April in Yosemite

We’ve spent the better part of the past week in Yosemite National Park. After three weeks in the desert, we were happy to escape to cooler temperatures and a more familiar mountain landscape. I grew up coming to Yosemite, but it was Daniel’s first time in the park.

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After a few summertime visits in recent years, I had forgotten how much I love it here. Spring is a great time to visit: late enough that the snow in Yosemite Valley has melted and the daytime temperatures regularly reach 60 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 or 20 degrees Celsius), yet early enough to avoid the madness of peak summer tourist season. If the goal of visiting the wilderness is to enjoy peaceful, quiet time with nature, Yosemite in summer is about as far from that as you can get: a steady stream of massive chartered coaches and tour buses; mobs of loud, inappropriately shoed hikers on every trail; and lines of cars waiting for parking spots at every viewpoint. It’s one of the most heavily trafficked National Parks, and it feels like it. Do I sound like an old curmudgeon yet?

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Yosemite Valley wildlife: Tamer than your average housecat

Access to much of the park is closed until mid-May, but we still found plenty of great day hiking – from the well-traveled Mist Trail past Vernal and Nevada Falls to the almost-untouched Hetch Hetchy Valley at the park’s northwest entrance. We saw only a handful of backpackers on a scenic 13-mile (21 km) trail past Tueeulala, Wapama, and Rancheria Falls. As soon as you get more than a few minutes from a parking lot, the crowds thin out and you start to feel like you’re in nature again.

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13 Comments

  1. Holy WOW! The color and contrast is just amazing! Thanks for sharing, but now I need to find my way to Yosemite! A good problem to have I suppose. 🙂

  2. Great amazing pictures of the park! It is nice to see the water flow.
    We were they mid september. Seeing and reading this story, a return in the spring seems to be needed.

  3. Awesome pics! Did you stay in your van while visiting the park?

    • We sure did, and for a total price of $0 — versus $130 for five nights in a park campsite. I’ll share more about our dispersed camping adventures shortly.

  4. Yosemite is on our list! Beautiful photos. You really have an eye for composition. I feel like I’m there. Thanks for the tip about going in the spring. We’d much rather avoid crowds.

  5. Whoa — gorgeous photos! And I totally laughed at your description of the park — the only time we visited in the Valley in the summer, I distinctly remember a group of tourists attempting to hike the Vernal Falls trail in HEELS. No, I am not joking. High heeled shoes. On a trail. A very steep trail. I would have laughed if I hadn’t been so horrified. The whole time I was thinking, “Oh crap, we’re going to end up having to help rescue these fools.” But then we didn’t end up having to, and so I can laugh about it now. 🙂 But glad you could spend some solid time there when those folks weren’t around!

    • Hahaha, that is unbelievable. I did Half Dome a few years ago, and there was at least one guy on the cables (the part where someone falls and dies every couple years) wearing flip flops. Idiot!

  6. Breathtaking! I’ve got to go visit Yosemite!

  7. Matt Hi. We visited Yosemite for the first time in October 2013. We could not go into valley or big tree grove. However we could drive the rest of park because we were driving thru and promised the ranger not to recreate. The good news we enjoyed the park traffic free. We stayed at the Little Awhanne B&B Fish Camp. CA. Many local folks advised us that the park closed was a unique opportunity. We enjoyed a smaller grove of big trees near Fish Camp as did a few other travelers. We retired Nov 2015 completing endless summer Nov to April in Grand Cayman & Hawaii scuba diving. Your travel information on the Utah Moab area parks is helpful in planning our travel. Thank you. Steve

    • How cool to see the park without all the tourist traffic! Your “endless summer” adventures sound fantastic. We certainly aspire to do the same!

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