Your free time in Yosemite - Scott Dunn Suggests
Yosemite National Park, California, United States of America
Walking and biking are the most popular ways to see Yosemite, with self-guide trail maps issued at the entrance. Wardens at the visitors centre can advise on activities & the newspaper will tell you what's going on from star-gazing to wildlife talks!
Located in Mariposa County, the park was established in 1890 as one of the first National Parks in the US to protect the lands from the encroaching gold rush. The park encompasses over 1000 square miles of scenic wild lands of the Sierra Nevada and its epic valleys and peaks range from 2,000 feet to 13,000 feet above sea level. The park is home to alpine meadows perfect for picnics, mountain forests for hiking, lakes and waterfalls, sky-scraping giant sequoias and redwood trees and plentiful wildlife from mule deer to black bears.
The park's general entrance fee is $30 per car (subject to change and dependent on season) and is valid for 7 days and these can be easily obtained at the park entrance.
Not to be missed is the sweeping view of the valley floor and towering rocks from Tunnel View, world-class climbers conquering El Capitan, walking the Meadow Loop, hiking up to Half Dome for the energetic or to Glacier Point and when the water is flowing, simply marvelling at the wonder of Yosemite Falls (Spring and Fall).
Walking and biking are the most popular ways to see the park, but the 2-hour Valley Floor tour on board an open-air park ranger guided truck (departing from outside Yosemite Lodge at the Falls) is a good way to get your bearings and see the park with minimum exertion with enthusiastic park wardens. Bikes are reserved on a first-come first-served basis from outside Yosemite Lodge at the Falls.
For cultural events in the park, visit the Yosemite Conservancy website and for activities visit the Yosemite National Park website and go to 'Things to do' for information on hiking, biking and riding.
There is also the Ansel Adams Gallery located in the heart of the park, and Yosemite Visitors' centre that makes a good starting point for your day in the park.
For other listings and activities in the park, simply ask for the Yosemite newspaper on arrival which is the best way to find out what is going on! Join a stargazing night with friendly astronomers at Glacier Point or delight the children with a talk on grizzly bears. There's always something educational and fun going on during the summer months.
The park sits within Mariposa County, which offers more than just California’s gateway to Yosemite Park. Mariposa is dotted with charming gold-rush towns. Stop in Mariposa town itself on the junction of the 140 and 49 for a taste of real gold country life. Scott Dunn can arrange a tour of the oldest working Court House in California and the old county jail! There's zip-ling in the hills and gold panning to try, making a welcome break for the kids on route in or out of the park. We rate the Charles Street Dinner House for a hearty, delicious lunch or further down the highway-49, stop in Coulterville and have a cold beer at California’s oldest saloon!