Yosemite National Park Hotels and Activities 2010 - Sunset by wuzhenguang


Travel Guide
Yosemite National Park Hotels and Activities 2010
Sunset Travel Guide

                                  California’s iconic
                                  3 | 24 hours of joy:
                                  First time to Yosemite? All it takes is a
                                  day to fall in love with it
                                  4 | Golden weekend:
                                  Enjoy three glorious days in the park
                                  in autumn
                                  6 | Yosemite’s top sights:
                                  The quintessential landmarks you
                                  don’t want to miss
                                  9 | Adventures for all ages:
                                  Amazing ways to explore the park—
                                  biking, rafting, rock-climbing, and
                                  more outdoor fun
                                  11 | Yosemite’s best campsites:
                                  Pitch your tent in Ansel Adams
                                  13 | Food & lodging:
                                  The best amenities in and near the

                                  15 | Travel resources

                                                                              cover: DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.. this page: DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. (3)

2   Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

                                                                                                  views of mountains reflected in still lake
                                                                           Upper Yosemite Fall
                                                                                                  water are unforgettable.
                                                                                                  9 a.m.: Breakfast
                                                                                                  You may think breakfast in the wilderness
                                                                                                  must be foil-wrapped and dehydrated. Not in
                                                                                                  the Ahwahnee Hotel’s baronial dining room
                                                                                                  ($$; 209/372-1489). Sunday brunch is the
                                                                                                  famous meal here, but frankly it’s a little
                                                                                                  overwhelming. We like regular breakfast:
                                                                                                  specifically the raisin brioche French toast,
                                                                                                  which will power you through the day.
                                                                                                  10 a.m.: High times
                                                                                                  Get some vicarious thrills. Take the shuttle to
                                                                                                  El Capitan Picnic Area to see spring’s squad-
                                                                                                  ron of climbers ascending El Cap, largest gran-
                                                                                                  ite monolith in the world. If you’re inspired to
                                                                                                  learn to climb, stop by the Yosemite Moun-
                                                                                                  taineering School (from $117; 209/372-8344).
                                                                                                  11 a.m.: Waterfalls
                                                                                                  May’s when the park’s waterfalls are at their
                                                                                                  splashiest, and midday is the time to see
                                                                                                  Yosemite Falls at their brightest, no longer in
                                                                                                  the shadow of Lost Arrow Spire. It’s a short
                                                                                                  stroll to the base of the Lower Fall from shut-
                                                                                                  tle stop 6; it’s a tougher hike, though, to get
                                                                                                  your face wet in the mist from Upper. Hike
                                                                                                  the first steep mile (with 1,000-foot elevation
                                                                                                  gain) to get to Columbia Rock and the amaz-
                                                                                                  ing views.
                                                                                                  Noon: Lunch
                                                                                                  The park’s fast food options are okay, but we
                                                                                                  prefer to grab bread, fruit, and cheese at
                                                                                                  Yosemite Village Store (209/372-1253), then
                                                                                                  take the shuttle bus to the picnic grounds at
                                                                                                  Happy Isles, starting point for the next
                                                                                                  1 p.m.: Waterfalls
                                                                                                  Time for cascades two and three in your

24 hours of joy
                                                                                                  triple crown of waterfalls. Take the Mist Trail
                                                                                                  1.5 miles to Vernal Fall; continue another 1.3
                                                                                                  to Nevada Fall. The trail is gorgeous, but
                                                                                                  occasionally harrowing (those narrow stair-
                                                                                                  steps carved into granite get our pulse
First time to Yosemite? All it takes is a day to fall in love with it                             racing, anyway). The views are like entering
                                                                                                  the world of Avatar, with no 3-D glasses
                                                                                                  needed because you’re in real 3-D.
                                                                                                  5 p.m.: Ice cream
How much excitement can you pack into one        Meadow—but the view is heaven, with the          Celebrate your hiking triumph with a double
day? In 24 hours, Jack Bauer regularly saves     sun’s first rays washing the valley’s granite    cone at the Curry Village Ice Cream Corner.
the world. In 24 hours, God created light. And   walls and the Sierra peaks above them. It’s in   6 p.m.: Photo op
you? You can construct the best day of your      Yosemite Valley about a mile west of Camp 4.     At the west end of Yosemite Valley, the
life in Yosemite National Park. We show you      8 a.m.: Hike                                     Tunnel View Overlook (recently restored with
how to get the most out of the park. All you     If you aren’t a person who gets up at 6 a.m.     the help of the Yosemite Fund) is the world’s
                                                                                                                                                     andrea m. gomez

need to know is where to go when, by follow-     to run into a meadow, you still need to see      best view, especially in late afternoon when
ing this hour-by-hour plan.                      Yosemite Valley in the morning. Take the free    sun gilds the scene in golden light. Smile:
6 a.m.: Sunrise                                  park shuttle bus up to the Mirror Lake Junc-     Here’s your holiday card for the year.
The name may be gory—Slaughterhouse              tion: From there it’s an easy walk, and the

