Free this Weekend!

What's New — By petedevine on January 12, 2012 at 5:17 pm

All national parks that charge an entry fee are FREE to visitors for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday weekend.  The usual entry fee is $20 per car, no matter the number of passengers; that fee is good for a week of coming and going.  Compare this with $22/person to go up the Empire State Building or $80/person for a day in Disneyland.  Yes, we pay taxes that support our national parks, but more users means more demands on the park to take care of facilities, natural resources, ranger programs, etc.   Paying $20/car/week is a bargain in many ways. 

Zamboni cleans ice rink, as seen from Glacier Point

Some of the gate receipts stay in Yosemite for specific projects that improve the visitor experience and the rest goes to other national park units that don’t collect entrance fees – both good causes.  This weekend you’ll have a chance for 100% of your money to go to Yosemite projects.  Volunteers from the non-profit Yosemite Conservancy will be collecting donations at park entrances.  If you want to help Yosemite, here’s an easy way to do so – just hand a volunteer the entrance gate fee you’d normally give to the rangers; all of these donations go straight into Yosemite projects via the Conservancy.   Get a brochure from a volunteer and learn more about this helpful agency; they raised about $8 million in donations for otherwise unfunded park needs in 2011. 

If you’re headed to ice skate on Tenaya Lake this weekend, beware the effects of recent warm days on the ice.  Be careful near edges and in places that have been in the sun all day.  Do NOT take your dog out on the ice.  Wildlife and the environment come first in a national park – not pets.  More than once recently visitors have been disturbed to find dog poop out on the ice of Tenaya Lake – yuck.   Dogs in Yosemite must be on a leash and can’t leave the pavement or a campsite.  They can’t romp in meadows, go along on trails, and they can’t go out on frozen Tenaya Lake with you.
The weekend’s weather will continue the remarkable mild and dry pattern; no snow or rain is forecast any time soon.  Days will be in the 50’s in Yosemite Valley, sun will be warm.   Nights will be frosty.  Our December in Yosemite was one of the driest on record, and the first half of January has had zero precipitation.  There’s almost no snow, our ski area is mostly grass, and the waterfalls are running low.  Most trails are open, but the stretch of the Muir Trail below Nevada Fall is closed by ice build-up.  Above 7000′ or so you’ll find a thin veneer of icy/snow on shaded trails – this makes walking a little tricky.  Trekking poles will help with your stability in these slippery conditions.
Come celebrate our equality and freedom in Yosemite, a park for all people. 

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