We had two main goals for our summer travels. One was Glacier National Park in Montana and the other was Yosemite National Park in California. Bill in particular had been wanting to visit Yosemite for some time. Just as wildfires in the northern Cascades altered our route to Glacier,
We finally made it to the world famous Yosemite NP
we followed closely and somewhat anxiously the wildfires near Yosemite. A couple weeks before our scheduled arrival, we read news reports that hikers had been evacuated from an area in Yosemite. We checked the latest reports on the Yosemite website and proceeded with our travels. Little did we know the stressful trip to follow.
We decided It was best not to take the route which would have taken us through all the traffic in South Tahoe, especially since the road is hilly and they were having a big bike race on our travel day. We took Highway 88 toward the Nevada/California border. After passing into California we had to cross Carson Pass with an elevation of 8,573 feet. With a grade of 8% for twenty miles, our brakes overheated twice and we had to stop to let them cool. As if that wasn’t enough, we still had to make the climb into Yosemite. We had been warned about New Priest Grade Road to Yosemite from a fellow RV blogger, so when we reached the foot of the mountain we unhooked the car and I drove the car to help minimize the pull on the RV. There was a sign warning drivers to turn off their air conditioning to avoid overheating, and there was a place you could stop and get water for your radiator if needed. We began the steady six mile climb up the steep winding road with a grade of 6% to 7% and a hundred curves some of which were hairpin curves. I am sure the scenery was fabulous, but with constant curves and no guardrails, our hands gripped the steering wheels and our eyes never left the road. When we reached the top we felt both a sense of relief and victory. We had conquered the road from hell!
After driving an additional twenty miles we finally arrived at our campground which was conveniently located five miles from the west entrance to Yosemite National Park. Over seven hours after leaving Carson City, we arrived at our campsite as the sun began to set.
After our stressful travel day, we decided to rest the next day. We did drive the five miles to the visitors center at the entrance to the park to get a map and some information so we could plan our next several days.
Our first day into the park we decided to drive to the Yosemite Valley Visitors Center. At 747,956 acres, Yosemite is huge, and since 94% of the park is protected wilderness, most of it is never seen except by back country hikers. There are some roads you can drive in the park, but it takes quite a bit of driving to get anywhere. The park does offer a free shuttle bus which takes you to various places in the park, but we preferred the flexibility of using our own car which was a luxury since gasoline in the park was $4.79 a gallon. It was a 23 mile drive each way to Yosemite Valley, but the views were well worth it. We were surprised at how much traffic there was even after Labor Day, and we could imagine how crowded it must be in the summer. There were many turnouts to stop and take pictures, including massive cliff faces such as El Capitan and Half Dome, two of the most popular icons in the park. El Capitan is a massive granite monolith that stands 3,593 from base
7,569 FT El Capitan has a 3,000 vertical face
to summit. Half Dome is Yosemite’s most distinctive monument. It was shaped by forces uplifting as well as erosion from rivers and glaciers. While it appears to be a dome that was
Upper Yosemite Falls is dry in SEPT
The Iconic “Half Dome”
broken off to leave a half dome shape, scientists now think the half dome is the original shape.
We stopped at Swinging Bridge to have lunch. We couldn’t figure out why it was called swinging bridge since the bridge didn’t swing, but could only guess that the swinging bridge washed away and was replaced by this more permanent bridge. We tried to have lunch at a nearby picnic area but the bees swarmed over the food to the point we were afraid we would swallow a bee so we had to retreat to the car to finish eating.
Swing Bridge doesn’t swing anymore
Diane in the Yosemite valley
Bill in Yosemite valley
A parked deer
We arrived at the parking area for the Yosemite Valley Visitors Center which was crowded with cars and people. There is actually a half mile walk from the parking lot to Yosemite Village where the visitors center is located. This is truly a busy little village for tourists with the visitors center, gift shops, a nature center, art gallery, museum, theater, Indian Culture exhibit, Wilderness Center, a market, restaurant and post office. We have found that the national parks have excellent movies on the parks, and we watched two outstanding movies on Yosemite Park at the visitors center.
The idea of establishing a national park first began with Yosemite. A man named Galen Clark was disturbed by the logging he witnessed in the park and lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from development. This led President Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, to take time to sign the Yosemite Grant in 1864 to protect the land. Yosemite became the nation’s third National Park in 1890. We have been hearing a lot about naturalist John Muir since we first visited the Redwoods several months ago. Muir had a major influence on enlarging Yosemite, including a three day camping trip in the park with President Theodore Roosevelt. John Muir said of Yosemite, “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter”. During their camping trip which included weather so cold they bedded down with forty wool blankets and awoke to five inches of new snow on the already five feet of snow already on the ground, Muir showed Roosevelt the beauty of the park and convinced him of the need for further conservation. Roosevelt signed the Yosemite Recession Bill in 1906 which expanded the park boundaries. During his presidency Theodore Roosevelt signed into existence five national parks, eighteen national monuments, fifty-five national bird sanctuaries and wildlife refuges, and one hundred and fifty national forests. President Roosevelt said, “There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias….our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their Children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred”.