Springtime Water Safety

In spring, Yosemite is filled with the sound of rushing water, from magnificent waterfalls, to playful river rapids. These beautiful waterways look cool and refreshing, and can also be dangerous and even fatal.

Today, the National Park Service hosted a special demonstration of swift water rescue techniques in the Merced River near Happy Isles.

Even though it was a relatively dry winter season, the waterfalls and rivers are still deceptively powerful. In fact, with the strength of the spring flow and cold water temperatures, a rescue situation can quickly become a body retrieval.

Please be safe out there!

Here rescuers demonstrate one technique where the rescuer has a safety line to the shore and swims out to the victim. Notice here that both people are in the right position for running rapids, with their feet downstream to protect them from rocks.

Here rescuers demonstrate one technique where the rescuer has a safety line to the shore and swims out to the victim. Notice here that both people are in the right position for running rapids, with their feet high and downstream to protect them from rocks and other obstacles in the water.

Downed trees in a river can be an additional hazard because water flows through them and can pin someone underwater on their upstream side.  Here rescuers demonstrate the search strategies around this fallen tree.

Downed trees in a river can be an additional hazard because water flows through them and can pin someone underwater on their upstream side. Rescuers call these hazards ‘strainers’.
Rescuers demonstrate the precautions they need to take when searching around this fallen tree.

Rescuers often rig elaborate high lines so that a rescuer can safely get out over the water to pull someone out. Here members of the press were given an opportunity to get a bird's-eye view of the search and rescue team in the water.

Rescuers often rig elaborate high lines so that a rescuer can safely get out over the water to pull someone out.
Today, members of the press were given an opportunity to get a bird’s-eye view of the search and rescue team in the water.

Many people are required to manage a high line safely. Thanks again to everyone on the Search and Rescue team!

Many people are required to manage a high line safely. Thanks again to everyone on the Yosemite Search and Rescue team!


Finally, if you think it can’t happen to you, take a few minutes to watch this sobering video. Yosemite is a magical, refreshing and renewing place. We hope you enjoy your visit safely!

Travel Tips for Memorial Day Weekend in Yosemite


Memorial Day is an American holiday commemorating military veterans who have died serving their country. This holiday falls just between spring and summer and often signals the beginning of the summer season for travel destinations. The entire Memorial Day Weekend is one of the busiest travel periods in the United States. The warming weather makes people yearn to be outdoors, and often their favorite places to spend time outside are national parks. Yosemite National Park is no exception. Though all visitors are welcome no matter which dates they choose to visit the park, popular weekends can create traffic and congestion that contributes to a lesser enjoyment of Yosemite. With Memorial Day just around the corner on Monday May 26th, take a look at the following tips to increase your enjoyment in Yosemite over this busy holiday weekend.

1. Arrive Early! Arriving on Friday evening is better than arriving on Saturday morning, but if you must arrive on Saturday, do it before 10:00 am. This is not the weekend for a leisurely breakfast before driving into the mountains. Everyone else will arrive after 10:00 am.  Find a parking spot at your lodging or campground and breathe a sigh of relief since you won’t drive again for the rest of the weekend (See #2). If you are a day use visitor, find that parking spot early and don’t plan to leave until after 7:00 pm. Make dinner plans in the park. Another tool to help navigate the holiday congestion is the Traffic Forecast for Yosemite National Park.

2. Park Your Car (and Leave It Parked) If you have easily scored a parking spot due to your early arrival – do not give it up for any reason! There are many ways to get around Yosemite Valley, including walking, biking, and riding the FREE Yosemite Valley Shuttle Bus (See #3). You can even catch tour and hikers buses for a fee from Yosemite Valley to the Glacier Point and Tioga Road. The Grand Tour will take you around Yosemite Valley, up to Glacier Point and to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Let someone else do the driving!