3   Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

                                                                        Expansive granite views
                                                                        from Yosemite Valley
                                                                        right The Awahnee
                                                                        dining room awes with
                                                                        34-foot ceilings

                                                                                                    ber because of snow, so this month is your last
                                                                                                    chance to explore the area before spring.
                                                                                                    Get on granite The short climb to the top of
                                                                                                    Pothole Dome provides an ideal vantage
                                                                                                    point for taking in Tuolumne Meadows. From
                                                                                                    the pullout on the north side of State 120 at
                                                                                                    the western edge of the meadows, look for a
                                                                                                    winding granite path that leads first into a
                                                                                                    grove of pines and then up the gently curving
                                                                                                    rock face. The 0.5-mile trip to the top takes
                                                                                                    less than 20 minutes and is easy all the way.
                                                                                                    River walk The Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne
                                                                                                    River is on the other side of State 120 from
                                                                                                    the meadows. A meander along the river,
                                                                                                    really more like a gentle stream this late in
                                                                                                    the year, reveals quaking aspens and tall,
                                                                                                    golden grasses. Trails extend for more than 8
                                                                                                    miles up the canyon; make an out-and-back
                                                                                                    hike of any distance.
                                                                                                    Follow the sun On the drive back to Yosemite
                                                                                                    Valley, you’ll pass several well-known land-
                                                                                                    marks, including Tenaya Lake (an easy, 2-mile
                                                                                                    out-and-back hike begins at the south end of
                                                                                                    the sandy beach and runs along the south side

Golden weekend
                                                                                                    of the lake) and Olmsted Point, where Half
                                                                                                    Dome feels so close you can almost reach out
                                                                                                    and touch it. For dinner, the Yosemite Lodge
                                                                                                    at the Falls Food Court ($$; 209/372-1265) has
                                                                                                    burgers, pizza, and spaghetti, and it generally
Enjoy three glorious days in the park in autumn                                                     remains open until 8 p.m.

                                                                                                    Saturday: Yosemite Valley
                                                                                                    There’s no need for a car; rented bikes and
After the under-18 set heads back to school     perfect chunk of time to explore the park’s         the valley’s free shuttle will get you every-
and the swarm of summer visitors slows,         three main areas: Tuolumne Meadows,                 where you need to go. Find a shuttle map in
Yosemite National Park welcomes some of         Yosemite Valley, and Wawona. Stay in the            the free Yosemite Today newspaper, available
the most comfortable weather of the year.       valley—it’s central to everything, and reserva-     at all park entrances.
Aspens and cottonwoods turn from green to       tions are easier to come by at this time of year.   Grand hotel breakfast The Ahwahnee
gold, meadows are dotted with milkweed                                                              dining room (see Food & lodging, page 13)
pods spilling their silvery strands, and a      Friday: Tuolumne Meadows                            serves the valley’s best breakfast. Afterward,
                                                                                                                                                       david zaitz (2)

peaceful splendor invites you to relax.         Spend the afternoon at a cool 8,600 feet an         stop by the concierge desk to inquire about
    Before winter comes, take a long weekend    hour and a half north of Yosemite Valley. Tioga     free history tours of the hotel, usually offered
to see the best of the park. Three days are a   Road/State 120 usually closes by early Novem-       at least once a day on weekends.

4   Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

                                                      Hike to majestic Mirror Lake
                                                      right Rent bikes for a self-
                                                      powered tour of golden meadows

                                                                                                       (see Food & lodging, page 13), just steps from
                                                                                                       the lounge, is an elegant choice for dinner.
                                                                                                       Spot climbers October is usually a prime
                                                                                                       month for big-wall climbers on El Capitan
                                                                                                       (stop at pullouts along the Valley Loop Dr. at
                                                                                                       the southwest end of the valley). Watch them
                                                                                                       in action during the day (bring binoculars), or
                                                                                                       spot the twinkle of climbers’ headlamps on
                                                                                                       granite by night.

