It's really amazing how much photography goes on in Yosemite during the average day. Thousands of photos of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Bridle Veil Falls, El Cap, and so on, all day long. I found this family of Asian tourists trying to capture their son doing the Jumping Norman, with limited success. There's not much one can do, except be polite and not get in the way of the big lenses people carry around.
Yosemite is run by a concession company based in North Carolina, so I'm told, so virtually everything in the valley generates huge profits for this company. While browsing the many gift shops is certainly entertaining, be careful that this indoor activity doesn't eat up time better spent outside sightseeing around the valley.
It's a safe bet to say that many people come to Yosemite National Park just to see the waterfalls and no falls are more famous than the park's namesakes. Unfortunately, this popularity makes them very crowded and many are left a bit disappointed by the lack of serenity. To put it simply, it's a zoo.
Unique Suggestions: You can actually get amazing views of the two falls from elsewhere in the park. The view from Glacier Point is particularly good and even walking around in the Valley away from the masses affords you different perspectives. But of course, there's nothing quite like being right up close, right? So, walk up the path with everyone else and look up in awe. If you're capable and have time, hike up to the top. You won't be alone but sometimes that is not a totally bad thing. Yosemite is like a microcosm of society. Sure, you can try your best to avoid your fellow man, but at some point, you have to join them too. This is about as good a place to do it as any. Climb with them, breathe heavy with them and once on top, look down at all those who didn't come with you and secretly wish they had.
Yosemite Sightseeing Tours (YST) out of Oakhurst CA was truly worse than nothing. Not only did we pay to sit in a bus for several hours that couldn't even go to parts of the park, but we had to put up with mean-spirited tour guide with chip on his shoulder. Truly, avoid this company.
Fun Alternatives: Just take the free shuttle buses that traverse the park. You'll actually see more that way than on YST tour.
Petrol in this park is much more expensive than other petrol stations in Lee
Winning or other places in the western or southern areas. There are several in
Yosemite, open year round are in Wawona and at Crane Flat, and seasonally at
Tuolumne Meadows (where I pumped in late September) and Tioga Road. Pay at pump
is available 24 hours a day by debit or credit card despite nobody being there.
There is really no cheap option for petrol once inside the park. Fill up ahead
of time to avoid being a captive audience.
It's not really a tourist trap, but trying to find a spot to park is ridiculous. This is the first falls visitors see upon entering the part by way of the main Arch Rock entrance. The path from the parking lot to the bottom of the falls is not long and is paved, but the last stretch is too steep for wheelchairs to climb. In their rush to see the falls, most tourists ignore the lovely forest of maples and dogwood trees that shade the trail. Bridalveil Falls are arguably the most beautiful in Yosemite Valley because of the misty white spray. Around noon, the sun will glisten through the mist making the white veil very apparent. Expect problems with the camera meter when shooting images of these falls. In spring, the unpredictable spray of water makes the boulders at the bottom of the falls slippery and dangerous, and signs warn visitors of this fact. In late summer, when the flow is much reduced, it's possible to stand under the falls themselves, although signs posted warn visitors against doing so.
Unique Suggestions: Park wherever you can and make the short hike. Be careful about jumping around on the slippery rocks. Show courtesy to others trying to create portraits at the bottom of the falls.
Often called simply "blue jays", the interesting top knotted Steller Jay is a common sight in Yosemite Valley. While not dangerous, these birds can be pests, so it's important not to leave food to far way from the person who's eating it. These birds are related to the woodpecker and crow, are very intelligent, and have a omnivore diet that includes many things one might not consider food. Also, don't feed these birds. Just have fun watching them.
I really dislike calling any part of a National Park a tourist trap. I am happy that people are enjoying nature.... it's just the selfish rude people that spoil it for others.
Sooo, to not let the others get the best of us, we do the following:
1) Take a lovely photo of El Cap, and Half Dome for the scrapbook
2)Agree that it is one of the most beautiful places on earth
3) Scamper off as quickly as we can to a more desolate area that has great Valley views.. such as Upper Yosemite Valley Falls Trail
Unique Suggestions: Be considerate of others...
Fun Alternatives: Any where else in the park...it is the size of Rhode Island ....don't ya know!
We loved Hetch Hetchy...dubbed "the Little Valley"area.
It was our first time to go to Yosemite National Park so of course we had to check the internet for tips. What we found scared us - Bears! That they can smell food from a very far distance. As filipinos, we couldn't stand not having food around (Filipinos I guess are one of the most voracious eaters in the world) so we ended up not staying at the park for the night. We had to stay at a hotel about 30 minutes away from the gate of the park. But after the trip, with the intention of going back, I figured it was ok to stay there. Just keep the food locked up in tightly sealed cans. I won't forget that the next time. It's such a wonderful experience being there.
Fun Alternatives: keep food away in tightly sealed cans and wrap them several times so the smell doesn't leak out.
I would recommend going once if you've never been; the views are specacular and worth the hassle. It's the only way to see such famous sights as Half Dome, El Capitan, and Bridal Veil Falls... and they're famous for a reason. But be prepared for some really bad crowds and traffic.
Unique Suggestions: Go early and be prepared to sit in traffic. They closed the gates to the park while we were there and it was still bad!
Fun Alternatives: Go to some of the lesser traveled parts of the park, like Wawona.
Don't believe them there are not that many lakes in Yosemite Valley, at least Mirrow Lake is invisible in October!
Unique Suggestions: Enjoy walking through a lake without getting wet. And you will definitely enjoy the little walk from bus stop 17.
Fun Alternatives: Visit in winter, spring, and early summer.
Don't believe them... there are no big waterfalls in Yosemite.. AT LEAST NOT IN OCTOBER.
Unique Suggestions: It's definitely worth the walk because Yosemite Valley is wonderful even without the waterfalls. Just use your imagination, look at a brochure, try to imagine the noise and smell of water - and the crowds of other visitors looking at it.
Fun Alternatives: Go in winter, spring and early summer!
Make sure you have a full tank before you go into the park. it will take a good 30-40 minutes to get to the campgrounds once you enter the park and there are only a couple gas stations. the gas is about double what it would normally cost! so makesure you fill up before you enter. ALso, bring all of the campoing gear you need. Equipment prices are insanely inflated also!
The view from Glacier Point down to the Valley Floor is spectacular, but if you're here in the peak summer season, don't be surprised to see the landscape dotted with car traffic and swarms of tourists. An inordinately high percentage of Yosemite visitors just tour the Valley and then leave. If you have more time, try to get out to some of the more remote areas of the park.
I was happy that we were at least able to do one long hike and that we drove down to the Mariposa Grove on our second day, but next time I visit, I plan to allow at least three full days so I can explore some more off the beaten path locations.
El Capitan (1067m) is the largest visible monolith on earth.
Visitors with spy-glasses are a known phenomenon. They are looking for mountaineers who are climbing up El Capitan and are almost invisible from the ground.
Unique Suggestions: Well, visit it ... in our opinion it's also a must visit.
Yosemite National Park