Yosemite may have the most spectacular scenery of any National Park. I've been there many times. I will go there again many more times. So why do I have mixed feelings every time I go there?
Because it is, quite frankly, one of the most difficult National Parks to visit. Many other people are there ahead of you. Many more are right behind you. There aren't enough places to park all the cars that go there on any given day. Many of the trails are a solid line of hikers, single file. There aren't anywhere near enough campsites for all the would-be campers. If you try to make reservations to get around this problem, you usually find that the only place available to stay is Curry Village, an abomination consisting of hundreds of tent cabins packed in side-by-side.
Okay, that's the downside. But you will eventually get there, find a place to camp or get a backcountry permit. Then, once the hassle of getting there is over, you can relax and enjoy. You will enjoy much more if you can get away from the roads and most popular trails. Spend some time in Yosemite Valley, by all means, but arrange to spend most of your time away from the shoulder-to-shoulder nightmare that exists there. Even the bustling Tuolome Meadows is a welcome respite from the valley's crowds.
If at all possible, go in the offseason, especially September and October. Nights are chilly but the chance to enjoy the park without the summer throngs is well worth it. I toot this horn for all the parks, but it is more true for Yosemite than any other.
Visit the official site.
Favorite hike: Ten Lakes.
Favorite place to stay: The backcountry. Failing that, I'll settle for Tuolome Meadows.
Favorite place to sit for hours: At the foot of El Capitan.
Read: John Muir's The Yosemite, (the edition with Galen Rowell's photographs).
Any comments are appreciated. Send me an
All photography and text by Bill Dummitt (all rights reserved)
Website designed by
credits for this site.