Yosemite's Future

March 25, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
If the recession has downsized your family's annual out of town vacation plans there is a more close to home valley destination might that could fill the bill.You will have to start planning soon though. Yosemite National Park is very popular summer spot and this year, thanks to Mother Nature, over night overnight accommodations are shrinking. But what a treat it can be for the day, for the night or a long camping adventure.

When we rolled through the famous Tunnel Overlook on Hiway 41 it was officially Spring but this week Yosemite National Park week was under a blanket of high sierra Winter. In any weather, this view is breath-taking. The park's Acting Superintendent, David Uberaba agrees. "It's been gorgeous here everyday, I mean, even today, quite a transition from last week, but now's the time to come."

The day was sunny and clear so Mother Nature's dusting of early spring snow left few problems but dodging the melting snow crashing down from the trees. Still her handiwork can drop far more dangerous debris. That was the case last October at Curry Village when two rock falls rained down tons of rock and debris on cabins and tent cabins and sent visitors scrambling.

While some progress has been made in anticipating such rock falls under certain weather related conditions there seems to be no way to accurately predict when one or more will occur. The only thing that is for sure is that they will continue to fall. Greg Stock, the park's geologist told us, "From the perspective of trying to keep people safe from rock fall, the better strategy is to keep them out of harms way." Stock is studying the impact of the Yosemite Valley's twin forces: the granite walls that unpredictably shed rock and the Merced River running through it. "Every few decades it will produce a pretty huge flood and in some areas of the valley the rock fall zone and the flood zone overlap so that makes it very challenging to find an area that is suitable for overnight accommodations."

That was the case in January of 1997 when several areas where hotel rooms and campsites were literally under six to ten feet of water. It was determined that rebuilding in these areas was not a good idea. And in the last decade the Park's two formidable natural forces caused the permanent closure of nearly six-hundred hotel rooms, cabins, tent cabins and campsites. Keeping visitors happy and safe can be a difficult challenge everywhere in Yosemite National Pars says David Uberuaga, "We're trying to balance our overnight accommodation use with back country use and just having a great day visit."

No such caution or plan existed in the early days of this national park says the man running the overnight accommodations for the Delaware North Company, "Gosh, in the 30's about 30 thousand people would sleep overnight in Yosemite." Jensen explains that in 1992 eight-thousand people could overnight and wake up in Yosemite Valley. This summer that number will be 5-thousand. And while many of those beds are booked as much as a year in advance Jensen says last minute cancellations do open up, "Basically it's plan ahead, be persistent and check for cancellations...if it's easier to just pick up the phone and talk to somebody that opportunity is always there." You can check out the National Park Reservations website to see if what you want is available and if not call the toll free number to check with a real person. Jensen says updates on availability are sometimes more up to date on via phone. Be prepared for a wait for someone to talk to.

The good news is there are hundreds of rooms and campsite overnight accommodations just outside this unique valley in the neighboring communities in Madera, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties. Again, lots of website access to those communities is there to be explored as well.

As for day tripping in the nation's crown jewel of its National Parks, well, it worked for this reporter and her photographer. Dennis Silvas and I found a few hours surrounded by astounding scenery a real refresher course in how nice it is to stop and look around. The surrounding scenery is really something to see!

WEBSITE LINKS --- beware of sites that are not affiliated with the National Park Services they charge additional fee Yosemite National Park Reservations ? Delaware North Company Official Concessionaire website

http://www.yosemitepark.com/ACCOMMODATIONS.ASPX


Overnight Accommodations Reservation Line (801) 559-4884

Yosemite National Park Camping Reservations

For camping reservations, visit the National Park Service website for tips and instruction, the Reservation Website to make a reservation, or Campground Reservation Line (877) 444-6777.

A few Madera, Mariposa & Tuolumne Counties Accommodation Connections:

Madera Partners in Tourism
http://www.yosemitethisyear.com/chambers.html

Mariposa County Chamber of Commerce
http://www.homeofyosemite.com/

Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau
http://www.thegreatunfenced.com/

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