                                                                                                       Sunday: Wawona
                                                                                                       Spend a few early-morning hours in the valley,
                                                                                                       then drive south to this section of the park.
                                                                                                       Lazy or adventurous? Splurge on the
                                                                                                       Ahwahnee’s Sunday brunch buffet (Sun only,
                                                                                                       reservations recommended; see Food & lodging,
                                                                                                       page 13), then decide whether you’re in the
                                                                                                       mood for a hike or a rest. The trailhead for a
                                                                                                       3-mile out-and-back hike to Mirror Lake is
                                                                                                       behind the hotel. Or pick up the Sunday
                                                                                                       paper at the Ahwahnee Sweet Shop and
                                                                                                       settle down by the fire in the Great Lounge
                                                                                                       (nonguests are welcome in all public spaces
                                                                                                       at the Ahwahnee).
                                                                                                       Road-trip to the big trees Leave the valley
Famous footsteps Reserve three days ahead           Two wheels, good to go Exploring the valley        by late morning to get to Wawona and the
for a photographer’s walk of Cooks Meadow,          by bike is a rite of fall. You can rent comfy      Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. At the
along the Merced River, offered through the         SoCal-style cruiser bikes in Curry Village         grove, you have two choices for exploring: a
Ansel Adams Gallery (tours start at 9 a.m.          ($25.50 per day; 209/372-8319; bike rentals also   narrated, open-air tram tour ($25 per person;
Mon, Tue, Thu, Sat; free; www.anseladams.com        available at Yosemite Lodge, 209/372-1208).        209/372-1240) or a meandering, self-guided
or 209/372-4413). Get tips on taking better         Heading north and west from Curry Village,         hike. Unless you’re completely pooped, the
pictures, and find out where Ansel Adams set        ride along 12 miles of paved bike paths, past      hiking option is a more intimate experience.
up his tripod to snap some of the valley’s          the Merced River and Swinging Bridge, taking       The massive, 209-foot-tall Grizzly Giant is an
famous views. Or follow the path of such            in the dry, golden meadows and craggy black        easy 0.8-mile hike from the parking area, and
Yosemite heroes as Royal Robbins with a             oaks. The valley’s famous waterfalls have          the Fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree is a moderate
beginning rock-climbing class from the              slowed to a trickle or disappeared entirely by     1.5-mile hike past the Giant.
Yosemite Mountaineering School (from $117,          now, but you can see black streaks of lichen on    Victorian spirit Four miles from the Mari-
reservations recommended; in Curry Village;         the granite where the rush comes in spring.        posa Grove is the cheerful white-clapboard
www.yosemitepark.com or 209/372-8344).              “When the falls go dry, we like to say Yosemite    Wawona Hotel. Check out the circa-1918 golf
Picnic among the aspens Sentinel Beach,             Falls becomes Yosemite Walls,” jokes the           course (free to stroll, $21.50 to play nine holes;
                                                                                                                                                            andrea m. gomez, david zaitz

just off the Valley Loop Drive at the south         park’s Interpretive Operations chief.              209/375-6572), the oldest in the Sierra. Have
side of the valley, is one of the prettiest spots   Dessert before dinner As the afternoon             trout for dinner in the hotel’s pleasingly retro
for a picnic and a great place for wading in        fades, ride over to the Mountain Room              main dining room (see Food & lodging, page
the Merced River. Pick up lunch at Degnan’s         Lounge at Yosemite Lodge to roast your own         13), followed by gooey pine nut pie.
Deli (see Food & lodging, page 13), in the heart    s’mores on their indoor firepit (s’mores kits $3
of Yosemite Village.                                at the bar). The Mountain Room Restaurant

5   Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

                                                                                               Bridalveil Fall and Leaning Tower
                                                                                               below Cooks Meadow, with a
                                                                                               view of Half Dome in the

Yosemite’s top                                                                  park memorabilia such as ski equipment
                                                                                used at Badger Pass in the 1920s (see Food &

                                                                                lodging, page 13).
                                                                                Bridalveil Fall from Tunnel View. One of the
                                                                                West’s most memorable cascades, Bridalveil
                                                                                Fall can be seen throughout Yosemite Valley.
                                                                                Take in sweeping views of Yosemite Valley,
The quintessential landmarks you don’t want to miss                             Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall from Tunnel
                               Ahwahnee Hotel. Built in 1927 in a pristine      Cathedral Rocks and Three Brothers from
                               meadow with panoramic views of Glacier           Cook’s Meadow. Stroll the Cook’s Meadow
                                                                                                                                   DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. (2)

                               Point, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls, this       boardwalk, just west of Yosemite Village, for
                               national historic landmark does justice to its   a view especially spectacular in winter. Look-
                               setting. Free history tours are conducted        ing southwest you’ll see Cathedral Rocks
                               (check with the concierge desk), but you’re      (center, wrapped in clouds) and, to the right,
                               welcome to explore on your own anytime.          Three Brothers.
                               Among the highlights: the immense dining         Cooks Meadow. See where Ansel Adams
                               room; the Great Lounge, with its walk-in fire-   snapped some of the valley’s famous views
                               place and Native American-inspired decor;        while strolling or biking the Cook’s Meadow
                               and the Winter Club Room, which showcases        boardwalk, just west of Yosemite Village.

