Overview: Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular parks of America and visited by over 3.5 million tourists each year who experience the beautiful landscape, waterfalls and steep cliffs of this place. Although the park spans over a huge area of 1189 square miles, the most popular section among tourists is the 7 square miles of Yosemite Valley. The park is extremely famous among mountain climbers for the 3500 foot vertical granite wall of El Capitan. The park has lot to offer including Rafting in 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 3 to 4 hours drive by road.
Yosemite Valley is located in the central part of the High Sierra and is the visited section of the park. Yosemite Valley starts experiencing most visitors starting early spring to early summer (Feb to May) as the waterfalls are in full intensity. Summer time is June to September is crowded especially on weekends as the school summer breaks are going around that time and lot of parents bring their children during that time. The park entrance fee is $ 20 per car valid for 7 days. You have the option to drive around yourself but to maintain the natural beauty of the park and to keep it pollution free zone, the park operates free shuttle buses to most of the popular spots. High traffic is common especially at the entrance but its worth seeing the beauty that lies ahead. Yosemite valley is the only place in Yosemite where you can buy food inside the park. Although all major roads are kept well-plowed throughout the snow season, the National Park Service requires that drivers of private vehicles carry tire chains. Few useful phone numbers are listed below
For General park information, current weather and road conditions call: 209-372-0200 (Recorded information). In summers information about trails can be found at: 209-372-0308, Lodging reservations: 559-252-4848, Campground reservations: 518-885-3639
Getting 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 into Yosemite National Park. It takes about one hour from 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, and connects with VIA bus lines for direct service to Yosemite Valley. Call call 800-872-7245 for more information.
Glacier Point Road: The Glacier Point Road is about 30 miles drive from the visitor center. It opens in late May to closes in November. This road offers one of the most spectacular views from the elevation. People make short stops, take pictures and hiking.
Tioga Pass: The Tioga pass is about 9950 feet high and offers spectacular views of the park. It is accessible only in summers around June-July as this area is at an elevation and gest heavy snow in winters. You can also see some beautiful Wildflowers and sequoias.
Mariposa Grove: The Mariposa Grove is Yosemite’s largest grove of giant sequoias. The largest tree, Grizzly Giant, is about 1800 years old.
Half Done: Half Dome is a granite dome in Yosemite National Park, located at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley possibly Yosemite’s most familiar sight. The granite crest rises more than 4,737 ft above the valley floor.
Useful websites for Yosemite National Park information are: http://www.travelandtourisminfo.com , nps.gov/yose/, yosemite.org
Be Safe: Yosemite has a large population of Black Bears lives in Yosemite and its recommended to keep food wrapped so the bears cannot smell it. Mountain lions are also spotted sometimes. Fill your car gas tank before entering the park as its expensive inside the park and available only at distances. Lodging is available but its expensive if done in the last minute, so book in advance and shop around. If you want budget lodging you can always stay a few miles away from the park.