Favorite Yosemite Spots: Olmsted Point

Clouds Rest, Half Dome and the Moon

Photo by Chris Publiski

Milky Way Over Clouds Rest

Photo by Chris Publiski

As part of an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite places of Yosemite community members and park visitors. Olmsted Point is a favorite spot of Chris Publiski, who lives and works in Yosemite Valley. Recently, Chris joined some friends to capture night sky photography from the top of the dome located across the road from the Olmsted Point pullout on Tioga Road. “As the sun set and the tourists started to leave, it was exciting to think we were sticking around. The first few shots I took were of the moon making its way towards the horizon. As it was a full moon, I couldn’t capture too many stars. I still got a pretty good shot of Clouds Rest and Half Dome in the moonlight. Being on top of the dome at night was so amazing. Being able to look up at the night sky, and have the ground drop on all sides around you and seeing nothing but stars was so beautiful. I’ll never forget that. Knowing we were up there and no one else knew it as they drove by was kind of like being on top of the world.”

Olmsted Point is a lookout in Yosemite’s high country, located on the Tioga Road, also known as CA Highway 120. From here you can see Cloud’s Rest and look down on Yosemite Valley with an alternative view of Half Dome. Actually, you see the rounded side of Half Dome instead of the flat face that is the most famous view looking up from Yosemite Valley. The turnout for Olmsted Point is frequented all summer long as visitors make the trek from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows or vice versa. Surrounded by granite slabs and breathtaking views, it provides the perfect rest stop for your journey through the park.

Olmsted Point was named for Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect perhaps best known for his design of Central Park in New York City. However, Olmsted’s influence on Yosemite National Park is significant. In 1864, while overseeing mining property in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, the governor of California appointed Olmsted as chairman of the Yosemite Commission. His 1865 report, “The Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees: A Preliminary Report”, established precedent as the first interpretation of a government’s duty to preserve public lands for its citizens. This in turn laid the groundwork for the creation of state and national parks.

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Favorite Yosemite Spots: The Happy Isles Fen

the_fen_sign

Photo by Michelle Hansen

As part of an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite places of Yosemite community members and park visitors. The fen is a favorite spot of Michelle Hansen, who lives and works in Yosemite Valley. “Over the years, I have come to appreciate the little things about Yosemite Valley. The big things like Half Dome and Yosemite Falls are so ridiculously big that the small wonders get overlooked. I enjoy taking a visitor through a natural treasure like the fen and pointing out why it’s special. The fen doesn’t feel like any other place in the Valley and the shades of vivid green always knock my socks off!”

the_fen_boulder

Photo by Michelle Hansen

What is a fen? According to the National Park Service at Yosemite, a fen is a peat-forming wetland that is fed by moving groundwater (as opposed to peat bogs, which are formed by rainwater). However, that dry description doesn’t begin to capture the lush green of this Yosemite Valley wetland where plants and animals thrive. Fens are not common to dry summer climates like that of the Sierra Nevada, so this two acre wetland just west of the Happy Isles Nature Center in Yosemite Valley is an extremely unique part of the California landscape. This particular fen is fed by water in the form of snow melt from Glacier Point. In the spring, shining ribbons of water streak the face of the Glacier Point apron as the water trickles to the valley floor, feeding the water-dependent environment of the fen.

the_fen_fern

Photo by Michelle Hansen

Formerly, this fen covered about three acres of the Happy Isles area in two distinct arms. But in 1928, the National Park Service created a parking lot on the eastern arm of the fen, using river sand to fill the boggy wetland. In 2002, park ecological restoration staff rehabilitated much of the fen to an approximation of the site as it existed one hundred years ago with native re-vegetation, removal of river sand fill and protective split-rail fencing. The existing boardwalk through the fen contains interpretive signs describing the ecology and restoration, as well as providing a pleasant place to stroll on a warm summer day. The trail through the fen can also provide sightings of plants and animals uncommon in Yosemite, like horsetail, lady ferns, song sparrows and tree frogs.

the_fen_boardwalk

Photo by Michelle Hansen

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The Diving Board: Project Yosemite’s Favorite Spots

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In an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite Yosemite places of filmmakers Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty, the creators of the stunning Yosemite HD time-lapse video that became a runaway favorite online with over 3 million views on Vimeo.

