General description: Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular parks in America and is visited by more than 3.5 million tourists each year who experience the beautiful scenery, waterfalls and rugged cliffs of this place. Although the park is spread over a whopping 1,189 square miles, the most popular section among tourists is the 7-square-mile Yosemite Valley. The park is extremely famous among climbers for the 3,500-foot vertical granite wall of El Capitan. The park has much to offer including rafting on the Merced River, hiking, professional photography, biking, horseback riding, skiing and snowshoeing at Badger Pass, and camping. Yosemite National Park is located about 200 miles east of San Francisco (SFO), about a 3-4 hour drive by highway.
Yosemite Valley it is located in the central part of the Sierra Alta and is the most visited section of the park. Yosemite Valley begins to experience the most visitors from early spring to early summer (February to May) when the waterfalls are at their peak intensity. Summer time is from June to September, it is very crowded, especially on the weekends, as the school’s summer vacation lasts for that time and many parents bring their children during that time. The park entrance fee is $20 per car, valid for 7 days. You have the option of driving yourself, but to maintain the park’s natural beauty and keep it a pollution-free zone, the park operates free shuttle buses to most of the popular spots. High traffic is common, especially at the entrance, but the beauty ahead is worth seeing. Yosemite Valley is the only place in Yosemite where you can buy food inside the park. Although all major roads are kept clear during the snow season, the National Park Service requires drivers of private vehicles to carry tire chains. Some useful phone numbers are listed below
For general information about the park, current weather and road conditions, call: 209-372-0200 (recorded information). In the summers trail information can be found at: 209-372-0308, Lodging Reservations: 559-252-4848, Camping Reservations: 518-885-3639
How to get to Yosemite Valley: By Road Take the Oakland-Bay Bridge to Highway 80 East, take Highway 580 East and follow signs for Tracy/Stockton to Highway 20, Highway 205 to Highway 120 and Yosemite National Park. It takes about an hour from the park entrance to Yosemite Valley and Village.
AMTRAK serves San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Jose, San Francisco and Sacramento to and from Merced/Riverbank, connecting with VIA bus lines for direct service to Yosemite Valley. Call 800-872-7245 for more information.
Path of Punta del Glacier: Glacier Point Road is about a 30-mile drive from the visitor center. It opens at the end of May and closes in November. This path offers one of the most spectacular views from the elevation. People make short stops, take photos and walk.
Tioga Pass: Tioga Pass is about 9,950 feet high and offers spectacular views of the park. It can only be accessed during the summers, between June and July, since this area is at a high altitude and in winters it usually snows a lot. You can also see some beautiful wildflowers and redwoods.
Butterfly Grove: Mariposa Grove is the largest giant sequoia forest in Yosemite. The largest tree, Grizzly Giant, is about 1,800 years old.
Medium done: Half Dome is a granite dome in Yosemite National Park, located at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley, possibly the most familiar sight in Yosemite. The granite ridge rises more than 4,737 feet above the valley floor.
Useful websites for information on Yosemite National Park are: http://www.travelandtourisminfo.com, nps.gov/yose/, yosemite.org
Be save: Yosemite has a large population of black bears that live in Yosemite and it is recommended to keep food wrapped so the bears cannot smell it. Mountain lions are also seen at times. Fill up your car with gas before entering the park as it is expensive inside the park and only available from a distance. Accommodation is available, but expensive if done last minute, so book early and shop around. If you want budget accommodation, you can always stay a few miles from the park.