One winter day



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Having only one day to see a place as grand as Yosemite could be tragic, except that having any time at all in Yosemite is worth celebrating. If you can come in the winter time, you’re in for a special treat. Though it’s a lot of driving, you can reach Yosemite from as far away as San Francisco for a day trip. Anything further away than Merced, Fresno or Manteca means a 2-hour drive. In the winter, entering the park through Mariposa on Highway 140 is the best way to avoid snowy/icy roads. This day mixes a morning walk, a deluxe lunch and an easy afternoon of a few simple walking stops. It assumes you’ve got the whole day, the weather isn’t prohibitive and that you want to see a bit of everything in Yosemite Valley. The Valley is at 4000’ elevation, so check what the weather forecast is saying for that level and bring appropriate clothing. I always look at the webcams on www.yosemite.org/vryos to see what it looks like in the Valley at any given time. Park at the Day Use Parking in Yosemite Village, fill your daypack with some snacks, water and an extra layer, and just start walking due east towards the unmistakable Half Dome. It’s easy to find trails going your direction, along or across the Merced River, as long as you aim toward Half Dome. It’s about 3 miles of very gradual uphill to reach Mirror Lake. There are a couple of bathrooms along the main route. Watch for dramatic icefalls down the face of Half Dome, get the photo of Mt. Watkins reflected in the water, enjoy the ice formations along Tenaya Creek. Make your way back down the paved access trail/road and keep right at the fork, following the bike path. Just after you walk across a pair of stone bridges, you’ll see the Ahwahnee to the right; cut across and find the immense, luxurious dining room for a delicious lunch. After lunch, take the free shuttle bus from right out front, two stops to the Visitor Center to learn from the exhibits, browse the bookstore and ask questions of the rangers. Then stroll through the adjacent Ansel Adams Gallery to see the famous photographer’s art. If you still have a bit more energy, follow the bike path away from Half Dome, to walk the short, paved loop trail to the base of Yosemite Falls. This quick, easy stroll affords great views and a nice look at Lower Yosemite Fall. From here, the shuttle picks you up and will return you to the Village Store which is only two minutes from the Day Use Parking in Yosemite Village.

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Author: Pete Devine


Day 1 - Yosemite National Park, Yosemite


From Yosemite Village Day Use Parking, you could ride the shuttle bus one stop, change to the other bus and ride this to Lower Pines Campground. Walk toward Half Dome from here, and follow the signs to Mirror Lake. On the return stay right at the fork, watch for the big Ahwahnee Hotel to the right. A deluxe lunch awaits inside. Explore Yosemite Village and finish off with a short walk to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls.


1

Mirror Lake Day Hike

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Location:

Happy Isle Loop Road
(Yosemite Valley)
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Contact:

tel: +1 209 372 0200


2

Ahwahnee Dining Room

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Location:

Northside Drive
Ahwahnee Hotel
Yosemite National Park, CA 95379

Contact:

tel: 1 209 372 1489


3

Yosemite Valley Visitor Center

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expert pick

Location:

P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389

Contact:

tel: 209-372-0200
fax: 209-372-0220


4

Ansel Adams Gallery

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Location:

POB 455
(Yosemite Valley)
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Contact:

tel: +1 209 372 4413
fax: +1 209 372 4714


5

Lower Yosemite Falls Day Hike

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expert pick

Location:

Northside Drive
(Yosemite Valley)
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Contact:

tel: +1 209 372 0200


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