Yosemite National Park

The Yogi Bear Saga.

I grew up watching Yogi Bear on television so I knew about Yosemite National Park (or I thought I did). Then recently for a number of years, Apple began choosing strange names for their operating systems. Back in 2014 it was the “Yosemite” operating system, then “El Capitan” and following that “Sierra”. A bit of research on what on earth these names meant led to the mountains in Yosemite National Park. So when my kids decided we should visit that park, I thought I’d at last see what all the fuss was about and maybe meet Yogi face to face.

The name “Yosemite” (apparently means “killer” in the Miwok language) and originally referred to the name of a tribe which was driven out of the area by the Mariposa Battalion some time after 1851. Yosemite is full of deep, narrow canyons. and U-shaped valley that attracts over 4 million visitors each year. But the winter time is a less crowded but you run the risk of not being able to go everywhere because of the snow.

Mid Winter Visit.

So the time of the year we chose was January. The Yogi idea went out the window because not only would he be hibernating but he actually came from Yellowstone national park. We expected the park would be frozen and so we would be limited in what we could do. But it was exactly the opposite. Sure it was cold but the year we went, the rains and snow were delayed and all the places we wanted to go were still accessible and we could freely travel to wherever we wanted. The waterfalls still had water tumbling over them and neither they or the streams were frozen. The only issue was that my kids found out that bike hire was not possible at that time of the year, presumably because they expected the roads to be covered by snow even though everything looked good. 

How to get there.

Yosemite national park is in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. To get there, we drove to the town of Mariposa from San Francisco – about a three hour drive. We left late in the day because the airline lost our bags so the trip there was mostly in the dark. We had been told the road into the valley was treacherous in winter so we decided to leave our car in Mariposa and catch the YARTS bus into the valley where we had booked a nights accommodation. To our surprise the seniors bus fare was just $8 for the return trip. The room in the Yosemite Valley Lodge cost about $250 per night so we chose to stay for the first nights in Mariposa at a much cheaper rate, and catch the first bus in the next day. Then we caught the last bus out the next day and headed back to our Mariposa accommodation. That way we got two days in the park for the cost of one nights accommodation.

The Scenery is Fabulous.

We passed some spectacular places on the way in and the road was quiet steep at times with many twist and turns but because the snow was delayed we could have driven in and out with little trouble. The bus drove beside a small river for many miles and sometimes when we got a glimpse of the valley ahead, the scenery was stunning – and that was before we even got there!

The first thing we did was to explore the park on a half day bus tour so we could get a feel for where we were. The bus driver took us to some brilliant places to look over the valley, stand beside quiet waters reflecting the scenes and many snow capped mountains.

We were warned about some sort of animals that, like Yogi Bear, have a liking for human food and tend to invade the guest rooms from time to time. We were told if they turn up to ring reception and not try to catch them. However we never got a chance to meet any so I don’t know how big or small they are.

What Can You Expect?

The park scenery is really outstanding. There are towering waterfalls, mountains all over the place, walking trails beside still or running streams and breath taking views from many lookouts. We saw the mountain called El Capitan and its steep rocky sides where some rock climbers have lost their lives but many more have made it to the top. We even found the Tunnel lookout where the default Apple Sierra OS picture was taken but, the light was no where near as good as in the Apple picture. I guess they had time to wait until it was just right.

We got up early on the second day and walked for miles beside the creeks and to the base of the waterfalls. Mist was hovering above the creeks and some of the open areas. We walked past lots of moss covered logs and trees with fantastic pattern etched I not their bark.  

So should you start planning to go there?  Yes for sure! I was one of the most spectacular national parks I have visited and as you can probably guess, I have many more photographs than I can include here. So if you can organise the right weather you will have a terrific time.



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