6   Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

                                                                                                      Unless you’re completely pooped, the hiking
                                                                                                      option is a more intimate experience. The
                                                                                                      massive, 209-foot-tall Grizzly Giant is an easy
                                                                                                      0.8-mile hike from the parking area, and the
                                                                                                      Fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree is a moderate
                                                                                                      1.5-mile hike past the Giant.
                                                                                                      Merced River from Sentinel Bridge. Catch
                                                                                                      some cool views on Sentinel Bridge looking
                                                                                                      over Merced River and taking in majestic Half
                                                                                                      Dome. Autumn colors frame the river in this
                                                                                                      scene. If you’re planning a visit in summer,
                                                                                                      lazily catch the views from a rafting trip.
                                                                                                      Tioga Road & Olmstead Point. Take the
                                                                                                      39-mile scenic drive (Highway 120) between
                                                                                                      Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows and stop
                                                                                                      at turnouts along the way that offer beautiful
                                                                                                      vistas. Take Tioga Road to the popular
                                                                                                      Olmsted Point, where Half Dome feels so
                                                                                                      close you can almost reach out and touch it.
                                                                                                      The 9,945-foot Tioga Pass usually opens by
    El Capital reflected in the
    Merced River RIGHT Half Dome                                                                      Memorial Day (as does the road to Glacier
                                                                                                      Point) and stays open until mid-November
                                                                                                      but call the park switchboard to check
                                                                                                      Tuolumne Meadows. Spend the afternoon at
You’ll get fantastic views of Cathedral Rocks       the park’s most iconic landmarks. Half Dome       a cool 8,600 feet in Tuolumne Meadows, an
and Three Brothers and if lucky, spot a mule        can be seen throughout much of eastern            hour and a half north of Yosemite Valley. The
deer or black bear that depend on the               Yosemite Valley. Take in the view on a 2-mile     short climb to the top of Pothole Dome
meadow habitat.                                     round-trip hike to Mirror Lake. For diehards:     provides an ideal vantage point for taking in
El Capitan. El Capitan, a favorite with climb-      Hike 14- to 16-miles to the top of the 5,000-     Tuolumne Meadows. From the pullout on the
ers, is one of Yosemite Valley’s many awe-          foot granite formation traversing the last 400    north side of State 120 at the western edge of
inspiring granite sentinels. The granite face,      feet on metal cables. The reward is expansive     the meadows, look for a winding granite path
formed by glaciers eons ago, rises more than        views of Yosemite Valley from 8,800 feet          that leads first into a grove of pines and then
3,000 feet. To watch climbers in action (bring      above sea level. (For a Half Dome hiking guide,   up the gently curving rock face. The 0.5-mile
binoculars), stop at pullouts along the Valley      visit nps.gov/yose.)                              trip to the top takes less than 20 minutes and
Loop Dr. at the southwest end of the valley.        Hetch Hetchy. Hang a left before the Big Oak      is easy all the way.
Glacier Point. Hop in the care for a one-hour       Flat entrance to Yosemite, and you’re en          Vernal and Nevada Falls. Vernal and Nevada
                                                                                                                                                        DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. (2)

drive to Glacier Point from Yosemite Valley.        route to Hetch Hetchy, the park’s hidden          Falls, can be seen close up on the popular
Gaze out over one of the earth’s greatest           jewel, where looming granite walls and three      (and strenuous) 1.5-mile Mist Trail. The trails
panoramas: Half Dome, Basket Dome, and              waterfalls wrap an 8-mile-long reservoir.         will be crowded in spring to mid-summer
Liberty Cap. For die-hards: Take the hikers’        Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Walk            when flows are at their peak, however the
bus up to Glacier Point, then hike Four Mile        among giants in Wawona at the Mariposa            waterfall views are some of the West’s most
Trail back to Yosemite Valley.                      Grove of Giant Sequoias. At the grove, you        memorable. (Note: Be prepared to get wet.
Half Dome. Visiting Yosemite without seeing         have two choices for exploring: a narrated,       The spray from the falls can be more than
Half Dome is like heading to Paris and not          open-air tram tour ($25 per person; 209/372-      “mist” during spring and early summer.)
taking a picture of the Eiffel Tower. It’s one of   1240) or a meandering, self-guided hike.          Wapama Fall. Leave the throngs of summer

7    Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

                                                                                                    Park 101
                                                                                                    History The National Park was born
                                                                                                    here. On June 30, 1864—with the
                                                                                                    nation still fighting the Civil War—
                                                                                                    President Lincoln signed a bill estab-
                                                                                                    lishing a preserve in California’s
                                                                                                    Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove of
                                                                                                    Giant Sequoias. For the first time in
                                                                                                    human history, a natural landscape
                                                                                                    was set aside so that a nation’s citizens
                                                                                                    could explore it, have adventures in it,
                                                                                                    and revel in its beauty. Take one look at
                                                                                                    Yosemite Valley—say, the classic first
                                                                                                    glimpse from Tunnel View Overlook—
                                                                                                    and you understand why Lincoln did
                                                                                                    what he did. There’s no more spectacu-
                                                                                                    lar scene in the world than this glorious
                                                                                                    wonderland in the Sierra Nevada.
                                                                                                    Getting there Yosemite lies 195 miles
                                                                                                    east of San Francisco, 175 southeast of
                                                                                                    Sacramento, and 90 miles northeast of
                                                                                                    Fresno. The main gateway towns to
                                                                                                    Yosemite are El Portal, on California
                                                                                                    140 just west of the park; Mariposa,
                                                                                                    also on 140 30 miles southwest from El
                                                                                                    Portal; Groveland, on California 120
                                                                                                    west of the park; and Oakhurst, on
                                                                                                    California 41 south of the park. The
                                                                                                    entrance fee is $20 per vehicle.
                                                                                                    When to go Yosemite is a four-seasons
                                                                                                    park. Summer is the busiest time, with
                                                                                                    highs in the 80s and occasional thun-
                                                                                                    derstorms. Fall offers warm days, cool
                                                                                                    nights and fall color. Winter brings lows
                                                                                                    in the 20s, considerable snow at higher
                                                                                                    elevations and lesser quantities in the
                                                                                                    valley. Spring is gorgeous, with blos-

