The blooming valleys are majestic in early spring. The senses are dazzled with Dogwoods, White-bark Pine, the massive Sequoia, Black oaks and Quaking Aspen in every direction. The valley starts to come alive after the darkness of winter. Visitors, once again, begin the slow and steady trickle back to Yosemite.
Early spring might seem like an unusual time to visit Yosemite. However, if you have ever had to battle the dense crowds and traffic of mid-July, you understand. Early spring in Yosemite has the best waterfalls. The snow melt flows down from the high mountain peaks and crescendos in a magnificent display. There are many places in the valley to observe waterfalls. There are even large turnouts on the road in that provide spectacular long-range vistas and close up views of smaller falls.
The steep hiking trails are hazardous in March and April, with fast-moving water everywhere. Families still enjoy walking or biking along the miles of paved trails in the valley. It is easy to get around and fun for grownups and kids, alike. Be sure to dress for success: a warm hat, gloves and light jacket are a good choice. The days tend to be sunny and cold.
If you have a pair of binoculars, take advantage of the bird watching opportunities. You will see robins, woodpeckers, Steller jay, grey owls, and mountain chickadees. The extra observant might spot a Peregrine falcon or the red-winged blackbird. The red-winged blackbird has a lovely song. There are over 165 different species of birds in Yosemite Valley.
Getting hungry from all that bird watching and biking? Take a break and tour the historic Ahwahnee hotel or the Pioneer Yosemite History Center at the Wawonee. They are expensive places to stay for the quality of the experience. However, you will want to take a look around and soak in the unique ambiance.
There are many reasonable lodging options, just outside the park grounds. One favorite choice is Tenaya Lodge. It is a wonderful place for families or couples. It is a clean and lovely hotel, located just two miles from the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park. It takes about another 35 minutes to get to the valley floor (where all the action is). The Tenaya has indoor and outdoor pools. There is a spa, ice rink, arcade room, and several on-site restaurants. There are organized kids’ activities, including horseback riding, crafts and gold panning. The rooms are not huge, but they are lovely and clean. They are certainly larger than the State Park hotel facilities. Tenaya Lodge is hands-down a favorite.
During the week of April 22 to 26th, entrance to Yosemite Park is free! This is National Park week and the normal charge of twenty dollars per car is waved. What a great incentive to come during the off-season. Enjoy a romantic couple’s weekend or a rousing family trip. Yosemite has something for everyone.