- By Dannie
- On Sep 12, 2018
- North America
- Travel Tips
“It’s one of the pinnacle places to live if you’re a mountain person,” says Mike Gauthier, who in 19 years at Washington’s Mount Rainier (1990-2009) rose to chief climbing ranger and search-and-rescue coordinator before beginning a seven-year stint as chief of staff at Yosemite. We shared the useful tips may help you arrange the trips from San Francisco to Yosemite as below.
Go outside the park
According to Holderfield, other areas of the High Sierra don’t get nearly the visitation that Yosemite National Park does, including Inyo National Forest and Stanislaus National Forest. Just minutes from the park’s boundaries, you can easily access Mono Lake (a habitat for millions of migratory and nesting birds), one of the world’s best examples of columnar basalt at Devils Postpile National Monument, unique mining and gold rush history, and even Sierra foothill wine country, along with the gateway communities of Groveland, Wawona, Lee Vining, all of which have more to offer visitors.
So after years of soaking up views from the centerpiece of Muir’s Range of Light, what advice would these two offer travelers who are pondering a trip to Yosemite?
“The key is to make good travel arrangements and have your lodging figured out,” Gauthier says, stressing the practical over the ethereal. “Don’t just come to Yosemite Valley and think you’ll find a campsite. You won’t.”
The park set a record for visitation in 2015 with almost 4.3 million people. “In 2016, 5.2 million people showed up,” Gauthier says. “So don’t come to the valley if you don’t have your lodging figured out.”
Though the park is spread across 1,169 square miles (or 748,436 acres, of which 94.4 percent is designated wilderness), most visitors cram into compact Yosemite Valley to gawk at its famed 8-mile corridor of nonstop scenic marvels. A 2009 study estimated the valley’s nightly population during the peak months of July and August averaged 15,000.
“The valley is pretty well enjoyed,” Gauthier concedes. “I’m not going to lie — people are crawling all over the popular places.”
He recommends visits in spring or fall, even winter, to dodge the summer rush, and an early start each day no matter what time of year you visit. To cope with the valley’s warm-weather crowds, Gauthier advises maintaining a good-natured understanding that solitude will be fleeting, and nonexistent at prime gathering spots such as Tunnel View pullout (at the east end of the 0.8-mile Wawona Tunnel, California’ longest) and the base of Yosemite Falls.
“The key is being with people you enjoy being around, taking in a spot and enjoying wherever it is,” Gauthier says. “Have a good time with the people you’re there with. Any of the sites are a winner. It’s always an incredible experience.”