                                                                                                                                                clockwise from top: kDNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. (2), Alaskan Dude (on Flickr Creative Commons)
                                                                                                    soming dogwoods, splashing waterfalls
                                                                                                    and highs in the 60s.
                                                                                                    The park’s influence Yosemite has
                                          Tuolumne Meadows above Merced River                       human history fully as fascinating as
                                          and the north face of Half Dome left Mari-                its natural history. It has inspired
                                          posa Grove’s massive sequoias                             magnificent architecture in the Ahwah-
                                                                                                    nee, among the grandest of the
                                                                                                    national park hotels, stunning art in
                                                                                                    the landscapes of painter Albert Bier-
                                                                                                    stadt, eloquent photography in the
tourists in your dust at the 1,240-foot-tall      there’s a charming covered bridge (the oldest     works of Ansel Adams. It shaped the
Wapama Fall at Hetch Hetchy reservoir. The        in California) spanning the South Fork of the     life of America’s most famous environ-
                                                                                                    mentalist, John Muir. We’ll let Muir
base of the fall is at the turnaround point for   Merced River (see Food & lodging, page 13).
                                                                                                    have the last word on the place he
a gorgeous, fairly easy 5-mile round-trip hike.   Yosemite Falls from Glacier Point. Give your-     loved: “Nowhere will you see the
Wawona. On the south side of the park, you        self a “Yosemite facial” by standing in the       majestic operations of nature more
can explore pioneer history and luxuriate by      spray along the footbridge at the base of         clearly revealed.”
the fire at the historic Wawona Hotel. For an     2,425-foot Yosemite Falls for a few minutes.      More information National Park
                                                                                                    Service (www.nps.gov/yose or 209-372-
easy hike before lunch, try the 3 1/2-mile        The two-tier falls is one of the tallest in the
                                                                                                    0200); DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosem-
Meadow Loop, starting near the Wawona             world.                                            ite (www.yosemitepark.com or
Hotel. The cheerful white-clapboard Wawona        Yosemite Valley. Quiet hikes and lazy picnics     209/372-1236); Yosemite Association
Hotel is four miles from the Mariposa Grove       are yours for the taking in Yosemite Valley.      (www.yosemite.org); The Ansel Adams
and is decorated in period style. Or spend a      Soak in the peaceful splendor that invites you    Gallery (www.anseladams.com); The
                                                                                                    Yosemite Fund (www.yosemitefund.
relaxing afternoon at the Pioneer Yosemite        to relax under expansive granite views.
                                                                                                    org); The Yosemite Store (www.
History Center, a depiction of early pioneer                                                        yosemitestore.com)
life in Wawona. In addition to relocated
buildings dating from the 1850s and ‘60s,

8   Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

    Climbing is one of the most popular
    and exhilarating park pursuits
    below Riding scenic trails on a
    guided horseback tour

Adventures for
all ages
Amazing ways to explore the park—biking, rafting, rock-
                                                                                           Raft or kayak the Merced River. You can rent
                                                                                           an inflatable raft and drift 3 miles down the
                                                                                           Merced River, taking in majestic Half Dome
climbing, and more outdoor fun                                                             and towering Yosemite Falls. Rafting rentals
                                                                                           and permitted locations, www.nps.gov/yose.
                                          Spring, summer, fall                             Rock climb with Yosemite Mountaineering
                                          Bike on comfy SoCal-style cruisers available     School. Yosemite has been a rock climber’s
                                                                                                                                            DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. (2)

                                          for rent in Curry Village. $25.50 per day;       haven for a century--you can learn, too, at
                                          209/372-8319; bike rentals also available at     daily classes offered by the school. From $117
                                          Yosemite Lodge, 209/372-1208.                    for a 6- to 7-hour class, reservations recom-
                                          Horseback ride to Chilnualna Falls, Mirror       mended; in Curry Village; www.yosemitepark.
                                          Lake, or in Tuolumne Meadows. Two-hour,          com or 209/372-8344.
                                          half-day, and full-day rides are available at    Hiking, bird-watching, photography—these
                                          three locations through DNC Parks & Resorts      are just some of the enjoyable courses
                                          at Yosemite from spring through fall. From $60   offered by the Yosemite Association. www.
                                          for a 2-hour ride, reservations recommended;     yosemite.org or 209/379-2324.

9    Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

                                                         Kayak the river and scenic
                                                         lakes right Snowshoeing
                                                         against one of the West’s
                                                         best backdrops

                                                                                                    with a fine view of this lovely waterfall.
                                                                                                    Trailhead: Happy Isles (shuttle stop #16).
                                                                                                    Distance: 1.6 miles round-trip. Difficulty: easy.

