September 14th, 2011
I will get it out of the way early. I was disappointed with Yosemite. It is a very pretty park, both in and out of the valley. I was warned the valley had all the tourist stuff, and I had expected people there. But the whole park was…not packed I guess but it was more people than I had seen in a national park ever I think. The were on and off the paths, driving foolishly (which I didn’t appreciate) and generally annoying me. And this was after Labor Day and mid-week. The place must be scary on a holiday weekend in the summer.
That said, Yosemite is one of the “Great” parks and even with the crowds it is stunning.
The meadows are high, between 9 and 10 thousand feet. After spending some time there (The campgrounds were, again, full), I rode down into the valley.
The scenery changed a lot as I descended, and it got warmer. There were a number of hiking paths off the road, and one led to the waterfall above. There was no real parking, in fact the cars were backed out to the road by one car waiting for a spot to open. I played the motorcycle card and parked in a narrow unmarked spot.
After some hiking I went to the visitor center, to get a passport stamp and learn more about the park. You didn’t actually park at the visitor center, but in a parking lot about a football field away. There were shuttle stops in the parking lot to take you to the Visitor Center, but I never saw any shuttles. The parking lot was odd too, when you entered you area actually at the far side of the lot from the visitor center. There was the same parking back ups here, with people blocking traffic waiting for cars to back out of spots. I went around when I could, and the further I got into the parking lot the less crowded it became, and of course the closer I was to the Visitor Center. There were no signs, other than parking lot letters. If you go, head for parking lot A.
The Visitor Center is in a little village, containing a grill (closed for the season), deli, a couple different shops, and a post office.
There was this cool topographical map of the valley, which gave a really good idea of how high the Meadows were compared to the lower parts of the park.
Blue making friends.
After staying in the visitor center for a while I confirmed that the campgrounds were still (again) full, the headed out of the park to find somewhere to stay. I was headed for Kings Canyon and the Giant Sequoia National Monument next, but after Yosemite was I worried about what I would find.