3. Use the Free Yosemite Valley Shuttle Bus Yes, that’s right, an absolutely free shuttle bus will ferry you around Yosemite Valley to all lodging, campgrounds, Yosemite Village, Happy Isles, Mirror Lake and an extended summer route will even take you out to El Capitan. The shuttle bus is granted a special use lane in Yosemite Valley that is off-limits to other vehicles, guaranteeing a smooth ride to your next destination. Make note of the shuttle route and stops on the Valley Shuttle Map. Not only do buses cut down on traffic congestion, the Yosemite shuttle buses are hybrids – saving energy consumption too!

4. Ride a Bike Yosemite Valley is paved with 12 miles of bike paths and one of them is certain to lead you to your destination. Yosemite Valley also has 2 rental bike stands located at the Curry Village Recreation Center and at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Wave to the cars as you whiz by on a cruiser bike with the wind in your hair.

5. Arrive Early! Didn’t we cover this already? Yes, but it bears repeating. Arrive early for all activities in the park. Renting a bike? Arrive at opening time. Going to lunch at Degnan’s Deli in Yosemite Village? Consider eating at 11:00 am instead of 12:00 noon. Visiting Glacier Point for a half day of sightseeing and hiking? Don’t drive 30 miles in the afternoon only to find no place to park – arrive at Glacier Point before 9:00 am. Alternately, consider sightseeing at off hours: Glacier Point is wonderful for stargazing and the Mariposa Grove is beautiful in the early morning.

Memorial Day Traffic

Other things to consider include exploring some of Yosemite’s less famous but equally beautiful sights such as Chilnualna Falls Trail in Wawona, the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias, and the Wapama Falls Trail in Hetch Hetchy.    Rock climbers tend to avoid busy holiday weekends, so your favorite climbing route may be free and clear. Not a rock climber, but wanting to learn? Try the Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service in Curry Village for lessons.

Interview with Kass Hardy about the 150th Anniversary of the Yosemite Grant

Yosemite Grant Logo

Where was the idea of National Parks born? Right here in Yosemite, June 30, 1864, where the first wild lands were set aside and protected for “public use, resort and recreation. As the entire Yosemite region ramps up to recognize the 150th anniversary of this historic moment, the signing of the Yosemite Land Grant, and other upcoming park anniversaries, Ranger Kass Hardy has been at the center of the planning efforts. Here’s a chance to get to know Kass better, and find out more about these milestone anniversaries. Scroll to the bottom for a video on the significance of the 150th anniversary event.

Can you tell us a little about how you ended up in Yosemite working on planning anniversary celebrations?

From 2008-2010, I was fortunate to work on a similar project for Glacier National Park’s 100th anniversary. While at Glacier, our team learned from other parks who had recently honored an anniversary – like Mesa Verde, Mount Rainier, and Zion. To create a place to learn from one another, we started an informal anniversary working group to ask questions, identify models of programming that worked, and to share successes. A staff member at Yosemite participated on those quarterly calls – and as my term was coming to end at Glacier, they encouraged me to apply for a similar term position at Yosemite.

The Yosemite Grant 150th anniversary is unique in that it is honoring the birth of the national park idea. The amount of history that this incredible landscape embodies is so powerful – and its ability to inspire generations of people is unmatched.

What aspect of the 150th, or this series of anniversaries are you most excited about?

Anniversaries offer us the opportunity to reflect on why places like Yosemite are important. For me, the most inspiring part of the Yosemite Grant 150th project is listening and reading the countless Yosemite stories from visitors, locals, and employees. To me, the Inspiring Generations: 150 Years, 150 Stories book project that the anniversary team initiated and printed in partnership with Yosemite Conservancy is the type of project that anniversaries are all about. Stories promote the essence of why milestones like the 150th are so valuable to our society.

In addition, working on the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service is truly an honor. The projects associated with the 100th are very visionary – and groundbreaking for the service in some regards.

Many of the events are outside the park. What was the rationale behind those decisions?