                                                                                                    Tolumne Meadows
                                                                                                    Gaylor Lakes This shortish hike climbs to
                                                                                                    give you incredible High Sierra views.
                                                                                                    Trailhead: Tioga Pass Entrance Station.
                                                                                                    Distance: 2 miles. Difficulty: moderate.
                                                                                                    Pothole Dome This short climb provides an
Winter                                           Yosemite Valley                                    ideal vantage point for taking in Tuolumne
Ice-skate at the world’s most beautiful          Half Dome It’s on a lot of people’s life list of   Meadows. From the pullout on the north side
outdoor rink. $8, $3 skate rental; at Curry      adventures—the demanding hike/climb up             of State 120 look for a big meadow that leads
Village; 209/372-8319.                           8,800-foot Half Dome. Allow at least 10            first into a grove of pines and then up the
Skiing and tubing at Badger Pass Ski Area is     hours, and know that the last 900 feet of trail    gently curving rock face. The 0.5-mile trip to
ideal for families: No crowds, and beginning     is a steep climb up the dome, with you cling-      the top takes less than 20 minutes and is
and intermediate runs. Lift tickets from $33,    ing to cables for the final 400-foot ascent.       easy all the way. Trailhead: State 120 at west-
rentals from $25.50; tubing $15; www.yosemite.   Trailhead: Happy Isles (shuttle stop #16).         ern edge of the meadows. Distance: .5 mile.
org or 209/372-8430.                             Distance: 14-16 miles. Difficulty: hard.           Difficulty: easy.
Snowshoe with outings lead by The Yosemite       Lower Yosemite Falls In Yosemite Valley, a
Association. From $50, including equipment;      short, very pretty hike with a great reward in     Wawona and Glacier Point Road
                                                                                                                                                         DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. (2)

reservations required; www.yosemite.org or       the view of the falls. Trailhead: Lower Yosem-     The Grizzly Giant In the Mariposa Grove, an
209/379-2321.                                    ite Fall Trailhead (Shuttle Stop #6).              easy hike to one of Yosemite’s most impres-
                                                 Distance: 1 mile loop. Difficulty: easy.           sive sequoias. Trailhead: Mariposa Grove
Hiking year-round                                Mirror Lake A two-mile trail leads to this         parking lot. Distance: .8 miles. Difficulty: easy.
One of the best ways to see Yosemite is by       lake and surrounding meadow, particularly          Taft Point A mostly flat walk through forest
foot. You can find trail descriptions and maps   pretty in early morning. Trailhead: Shuttle        leads you to this promontory and eye-popping
through the National Park Service (www.nps.      Stop #17. Distance: 2 miles round-trip.            views of the Yosemite Valley.
gov/yose).Here are our top picks for Yosemite    Difficulty: easy.                                  Trailhead: Taft Point/Sentinel Dome parking
hikes by region:                                 Vernal Fall It’s a .8-mile hike to a footbridge    area. Distance: 2.2 miles. Difficulty: moderate.

10   Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

                                                                                                    Saddlebag Lake below Hike
                                                                                                    from your campsite to views
                                                                                                    of Yosemite Falls

Yosemite’s best
campsites                                                                                                                            Alaskan Dude (on Flickr Creative Commons), DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
                                                                                In Yosemite National Park
                                                                                Porcupine Flat, White Wolf, Yosemite Creek
                                                                                (all profiled below), and three additional park
Pitch your tent in Ansel Adams country                                          campgrounds—Bridalveil Creek (Jul–early
                                                                                Sep), Camp 4 (year-round), and Tamarack Flat
                                Plunging waterfalls, stark granite, alpine      (Jun–late Sep)—are first come, first served.
                                lakes, pristine meadows, giant sequoia trees,   Reservations are a must at all others (reserve
                                and meandering rivers lure more than 3          up to five months in advance on the 15th of each
                                million visitors to Yosemite National Park      month; reservations.nps.gov or 800/436-7275).
                                each year. And since everyone comes for the     Seven-day pass $20 per vehicle. www.nps.gov/
                                scenery, why spend the night walled off from    yose or 209/372-0200.
                                it? Get up close and personal with Yosemite’s   Porcupine Flat. Situated 38 miles from
                                grandeur at one of 13 park campgrounds,         Yosemite Valley, it’s often the last to fill up on
                                each graced by the starry skies and sweet       summer nights, and it’s ideal for exploring
                                mountain air of the majestic Sierra Nevada      the high country. 52 sites Jul–mid Oct; $10. No
                                Mountains.                                      running water. 209/372-0200.

11   Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

                                                                                                              camping tips
                                                                                                              Show up right around checkout (10 a.m.
                                                                                                              in Yosemite Valley; noon at all other park
                                                                                                              camps) to get your pick of available
                                                                                                              sites as campers vacate.
                                                                                                                  Be bear aware. Don’t leave food or
                                                                                                              any other scented items (cosmetics,
                                                                                                              toiletries) in your car or tent—store
                                                                                                              them in your campsite’s bear box.
                                                                                                                  Outside the valley, be as self-suffi-
                                                                                                              cient as possible—it’s a haul to the
                                                                                                              nearest store.

