I know this place. It’s a place unlike any other on earth, it’s magical, it’s mystical, it’s beautiful, it’s amazing, it’s stunning, it’s everything that you’d want the wilderness to potentially be; and it’s only visited by millions of people a year. It’s called Yosemite. You might have heard of it. I’d like to sit here, and tell you all sorts of amazing things about Yosemite, about the park’s history, about the park’s geology, about the park’s geography, and about everything in between. But you know what? That’s all been written. And for me to say that sounds a little bit like a cop-out, but let me be honest with you: in that respect, there’s nothing I can tell you that hasn’t been written in a better researched and more thorough way by other professionals. (Besides, you know that I’m going to mix in some facts in with my articles, anyways, so there’s nothing to be too depressed about, really. If you’ve never been to Yosemite – do the research, whether you’re starting here, or anywhere else, and prepare to be fascinated).
What I am going to tell you is the things I know based on personal experience, of having been a park visitor for all these years; and an employee of the Backcountry division of the National Park Service for one season. These facts and tips make up for any lack of specific knowledge that I might have in certain areas. I know Yosemite like the back of my hand. I know it like the back of both hands, actually, because it’s a big place – as big as Rhode Island. I know the trails. I know the plants. I know the animals, and I know the climbing routes. I know these things because I’ve been there, and I keep going back. That alone should tell you something: the person who loves solitude and hates crowds more than anything keeps returning to a place that attracts millions of people. Yes, for me Yosemite is also “Mysemite” (http://www.amazon.com/Mysemite-Sketches-Warren-Cederborg/dp/1425954952), and it can be Yoursemite too, because it is that special.
So let’s get started. There’s a lot to cover, and while I’ll be talking about winter activities primarily in Yosemite for the next couple weeks, there will be other posts about Yosemite in the following weeks and months. The best time to visit Yosemite? Any time, the park is stunning at all times. However, be aware of two things: if you go in winter, be prepared for winter conditions – snow, ice, and all that fun. If you go in summer, be prepared for lots of people, and sometimes, winter conditions at higher elevations. As for spring and fall? Be prepared for a mixture of all of the above.
As for the easiest-to-get-to-best-view-in-the-park, the answer can only be one thing: the Tunnel Viewpoint off of Highway 41. (http://www.nps.gov/yose/naturescience/scenic-vistas-tunnel-view.htm, http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/viewpoints.htm). The viewpoint is directly off of Highway 41, and is accessible from both the North and South side of the highway. Should you have entered Yosemite from the South Entrance on Highway 41, the viewpoint will be right in front of you once you exit the Wawona Tunnel. Should you be headed out of Yosemite Valley to the southern portion of the park, the viewpoint will be on your immediate right after you pass the Lower Bridalveil Fall parking area, and before you enter the Wawona Tunnel.
The view from the spot is simply amazing, and is popular at all times of day year round for good reason. Be prepared for lots of other visitors to be around you, hungry animals begging for food, and a spectacular view, no matter what time of day you arrive. It’s a great spot to stop, look, and sometimes reflect on a quiet winter morning, and a great spot to start your time in the park.
See you on the trail!
More Information here: http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm, http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/North_America/United_States_of_America/California/Yosemite_National_Park-756823/Things_To_Do-Yosemite_National_Park-Tunnel_View-BR-1.html