The story of Yosemite dates back thousands of years – and goes far beyond the boundaries that we have today. We wanted to utilize the anniversary as an opportunity to work with our neighbors to elevate the significance of this milestone throughout the region — and world. Working with our neighbors has enabled us to have over 245 activities on the calendar — and to have them hosted in locations where people who love Yosemite can more easily attend.

It seems like a sense of community is important to you. What are some of the other community-based organizations that you are involved with in Yosemite?

Yes! I have a lot of energy, enjoy being around people, find volunteering extremely rewarding, and love being creative. I very much appreciate communities and especially enjoy being an active member of the Yosemite community. I have been involved in a few of the organizations in and around Yosemite over the last several years – including the Yosemite Employee Association, Yosemite Rotary, Yosemite Winter Club, and youth soccer through AYSO.

Why are national parks important to you?

National parks are important to me because they are our national heritage. They are the places that share the many unique stories of our past – and allow us to experience today’s cultural and natural world. When you take a minute to really think about what that means – it’s truly astonishing.

I grew to love national parks before I knew about the National Park System. Having lived one mile from Saratoga National Battlefield in upstate New York, I was exposed to a national park throughout my childhood. My family took trips to “the battlefield” often. We would learn about the significant history of those grounds, bike and walk the trails, and watch owls for hours at a time. I think due to this exposure as a child, I have a very deep connection to our national parks – and will always have a special place in my heart for our national parks.

Yosemite for Everyone – Rock and Roll Yosemite’s 8th Annual Visit

Part of Yosemite’s appeal is the accessibility of its grand vistas and enormous cliffs. You don’t have to hike for miles to be sprayed by the mist of a waterfall that is hundreds of feet high. Short paved paths lead to many amazing sites making them both stroller and wheelchair-friendly.

The Rock ‘n Roll Yosemite camp run by Access Leisure visited the park for the 8th straight year. From May 14 – 17 participants explored Yosemite Valley by hand cycle and exposed themselves to the thrill of rock climbing during an Adaptive Rock Climbing Session organized by Mark Wellman of No Limits, and with the help of Yosemite Mountaineering School climbing guides.

Climber Sheryl Cooley sets out under the watchful eye of Mark Wellman and a Yosemite Mountaineering School guide.

Climber Sheryl Cooley sets out under the watchful eye of Mark Wellman and a Yosemite Mountaineering School guide.

Climber Abeba Benton is strong enough that she doesn't need the 3:1 mechanical advantage, simply executing dozens of pull-ups to reach the top.

Climber Abeba Benton is strong enough that she doesn’t need the 3:1 mechanical advantage, simply executing dozens of pull-ups to reach the top.

Jim Davis takes advantage of his strong right arm and an ascender on his right foot to climb to the top.

Jim Davis takes advantage of his strong right arm and an ascender on his right foot to climb to the top.

Boysenberry Pie at The Ahwahnee in Yosemite


The Ahwahnee has been serving Boysenberry Pie in Yosemite National Park for over 50 years! Boysenberries – a cross between raspberry and blackberry – make a delicious summer dessert pie especially when served with vanilla ice cream. If you can’t join us in Yosemite for pie this summer, we have included the recipe below. However, we think Boysenberry Pie tastes best when consumed with a view of Yosemite from The Ahwahnee Dining Room.

The Ahwahnee Boysenberry Pie

Makes: One 10” pie

Pie Filling
1 ½ lbs. Frozen Boysenberries
¾ C Sugar
1 ¼ oz Clear Instant Gelatin
Pinch of Salt

In a sauce pan on a low heat add frozen boysenberries and slowly cook for 5 minutes.  In a bowl combine sugar, gelatin and salt and mix.  Add sugar mixture to sauce pan.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Stir often to avoid burning.  Set aside and let cool.