                                                                                                         Sep; $19. Inyo National Forest (see above).

                                                                                                                                                              ative Commons), im247frogs (on Flickr Creative Commons), DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                              clockwise from top left: Mat Honan (on Flickr Creative Commons), jcookfisher (on Flickr Cre-
                                             top left Scenic seclusion right Aspens in                   Saddlebag Lake. At 10,087 feet, the location’s
                                             fall at Big Bend above Ellery Lake left A tent
                                                                                                         a major entrance point for the 20 Lakes
                                             cabin at White Wolf Lodge
                                                                                                         Basin, a favorite hiking and angling area. And
                                                                                                         it’s only 5 miles outside Yosemite’s eastern
                                                                                                         boundary. Sites 16 and 18 have a lake view to
                                                                                                         die for. 20 sites Jun–mid-Oct; $19. Inyo National
White Wolf. Nestled in a lodgepole pine               highway via a narrow, pothole-littered road.       Forest (see above).
forest at 8,000 feet, the campground                  40 sites Jul–early Sep; $10. No running water.     Sawmill. Each campsite has a drop-dead
provides a taste of the Yosemite high country         209/372-0200.                                      gorgeous view of the High Sierra—mountain
without the drudgery of backpacking. The              Outside the park                                   peaks, a sub-alpine meadow bisected by a
camping gods are smiling on you if you score          Big Bend. Set in a quaking aspen and Jeffrey       rushing stream, and scattered whitebark
site 28 (our favorite), 22, or 23—the largest         pine forest alongside Lee Vining Creek, Big        pines. If there’s camping in heaven, this is
and most private options. White Wolf offers a         Bend is a perennial favorite of Yosemite           what it looks like. 12 sites May–Sep; $14. No RVs;
few luxuries, including delicious meals at            veterans. It’s just 9 miles from the park’s        no running water. Inyo National Forest (see
neighboring White Wolf Lodge ($$; breakfast,          eastern boundary. 17 sites late Apr–Oct 31; $19.   above).
box lunches, and dinner daily, reservations           Inyo National Forest, www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo or     Summerdale. Located 1 1/2 miles from Yosem-
required; 209/372-8416). Trails to Lukens and         760/647-3044.                                      ite’s southern entrance, Summerdale is set at
Harden Lakes lead from the camp. 74 sites             Ellery Lake. The granite-backed lake               5,000 feet in elevation on Big Creek. Many
Jul–early Sep; $14. 209/372-0200.                     surrounded by jagged peaks lies 3 miles west       campers spend summer afternoons cooling
Yosemite Creek. The campsite provides the             of Yosemite’s eastern border at an elevation       off in the creek’s deep, clear swimming holes.
most seclusion of any car campground in the           of 9,500 feet. The best sites are set off from     29 reservable sites mid-May–Sep; $20. www.
park, but the price is a 4 3/4 -mile drive off the    the main camp by a short walk. 21 sites May–       reserveusa.com or 877/444-6777.

12   Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

                                                                                                        Hotel rate key
                                                                                                        $ inexpensive under $100
                                                                                                        $$ moderate $100-$175
                                                                                                        $$$ expensive $175-$250
                                                                                                        $$$$ splurge $250 and up

                                                                                                   Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. Simple cabins
                                                                                                   (no electricity) gathered around a central
                                                                                                   dining tent. Summer only. $$.
                                                                                                   Wawona Hotel. Beautiful 19th century hotel;
                                                                                                   small rooms, but quiet, pretty setting. $$-$$$.
                                                                                                   White Wolf Inn. Off Tioga Road; 4 cabins
                                                                                                   with bath, 24 tent cabins without. $.
                                                                                                   Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Modern, motel-
                                                                                                   style lodge, conveniently located; its Moun-
                                                                                                   tain Room restaurant is good. $$$.
                                                                      The historic Awahnee
                                                                      right Yosemite Lodge         Lodging outside the park
                                                                      at the Falls couldn’t have
                                                                      more apt of a name
                                                                                                   A Far Meadow. Now you can overnight in the
                                                                                                   Sierra National Forest on the edge of Yosem-

Food & lodging
                                                                                                   ite where the closest thing to a crowd is a
                                                                                                   herd of deer. Designers Heinz Legler and
                                                                                                   Veronique Lievre brought their unusual
                                                                                                   vision to these four rental cabins, including
                                                                                                   an A-frame inspired by a ’50s Sunset cover,
The best amenities in and near the park                                                            but updated with a floating staircase and
                                                                                                   solar panels. $$, A-frames $$$; three-night mini-
                                                                                                   mum; 310/728-6158.
                                                                                                   Best Western Yosemite Gateway Inn. Basic
Lodging in the park                              or Yosemite Falls. The hotel is named for the     accommodations, with the added bonus of a
                                                                                                                                                       DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. (2)

