The Indian Village near the Valley Visitor Center is a somewhat interesting outdoor museum, with rebuilt Ahwahneechee structures including a chief's house and a ceremonial roundhouse. A self-guided walking tour leads through the village. Along the way, signs explain how the Ahwahneechee used native plants (such as acorns) for food. It also tells one of the two stories I've heard about how Yosemite got its name; according to the information there, Yosemite got its name from the foothill Miwok who called the natives of the valley "Yohemite," or "some of them are killers." Another claim is that Yosemite comes from the Miwok word "uzumati," or "grizzly bear" (which were sadly hunted to extinction in the Sierra Nevada.) It doesn't quite compare with Yosemite's natural masterpieces, but the Indian Village is an interesting way to spend half an hour.
By enlargening this photo, you'll probably be able to see the waterfall more clearly. Staircase Falls makes a drop of a few hundred feet, and the flow of the water is small; but still, it is quite impressive, for a much different reason. Instead of flowing down along the ledges like you might suppose water should do, at Staircase Falls, water flows halfway down a slanted ledge, then hops down to the next to do the same thing. The waterfall will eventually dry out by mid-summer, though. It is most visible from the Curry Village area.
This was probably the most interesting hike we did in Yosemite Valley, and probably not for the reasons you would think. We set out from the trailhead at Tunnel View and began to head up the Pohono Trail towards Inspiration Point; after about only 2 minutes of hiking, I found a small barrier in the middle of the trail. I went around it and continued for another minute before the trail suddenly disappeared. We looked around for a while before finally seeing a cairn; we followed it uphill. The trail became tangled up in bushes and shrubs, but we kept following the cairns. Soon there was only a faint trace of trail; we were basically bushwhacking, and although we'd been going for almost a half hour, we could still see the Tunnel View parking area. I wasn't too sure if we accidentally left the trail somewhere or not; but we decided to give up and head back down. It took us another half hour to get back; at one point, we lost the cairns and started going in the wrong direction. Eventually, we got back down to the point where the trail had disappeared. We walked back a little to the rock barrier, I looked up, and saw...
Well, as it turns out, the Pohono Trail actually switchbacks uphill there and heads to Inspiration Point, and the barrier was actually to keep anyone from hiking in that direction; although we thought about it for a while, we decided not to hike up, since it was getting late. We got back in the car and drove back to Curry Village, and then we found that we had left our hiking poles at Tunnel View. We drove back (20 minutes) and found they were gone. Just in case... if anyone happened to find three hiking poles at Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park around 5:30 PM on June 20, 2006, it'd be nice to know about that...
Yosemite was, and is, a wonderful place for me to take my daughter (not to mention taking myself and my wife ;O)), got to show her some wild places and also a few things up close and personal. It is great letting your imagination try to decipher what you can see in a closeup of pine bark, it looks like a moon setting perhaps. IOr just looking up and wondering how in the world did that tree EVER manage to grow and survive in the middle of a sheer granite wall...or even just to take your time and enjoy the view away from the crowds, and yes to your question, it IS POSSIBLE to find a quiet corner in Yosemite, even in the height of the tourist season.
Past Clark Point, the John Muir Trail ascends gently and is sometimes level as it heads toward the top of Nevada Fall. At first, the trail is well-shaded; but nearing the fall, the trail opens up. One very scenic stretch of the trail is built onto a cliff, overlooking Nevada Falls nearby. Water often splashes down on this part of the trail, and it is closed in winter. There's a view of Half Dome, LIberty Cap, and the waterfall, as well as Yosemite Valley in the distance. One mile from Clark Point, you'll reach the junction with the Panorama Trail; from there, you can head up to Glacier Point. Keep walking, though, and you'll soon reach the top of Nevada Fall, 3.5 miles from the trailhead.
Sentinel Bridge is one of the best places to view a Yosemite sunset. This bridge has been rebuilt many times since the beginning of tourism in Yosemite. Earlier bridges constricted the river and damaged habitats downstream; the current Sentinel Bridge was built in 1993. From the bridge, there is a wonderful view of Half Dome (Tissiack) rising above the Merced River. At summer solstice, the sun sets in Yosemite at 8:30; be sure to catch a beautiful sunset there. You probably won't be alone; on most nights, you'll be accompanied by plenty of other tourists and photographers. Looking north from the bridge, you'll see a perfect view of Yosemite Falls and Cook Meadow.