Pie Dough
9 oz Flour (AP Flour)
Pinch of Salt
1 ½ T Sugar
4 ½ oz Soft Butter
1 ½ oz Cold Water (very cold water)

In a food processor add flour, salt, sugar and softened butter.  Turn on and mix ingredients until they are evenly distributed.  Then add water all at once.  Turn off food processor as soon as the dough binds and comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Roll into a ball and refrigerate for one hour.  Roll out dough on counter top and form rolled out dough into 10 inch pie pan.  Preheat oven to 350’F and bake pie shell for 5 minutes.  Roll a top for a the pie and cover with a towel.  Place filling in shell and place top on pie egg washing the pie rim to seal.  Cut 4 slit in the top of the pie and egg wash the top.  Place in the 350’F and bake until golden brown (around 15 to 20 min).  Cool and serve.

Your Yosemite Stories: More Housekeeping Camp Memories by The Craig Family

Housekeeping Camp inspires great loyalty from park visitors. We asked for your Housekeeping Camp memories in the Yosemite in Focus newsletter and the stories keep rolling in! The following was submitted by The Craig Family, demonstrating an example of the multi-generational family memories that are created in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Memories by The Craig Family

“Our memories began in the early 1960s when our parents, Mr. and Mrs. Club, along with friends and family began camping in the Housekeeping Campgrounds every Memorial Day weekend.   Reservations were made for at least 40 families.  This annual sojourn became a necessary part of our lives and absolutely something to look forward to.  All of the fun and amazing experiences we encountered became essential to our lives. We were able to enjoy the majesty of Yosemite for over 25 years.

Back in those days our children were allowed to roam safely on the grounds of the park and explore all of the wonders to behold.  We would hear their joy when they returned from the Indian Caves, the waterfalls, the hiking trails, and admiring the beautiful scenery.  It was so refreshing to be able to wake up to the beautiful sound of water running nearby, and the wondrous fresh air accented by the delicious smell of breakfast being cooked.  At night we were able to see the Firefall which was a beauty to behold. We would go horseback riding and bicycle all over the park.  Our campfire circle as we sung a long list of songs was oh-so-fun on evenings as we celebrated several birthdays with a delicious cake.   One year we experienced every bit of Mother Nature when it rained, snowed, hailed, thundered with lightning, and more surprisingly – the mountains rumbled with earthquakes.

The Craig Family at Housekeeping Camp
This wonderful trip especially became a favorite part of our children’s existence. Now that they are grown with their own families, we returned to our favorite of all time places in 2011 on Memorial Day Weekend. Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal, but the children powered through it and made the best of it.  We will try again so they will know the true splendor of this wondrous park as we did.”

The Craig Family celebrates a birthday at Housekeeping Camp

The Craig Family celebrating birthdays at Housekeeping Camp

Law Day in Yosemite

2014 May Law Day Michelle Hansen

Law Day Yosemite 2014

By Presidential Proclamation, the first of May each year is set aside to encourage Americans to recognize and appreciate the importance of the rule of law in America. On May 2nd this year, the U.S. District Court and the San Joaquin Valley Chapter of the Federal Bar Association sponsored the second annual Law Day Yosemite commemoration at the Yosemite Valley School with a focus on the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act of 1864. The 2014 Law Day Yosemite commemoration hosted an essay contest open to local 8th grade students at El Portal, Groveland, Lee Vining, Mariposa, Lake Don Pedro, Wasuma, Wawona, Woodland, and Yosemite Elementary Schools and Oak Creek Intermediate School. Approximately 250 eighth grade students from these Yosemite area schools gathered at the foot of majestic Yosemite Falls to celebrate the Rule of Law and its contributions to the rights and freedoms of all Americans.

Students gather for Law Day Yosemite 2014

Students gather for Law Day Yosemite 2014

This year’s commemoration emphasized the role of the rule of law in preserving and protecting our national parks. President Abraham Lincoln, Conservationist John Muir, Yosemite’s First Guardian Galen Clark and President Teddy Roosevelt made an appearance to discuss with students their respective roles in creating and protecting Yosemite National Park.  Yosemite’s Law Day commemoration coincides with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Land Grant Act of 1864.  President Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, had the vision to sign an act which established Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove as the first public lands to be protected and preserved for the citizens of the United States for all time. Students were invited to submit essays describing the significance of the Grant Act of 1864; why legislation was necessary to protect places like Yosemite Valley; what Yosemite might have become without such protections; whether and why national parks are important to America; and, how we might inspire future generations to support the idea born of the Yosemite Grant Act. Winners of the essay contest were announced and awards presented at the event.