All lodging within Yosemite is handled by the    Ahwahneechee, a local band of Native Amer-        mountain view or garden setting; many rooms
park concessionaire, DNC Parks & Resorts.        icans. $$$$.                                      have balconies and patios. In Oakhurst; $$;
Reservations can be made by calling 801/559-     Curry Village. Rustic lodging in Yosemite         www.yosemitegatewayinn.com or 800/545-5462.
5055 or visiting www.yosemitepark.com.           Valley: simple motel rooms, cabins and tent       Best Western Yosemite Way Station. A full
The Ahwahnee. This grand, 80-year-old hotel      cabins, some with bath, some without. $.          range of amenities, including complimentary
is by far the poshest (and most expensive)       Housekeeping Camp. In Yosemite Valley, one        continental breakfast, an outdoor pool, and
lodging in the park. The fabled 1927 hotel has   step up from camping: inexpensive concrete        tennis courts. In Mariposa; $$; www.yosemite-
three wings, each oriented toward a major        and canvas lodging; they supply beds but you      bestwestern.com or 209/966-7545.
feature of the park: Half Dome, Glacier Point,   supply the linens. $.                             Chateau du Sureau. Extremely elegant rooms

13   Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

     A Far Meadow’s
     Sunset-inspired A-frame
     RIGHT Wawona Dining

in an Austrian chateau recreated in the Sierra     Yosemite View Lodge. Large modern motel         evening outdoor bbq is a must. $$-$$$.
Nevada foothills; the adjoining restaurant,        near the park’s west entrance. In El Portal;
Erna’s Elderberry House, is among the best in      $$-$$$; www.yosemite-motels.com/yosemiteview-   Dining outside the park
California (see right). In Oakhurst; $$$$; www.    lodge or 888-742-4371.                          Castillo’s Mexican Restaurant. Local favorite.
elderberryhouse.com or 559/683-6800.                                                               In Mariposa; $$; 209/742-4413.
Evergreen Lodge. Cluster of historic cabins        Dining in the park                              Erna’s Elderberry House. Austrian-born Erna
now nicely restored, including 24 recently         For information and reservations, visit www.    Kubin-Clanin has brought European haute
opened ones with interiors by San Francisco        yosemitepark.com.                               cuisine to the Sierra foothills. In Oakhurst; $$$;
designer Charles de Lisle; adjacent tavern         Ahwahnee. The hotel’s dining room is            www.elderberryhouse.com or 559/683-6800.
                                                                                                                                                        david fenton, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.

and restaurant. In Groveland; $$; evergreen-       famous for its lavish Sunday brunches, but      Groveland Hotel. Handsome dining room in
lodge.com or 209/379-2606.                         regular breakfast is good here, too. Reserva-   historic hotel; good wine list. In Groveland; $$$
The Groveland Hotel at Yosemite National           tions recommended. “Resort casual” attire—      (see Lodging outside the park, above).
Park. On Groveland’s attractive Main Street,       e.g. no shorts or tank tops. $$$-$$$$.          Savoury’s. Ambitious fine dining for a small
this historic hotel (portions date back to 1849)   Degnan’s Deli. Coffee and sandwiches near       town. In Mariposa; $$-$$$; 209/966-7677.
is nicely spruced up. Good restaurant too. In      the Visitor Center. $.
Groveland; $$; www.groveland.com or 800/273-       Mountain Room Restaurant. At Yosemite
3314.                                              Lodge at the Falls, not as picturesque as the
Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. Attractive modern        Ahwahnee but good steak and wine list. $$$.
hotel near the park’s southern entrance. In        Wawona Dining Room. Delightfully old-fash-
Fish Camp; $$$-$$$$; www.tenayalodge.com or        ioned, both in setting and menu: pot roast is
888/514-2167.                                      a favorite here. In summer, the Saturday

14     Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

Find more inspiration for travel in the West
on Sunset.com

                                                                        Explore secret California
                                                                        From lava beds to gushing waterfalls, northeastern California
                                                                        is home to numerous delights. Go fishing, hiking, and road trip-
                                                                        ping through this hidden corner of the Golden State.

     Visit Yellowstone National Park
     Yosemite is but one of the West’s dazzling national parks.
     Yellowstone is not to be missed, and we share tons of info on
     exploring the park, including where to see geysers, wildlife,
     and the park’s most stunning landscapes.

                                                                                                                                           clockwise from left: xanterra parks & resorts, thomas j. story (2)
                             Your ultimate resource for travel in the

                                                                        CA’s best autumn
                             West, Sunset Travel is packed with tips
                             on the best places to go, from National
                             Parks to urban retreats. Get inspired      escapes
                             with Sunset’s ideas for fun weekend        Yosemite isn’t the only surefire bet for
                             trips or the ultimate Western vacation.    an unforgettable fall trip. From perfect
                             www.sunset.com/travel                      beach weather to vibrant harvest and
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                                                                        off-season deals.

15    Sunset Travel Guide
Sunset Travel Guide

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