Posted by: George | July 18, 2010



Serenity in Yosemite

July 18, 2010 (evening)

Today was a better day.

I went to sleep early and woke up about 4:30. Not on purpose. I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.  So, by about 5:30, I got out of bed, showered and headed to Yosemite.

Ahead of the crowds, I was able to see a grove of Sequoia, drive to Glacier Point, circle down to the valley, and then take a few short hikes on my way out.

At Glacier Point, I talked to two guys (one about my age) who were getting reading to hang glide off the point and fly down into the valley. The older guy said, “It’s the best hike in the park.”

On my way out of the valley toward Hwy 120, I took a few short hikes, just far enough off the road to find a pretty spot with no people. Then, I sat down for thirty or forty minutes to take it in.

At one of these spots, I found a piece of granite near a lake. After I sat there for a while, a couple and their son came up. The man said, “We have to apologize to this man for disturbing his serenity.”

I replied, “It’s hard to disturb in a place like this.”

“Even with a five-year-old?” he said.

“Even with a five-year-old,” I replied.

However, people are becoming a problem in the park.

Yosemite is much smaller than Yellowstone, and it feels more crowded. As I was driving through, I wondered if the Park Service would one day need to limit admissions to national parks by lottery or some other form.

No one wants to talk about this. In Ken Burns’ documentary about the National Parks, he never mentions the crowds, except to cite some statistics on how many people visit the parks.

Americans view the National Parks as their birth right, as well they should. We should also view our parks as a gift to the world.

On this trip out west (my last long car trip out here was in 1996), I noticed far more foreign tourists, especially Germans, Japanese, and Chinese. You do, however, hear many languages as you move through a national park. As economies around the world have improved, more people from these countries can afford to tour America and its parks. I certainly don’t think we should develop an immigration policy for national parks, but foreign tourists are adding to the crowds.

The crowding is most apparent on the roads. You have to walk a ways into a trail to get away from the sound of buses, RVs, motorcycles, and cars. Yosemite has tried to deal with the crowding by providing shuttle service. You can park your car, get on a bus or a trolley (the kind with electric cars that pulls a series of trailers with seats, yes, the kind you saw in Disney World) and tour without a car. While this is a reasonable solution, it does make Yosemite seem a little more like a theme park.

I don’t want to downplay my experience in Yosemite. I had a smile on my face the entire time. It is an amazing place. I am, however, concerned about its future, how we can provide access to all without turning the park into parking lot.

After I left the east side of the park, on Hwy 120, I headed south on Hwy 395 to Independence. I had planned to camp, but I also thought I would still be in the mountains. The high today was about 104. I chickened out and checked into a motel that was probably built in the 1950s. It is a charming place. You just don’t see many motels like this. It is simplier than most chain hotels, but I have everything I need, even WiFi, and it is about $30 cheaper than most chains.

Tomorrow, I will head through Death Valley toward Las Vegas. I may pass through Vegas to Flagstaff and go into the Grand Canyon from there. I don’t know. Maybe I ought to spend a night in Vegas.



  1. The summer we were camped our way to Calif., down the coast, and back to Ark., Death Valley was actually closed. They were telling on the news to cross the dessert with heater on instead of the AC. I thought my Daddy was crazy, but we zipped right across while people were overheated all over the side of the road.


    • I didn’t see anyone overheat when I went through, but on my bad day where I couldn’t find my campsite, despite driving up and down a mountain twice, I did see four different cars/RVs on the side of the road.


  2. Thank you for posting such wonderful experiences. Geo Dad, you have inspired me to blog my experiences here, in London, so I will start that soon. Miss you, be good or if you can’t be good, be good at it. And, yes, stay a night in Vegas, you deserve a wild night. Bet on red, always bet on red 😉


    • I didn’t stay in Vegas. I am home now. Mona and I miss you. Hope all is well in London.


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