President Roosevelt, John Muir, Galen Clark and President Lincoln on hand for Law Day Yosemite 2014

President Roosevelt, John Muir, Galen Clark and President Lincoln on hand for Law Day Yosemite 2014

Law Day Yosemite 2014 is a collaborative effort of the United States District Court in Yosemite, the San Joaquin Valley Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the National Park Service and DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite. The event is funded by the United States District Court for Eastern District of California and the Federal Bar Association Foundation. The public is invited and encouraged to attend and show support for the concept and for rural school students who may not have the opportunity to attend city events.




Fishing in Yosemite

Brook Trout

Brook Trout in Yosemite. Photo by Harry Vanderburg.

Stream and river fishing season in Yosemite National Park begins each spring on the last Saturday of April and continues through the year until November 15th. When the Tioga Road opens in the spring – allowing access to Yosemite’s high country – it’s time to catch some trout. Harry Vanderburg works at the Sport Shop in Yosemite Village – one of two outdoor gear stores in Yosemite Valley – and spends much of his free time fishing Yosemite’s rivers and lakes. Harry’s fishing recommendations serve as a beginner’s guide to fishing in Yosemite.

Yosemite Valley

Harry recommends fishing the Merced River near Housekeeping Camp. With easy access to the water, you can catch brown trout here early in the season. Harry also recommends spring fishing on the Merced between Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and the Swinging Bridge picnic area. Once Yosemite Valley fills with summer visitors, it’s best to fish further downriver between Pohono Bridge and the Arch Rock Entrance on CA 140.

Yosemite’s High Country via CA 120 Tioga Road

Two beautiful spots are easily accessible from the Tioga Road: May Lake and Gaylor Lakes. A one mile hike to May Lake provides you not only with the opportunity to fish, but also some of the Sierra Nevada’s best scenery. Just inside the park boundary at the eastern entrance on Tioga Pass, a one mile hike brings you to high altitude Gaylor Lakes. In both areas you’ll land brook trout.

Fishing at Gaylor Lakes in Yosemite with the Cathedral Range in the background

Fishing at Gaylor Lakes in Yosemite with the Cathedral Range in the background. Photo by Harry Vanderburg.

Yosemite’s Backcountry

Hiking into Yosemite’s backcountry is an experience in itself, but what about catching your dinner too? Among the High Sierra Camps, you’ll find good fishing at Merced Lake, a 14 mile hike from Yosemite Valley. Closer to the Tioga Road are Young Lakes, a six mile hike to three small alpine lakes with stunning Sierra scenery. Also on the High Sierra Camp loop, you’ll find rainbow trout at Vogelsang and Fletcher Lakes, a short hike from Vogelsang High Sierra Camp.

Fletcher Lake near Vogelsang High Sierra Camp in Yosemite

Fletcher Lake near Vogelsang High Sierra Camp in Yosemite


Harry Vanderburg

Fishing and camping supplies are available at the Sport Shop, including spin cast and fly fishing poles. Yosemite National Park has special regulations for fishing (see below) and all legal options are provided including barbless hooks. Most importantly, California fishing licenses are sold at the Sport Shop, good for fishing anywhere in the state of California.

Special fishing regulations for Yosemite National Park include:

  • No fish or roe may be used as bait.
  • Fishing from bridges and docks is prohibited.

In Yosemite Valley:

  • Rainbow trout are catch-and-release only.
  • Brown trout limit is five per day or ten in possession.
  • Only artificial lures or flies with barbless hooks may be used; bait fishing is prohibited.
  • Mirror Lake is considered a stream and is only open during stream fishing season.

Learn more about Yosemite National Park fishing regulations before your visit.