Yosemite on the cheap



Description:

Muir wrote that anyone who’d gained the blessing of just one day in the mountains would be rich forever. We agree that a camping trip to a national park is an incredible bargain sure to be an enriching investment. You do need $20 to get into the park, but that’s good for a carload of people and counts for a whole week – much less than Disneyland, Burning Man, a String Cheese show, a month of cable or even going to the movies with 3 friends. If you don't have a car, there's public transport (www.yarts.com) that links to Amtrak trains in Merced. At the historic Camp Four you can’t reserve a campsite ahead of time (www.recreation.gov for other campgrounds) so you need to roll in early in the morning to get a spot, especially in spring and early fall. This is the cheapest campground ($5/person!), the one you can stay in the longest – and the most famous in the park. You’ll probably set up camp in your walk-in site next to rockclimbers who’ve come from around the world to satisfy their addiction to vertical granite. The free shuttle to the visitor center gets you started learning about the park’s layout, there are 800 miles of trails to explore, and there are free ranger programs all day and every evening. There is no charge for gawping as long as you want at the world’s fifth highest waterfall, a half-mile from your tent. Groceries are less expensive outside the park so get yours before you come in, then be sure everything that smells like food goes into the bear-proof lockers in the campground. Packing a picnic for your day is the cheapest and most flexible way to go. Don’t buy bottle water - Yosemite’s tap water astonished EPA officials with its purity – just fill a bottle or your water bladder at the bathroom faucet. If you want to splurge on cheap eats, there’s the Food Court at Yosemite Lodge across the street and Degnan’s Deli and Loft Pizza a short shuttle ride away. Besides the great ranger programs in the evenings at the Lodge, you’ll likely find interesting entertainment with your fellow international campers around the campfire at night, or you can take a nighttime stroll out into Leidig Meadow to see the stars that shine brightly in the mountain air.

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Author: Pete Devine


Day 1 - Dunlap, Yosemite National Park, Yosemite


Again, you usually need to get to Camp Four in the morning to get a campsite here. Once set up, the shuttle stop is right across the street. Hit the Visitor Center for basic info, maybe catch the free film, but get on the trail early, too. Free shuttle to the Happy Isles trailhead, then enjoy a fine walk up to the top of Nevada Fall- or as far as you feel like going -it's all paid for, right? If you've earned a meal out, consider the Pizza Loft above Degnan's, where many locals eat. Then catch a free program at the Lodge amphitheater in the evening.


1

Camp 4 Campground

Location:

36273 East Kings Canyon Road
Dunlap, CA 93621

Contact:

tel: 559/338-2251
fax: 559/338-2131
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2

Shuttle Buses

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Location:

Yosemite Village
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Contact:

tel: +1 209 372 0200
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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
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4

Degnan's Delicatessen

Location:

9015 Village Drive
Yosemite Village
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Contact:

tel: 1 209 372 1000
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5

Nevada Falls Loop

Location:

P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389

Contact:

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


6

Yosemite Lodge Amphitheater

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Location:

Yosemite Lodge Drive & Northside Drive
Yosemite Lodge
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Contact:

tel: 801-559-5000
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Day 2 - Yosemite, Yosemite National Park


Fire up the coffee on your campstove, load your daypack with picnic stuff, water and sunscreen and catch an early shuttle (they start at 7 a.m. in summer) to the Mirror Lake trailhead. Walk up canyon and find the Snow Creek Trail, which climbs switchbacks for 2000' up a wall with glorious views. Go only as far as you want; not many people take this route, but it's a beauty. Wind down with a look at what's up in the rotating displays at the Yosemite Museum - often world-class art, but at the price we all like.


1

Snow Creek Trail

Location:

P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389

Contact:

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


2

Yosemite Museum Gallery

Location:

Village Drive & Castle Cliffs Court
(Yosemite Valley)
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Contact:

tel: +1 209 372 0200
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3

Yosemite Lodge Food Court

Location:

Yosemite Lodge Drive & Northside Drive
Yosemite Lodge
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Contact:

tel: 1 559 252 4848
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Day 3 - Yosemite National Park, Yosemite


Break camp and maybe take one last stroll before leaving the park. Head right out of camp, up the Yosemite Falls trail - a mile brings you to the stunning view from Columbia Point. Or just mosey west on the trail leaving the end of camp opposite the kiosk. This'll bring you to the Merced River and Leidig Meadow, or all the way down to El Capitan. Save some pennies to come back for more Yosemite.


1

Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

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Location:

Camp 4 near Shuttle Stop #7
(Yosemite Valley)
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Contact:

tel: +1 209 372 0200
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2

Center Valley Loop Trail

Location:

P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389

Contact:

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


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