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The Rough Guide to Yosemite National Park (Mini Rough Guides) Paperback – 30 May 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Rough Guides; Poc edition (30 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185828886X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1858288864
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 1.5 x 14.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,531,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"The Rough Guide to Yosemite" is the premier handbook to California's spectacular national park. Features include: evocative accounts of every natural wonder, from the sheer face of Half Dome to the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove; firsthand advice on exploring Yosemite up close, whether hiking, biking, kayaking, or just taking a scenic drive; detailed reviews of lodges and campgrounds, in the park and the hinterlands; and colour photos, plus detailed maps showing every sight and major trailhead.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Start early. It’s best to visit the most popular sights, particularly Lower Yosemite Fall and Bridalveil Fall, before 9am when the low-angled light brings out the best in the scenery, and wild animals are at their most active.
Get off the beaten path. The vast majority of visitors never stray more than a twenty-minute walk from their car and only visit the most popular sights.
Stay out late. The hour or so before sunset is usually spectacular and "golden hour" is no time to be in a restaurant or your hotel room.

With so much to see and do in the Park it’s hard to pick favorites; what follows is a brief list of some of the most popular and worthwhile sights and activities. With half a day to play with, aim for the Valley and stroll to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls, hike some or all of the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall, and gaze up at El Capitan from El Cap Meadow.

If you have a full day, you could also walk to Mirror Lake, visit the Yosemite Museum and Indian Village, and, if driving, admire the late-afternoon views from Tunnel View on Wawona Road then continue to Glacier Point for sunset and the stars after dark.

On a two- or three-day visit, in addition to the above, hike either the Four-Mile Trail, Half Dome Trail, or Upper Yosemite Fall Trail, and make side trips to Tuolumne Meadows and Mariposa Grove near Wawona.

You can visit the Park at any time of year, even in winter when the waterfalls turn to ice and the trails are blocked by snow. Unless you are here for winter activities, choosing the best time to come to Yosemite depends mostly on whether you’re here for hiking or viewing waterfalls. Summer is generally dry with occasional thunderstorms; spring and fall are more variable, with Valley temperatures peaking in the seventies. Winter means snow but often with sunny days and highs up into the fifties.

May and June are fairly popular months, particularly in Yosemite Valley where the waterfalls are the big draw. While lowland snows should have melted by this time, throughout May and early June the high country is likely to be off-limits with both Glacier Point Road and Tioga Road still closed by snow. The Park is at its busiest in July and August when daytime temperatures in Yosemite Valley and Wawona are regularly in the eighties and nineties, and the rivers and lakes are (just about) warm enough for swimming. This is a good time for hiking since almost all the high-country snow has melted. If you don’t mind missing most of the waterfalls, September and October are excellent months to visit, with smaller crowds, most Park facilities still in operation, and plenty of hiking in cooler weather and on dry ground. In October, the Valley and Wawona both put on a decent show of fall colors. November is more marginal, with snow storms likely and the high-country roads usually closing early in the month. December through March witness cross-country skiing and skating in full swing; tire chains are generally required. By April, Wawona and the Valley may well be free of snow, but late storms are not uncommon. With a few lowland exceptions, April is too early for much hiking.

Traveling outside peak summer season also offers rewards, with rooms easier to come by and prices markedly lower. Even in winter you can stay in budget tent cabins fitted with heating stoves, and low-country campgrounds remain open.


Hikers, of course, have special needs (see on p.97), but all visitors should dress in layers to be able to peel off or add on clothing as conditions dictate. Sunblock, a hat, and insect repellent are pretty much essential, as is a flashlight, since even in Yosemite Valley artificial lighting is kept to a minimum. Shops in Wawona, Tuolumne Meadows, and especially the Valley, stock most things you’re likely to need.

Prices for accommodation, restaurants, tours, and incidentals are fairly high in Yosemite, and those on a brief visit might balk at the $20 entrance fee (though if you arrive by bus, you don’t have to pay it). Outside the Park, costs are much the same as you might expect in rural California, though accommodation is still on the pricey side, especially in the peak summer months. In contrast, much of what you’ll be doing in Yosemite is free. Scenery costs nothing, and many of the most picturesque spots in the Valley are accessible by the free shuttle bus. If you are tackling overnight hikes (for which permits are free) then you can camp in the backcountry for no charge. In addition, the Park Service runs numerous free ranger programs, and much of the evening entertainment comes gratis as well. In winter there’s even a complimentary shuttle bus connecting the Valley with the Badger Pass ski area.

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