Fort Walton Beach
- Lake Memphremagog Hotels
- Ko Samet
- Annisquam Hotels
- Fiji Hotels
- Knights Ferry Hotels
- Monterosso al Mare