Above: Typical Memorial Day weekend traffic in Yosemite. Yes, we get traffic jams, too.
It’s Memorial Day weekend and you’re thinking to yourself, man, I sure want to get out of town. So, what’s open in Yosemite? Here’s a quick rundown of what’s open and some hints that’ll save you a headache.
We’ll start at the top, literally.
Tioga Pass: Open. With these much needed storms passing through during the past few weeks Tioga Pass has been intermittently open. Right now the road is listed as open on one part of the NPS website but closed on another. I’d call the park (209-372-0200 hit 1 and then 1) before setting out. Better safe than sorry I say.
Glacier Point Road: As of right now, also, open. But again, call the park (209-372-0200 hit 1 and 1) before heading out.
Above: Winter camping is the best way to avoid the crowds. Memorial Day? Eh, not so much. Most campgrounds fill up early and you can’t take a step without stepping on someone’s toes.
Camping: All campgrounds are completely sold out in the reservation system. Bet you saw that one coming. There may be some first come, first served left but you’re going to have to get up awful early and beat a lot of people to the kiosk. Most of those are anticipated to fill by this afternoon.
There are a lot of camping and lodging opportunities still available in the surrounding communities, though. If you stay outside the park, leave your car and take YARTS in and then the free Yosemite Shuttle bus around the park. Traffic congestion is always super heavy during this weekend. You can find out more about YARTS by visiting http://yarts.com/
Trails: With the little amount of rain and snow we received this winter all trails are open. You’ll want to be sure to take PLENTY of water as many seasonal water sources are already dry making it hard to find water along some back country trails.
Mariposa Grove: Open! The main parking lot normally fills pretty early so take the free shuttle from Wawona and save yourself the hassle and headache of trying to find a parking spot for 3 hours.
Tuolumne and Merced Grove: Open. Since these two groves don’t get as much traffic as the Mariposa Grove they’re a great place to get away from the crowds. Come enjoy a walk in the beautiful solitude of the Giant Sequoia. Bears frequent both these groves so be sure to clean out your car before heading into the park and lock any food or anything smelly (e.g. lotions, hand cleaner, etc) in the bear locker. Don’t think you’re smart by putting your food in an ice chest and leaving it in the back of your minivan. Bears can smell the food still and they know what ice chests are and equate them with food. Lock it in the bear locker.
Above: Hetch Hetchy offers peace and relaxation without the crowds, Just watch out for rattlesnakes.
Hetch Hetchy: Open, dry, and full of rattle snakes. Ok, that’s just my opinion but it’s widely known that the canyon below the damn is rattle snake hell. A nice stroll around the lake is pretty safe and crowds are few. Just be careful where you step and don’t put your hands or feet anywhere you can’t see. If you do get bit, stay calm and dial 911.