Yosemite National Park

 
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Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is located in eastern California on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and consists of 1,169 square miles of wilderness, almost 95% of which the Park El Capitan Service calls “Designated Wilderness”. Yosemite is 195 miles from San Francisco, 315 miles from Los Angeles and the closest city is Mariposa California. Yosemite is a prime tourist destination in California receiving over 3.7 million visitors each year. Yosemite is famous for its sheer granite cliffs, high waterfalls, streams, the giant Sequoia groves, its diverse plant and animal species and its place in the history of the development of the National Park system. 

Beginning about one million years ago, glaciers began sculpting out the U-shaped scenic valleys, such as Yosemite Valley, and cliffs that form much of the unique topography of Yosemite that attracts so many visitors. El Capitan is the famous cliff that overlooks Yosemite Valley. Most of the valleys all seem to have small snow-fed streams running in them during the spring.

Hiking, rock-climbing, tours, camping and picture taking are among the activities available at Yosemite. Probably the best time to visit Yosemite is in the late or mid-spring. The place is less crowded and since many of the falls are snow fed, the fastest and most spectacular flows occur in the spring. There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails available. These trails range from easy quick walks to the challenging. There is a Yosemite Valley Visitors Center run by the Park Service and the Nature Center right next to it.

While most of Yosemite is open only during the spring, summer and fall months, Yosemite Valley is open tear-round. There is currently a $20.00 per car fee to enter the park. Activities such as hiking and Yosemite Valley tours in the Yosemite Valley and the Sequoia Groves are available. Yosemite has a free shuttle system year-round that passes most of the highlight points. Traffic during the summer is generally heavy so be prepared if you plan to visit then.

Campsites are difficult to get and have to be reserved in advance. If you are planning to make a day visit to Yosemite to hike around, take tours or take pictures it is probably best to get a room in one of the nearby towns and drive there early in the day. Some of closest cities with lodging available are listed to the right. These cities are listed from the closest to the furthest away. The furthest cites are about an hour and twenty minutes away depending on the traffic. It should be cautioned that even these places can be booked up in the summer. The summer is the peak season so room rates may also be a bit higher than at other times of the year.
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