The Story

Colin: “As I approached the west side of Half Dome a heavy fog rolled in. I followed Sheldon’s faint outline up one last hill to the Diving Board where we’d spend the night capturing time lapse. When I reached the top I dropped everything and tried to gather my breath but when I saw the view I jumped right back up. We were in mid air, or at least it seemed that way. Clouds were all around us. Soon after our arrival Half Dome started to emerge as the clouds retreated down its face. We rushed to set up our camera gear as the clouds churned between the walls of the Valley. When I first saw Ansel Adam’s photo of Half Dome from the Diving Board I knew it was something I had to see. Honestly no photo could have prepared me for what we saw in the weather that day.”

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Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

The Diving Board is a rock outcropping just west of the smooth vertical face of Half Dome, and the location of one of Ansel Adam’s most famous Yosemite photographs, “The Monolith”, taken in 1927. Cantilevered at a 30 degree angle, from this vantage point you can view Yosemite Valley 3500 feet below. Glacial erratics are found near this distinctive formation, attesting to the glaciation process that sculpted the Diving Board into this particular configuration that inspires such a whimsical name.

 

Read more about Colin, Sheldon and Project Yosemite.

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Cloud’s Rest: Project Yosemite’s Favorite Spots

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In an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite Yosemite places of filmmakers Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty, the creators of the stunning Yosemite HD time-lapse video that became a runaway favorite online with over 3 million views on Vimeo.

The Story

Colin: “Of all the places I visited Cloud’s Rest offered the most spectacular panoramic view of Yosemite National Park. I didn’t know which direction to point my camera when I reached its summit. While up there I was constantly shooting time lapse. I arrived at sunset and continued shooting all through the night as the Milky Way rose followed by the sun. I decided that morning I had enough food and water to stay up there for another sunset. I spent the day taking naps and trying to match peaks I saw off in the distance to those marked on my map. As sunset approached I readied my camera equipment and slid the last memory card into the camera. As the sun dipped lower over the horizon the sky transformed. First the sky changed from blue to yellow then a deep orange and finally the darkest red I’d ever seen. I couldn’t believe it. “

Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

At an elevation of 9926 feet, Cloud’s Rest not only provides some of the most spectacular views of Yosemite, you can even look down on Half Dome from the summit! This massive granite formation is known to most park visitors as the backdrop at Olmsted Point on the Tioga Road. Making the hike to the summit will also provide views of the Clark Range, the Cathedral Range and Matterhorn Peak. One of the finest specimens of Yosemite’s glacial geology, the Cloud’s Rest Northwest Face is a stunning 5000 foot drop into Tenaya Canyon in Yosemite Valley. You can access the trail to Cloud’s Rest from both the Tioga Road (Hwy 120) and from Yosemite Valley at Happy Isles.

Read more about Colin, Sheldon and Project Yosemite.

We’re collecting more pictures and stories about favorite Yosemite spots. Keep checking back for more.

Curry Village Gift and Grocery Store Re-Model

Curry Village Gift Remodel

Curry Village Gift Remodel

Just in time for spring camping season, the Curry Village Gift and Grocery store in Yosemite National Park has been remodeled with updated offerings in grocery, basic camping supplies and park souvenirs. On March 22 after a month-long closure, the store re-opened with a brand new look enhanced by improved lighting and a reconfigured sales floor with more space to shop. The focus of the remodel emphasized environmentally-friendly measures including the re-purposing of display fixtures, energy-efficient lighting and eco-friendly flooring. Updates include LED lighting that is compliant with California building and energy codes for increased sustainability, as well as stained concrete flooring that eliminates the need for carpet.

Campers and hikers will find an expanded grocery section featuring more fruits and vegetables along with snack foods, beer, wine, and camping needs such as bagged ice, charcoal and firewood. Park visitors will find Half Dome “I Made It To The Top” souvenirs have been updated with a vintage-style look and spring souvenir t-shirts featuring Yosemite’s bears. Located next to The Mountain Shop in Curry Village, the gift and grocery store will continue to feature updated offerings throughout the summer season. Reservations for Curry Village are still available for the summer. To learn more information about Curry Village or make a reservation, visit  Yosemite Accommodations.