While you're at Tunnel View, most of the tourists will be gawking at the view of the valley below. But if you're visiting in spring or early summer and want to see a rarely noticed waterfall, turn right and look up into the cliffs. Silver Strand Falls drops 1170 feet down the walls of the Valley. Since its drainage is small, the fall dries up early in the year. The falls is also known as Widows Tears. You'll have to enlargen my photo to see the waterfall.
From the junction with the Glacier Point Road, Wawona Road (Hwy 41) begins its descent into Yosemite Valley. At first, the road allows views of the foothills and Turtleback Dome; eventually, it comes around a ridge and a large view of some Yosemite landmarks appear. From a long viewpoint on the north side of the road, you can see El Capitan, Half Dome, and Sentinel Dome. Past the viewpoint, the road continues descending, eventually entering the long Wawona Tunnel.
The Pohono Trail starts from Glacier Point and stretches 13.6 miles down to Tunnel View in Yosemite Valley, descending 2800 feet along the way. If that sounds long to you, there is a good, shorter alternative that allows you to make a loop with two fantastic viewpoints. From the Sentinel Dome/Taft Point Trailhead, you can hike down to Taft Point, then take the Pohono Trail 2.7 miles up to Sentinel Dome, then follow the Sentinel Dome Trail back to the trailhead for a loop hike of 5.1 miles. While it is somewhat longer than hiking the two trails individually, this loop has much better scenery. There is a moderate uphill section, though, that climbs about 1000 feet.
We did the hike by hiking first to Taft Point. From there, we took the Pohono Trail east, which was noticeably less used than the Taft Point trail. At first, there are no views as the trail descends; but near the end of the descent, the trail approaches the rim of the valley and allows a view of El Capitan and Yosemite Falls. The descent ends at Sentinel Creek, where you can cross the creek by hopping rocks. As soon as you cross the creek, you'll find a short spur trail heading to an open slab of granite; take the spur trail. From the viewpoint at the end of the trail, you can look straight down at cascading 2000-foot Sentinel Fall, as well as Yosemite Falls, Cathedral Spires, and El Capitan. There's no railing, though, so be careful near cliff edges. From this point on, the trail ascends about 1000 feet to the top of Sentinel Dome; along the way, there are many views of Yosemite Falls, including one point where you can see all three levels of Yosemite Falls.
Near the end of the 1.1-mile (one-way) hike from the Taft Point Parking Area, you'll find five deep cracks in a cliff; these are the fissures, chasms carved into the granite. Be careful around these; one wrong step could be fatal. After viewing the Fissures, continue walking west (to your left) past the Taft Point Overlook to an open view of the Cathedral Spires and El Capitan rising above Yosemite Valley.
The covered bridge at the Pioneer Yosemite History Center is the only covered bridge in the park. It was built by Galen Clark in the mid-19th century, then rebuilt by the National Park Service later on. The bridge spans the South Fork Merced River; walking down to the banks of the river beside the bridge will provide good views of the bridge, as well as the Chowchilla Mountains and Wawona Dome in the distance.
On the flight to San Fran, we had a chatty pilot that informed us whenever we flew over interesting sites. Thanks to him all the snow covered mounds made sense when he told us that we were flying right over Yosemite! How exciting to see over first glimsp of Yosemite by the air!
Of course.. you get the best information from the Rangers here. There is an informational award winning 20 minute movie. The inside also has a historic display to give you a further knowledge of the park.
The Ranger suggested to take the park shuttle to get your bearing of all the park attractions.
This walk is very popular. If you don't want a big crowd, you'd better get up early. This is a very nice walk, allthough the last part is difficult. There are hundreds of steps carved out. Once you are on top off the fall all is forgotten. The view is unforgetable.
Curry Village in Yosemite National Park has an ice skating rink that is open between November and March every year (weather dependent).
There is a fire pit located right off the rink in case you need to rest and warm up, and hot chocolate is sold from the front desk. Sessions are typically two and a half hours and are most crowded during the evening session.
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