We’re happy to invite our good friend Rich in for a guest post giving you some tips on visiting Yosemite Valley. Many have spent years exploring this terrain / campsites and have only scratched the surface. Once you finish reading don’t hesitate to get out there and explore, Rich did!
Summer in Yosemite Valley - by Rich
We entered Yosemite National Park on July 5th, probably the most popular and crowded time of the year to visit the park. Parking in the village is limited, and to make matters worse, most roads are one-way and one-lane. I was told park authorities have purposely created traffic patterns in an attempt to deter single-family transportation for day visitors. We expected and planned for traffic, and I recommend that if you are staying overnight in the park, park your car and don't move it until you leave. The experience started off with a bit of frustration due to the traffic; thankfully, the traffic in Yosemite Village was the only downside to the park.
We had planned to camp for one night in the village, hike up to Yosemite Falls, and camp the 2nd night. To do this, there is a campsite called Backpacker's Camp that allows hikers to stay the night before and after a wilderness trip. It's super cheap, has restrooms, and is a quiet place to enjoy nature and meet fellow hikers. It should be noted though that Backpacker's goes by its name; stays are limited to one night so a backpack is really all the belongings you should bring. On-site parking is not provided, so one should only bring what they need for the upcoming overnight hike.
Yosemite in July is quite hot and humid, and after lugging our gear to the campsite and setting up camp, we were drenched in sweat. The idea of a 3,300 ft., half-day climb to the top of Yosemite Falls with packs didn't figure to be the most fun, so we decided on an alternative plan. Despite how crowded Yosemite Village is in July, we found vacancy at Housekeeping Camp. Housekeeping camp is a pre-constructed campsite operated by the park. A tent consists of 3 concrete block walls with a canvas awning, and 4 bunks. For about $125 a night, we were elated. The campsite has a general store, potable water, individual fire pits, and is located on the Merced River near a sandy beach. It seemed like families stay there from days to weeks straight, and enjoy biking, hiking, floating down the river, and cooking around a campfire.
There are numerous fantastic hikes that start in Yosemite Village, and we chose to work our way up to Nevada Falls by way of Vernal Falls. I was told the falls are so powerful and the wind so strong that the spray drenches you on the hike up. The stories are true. Not only were we drenched, but the air was considerably colder than in the village. As you near the top of Vernal Falls, the trail also turns much steeper and the hike is slow with the crowd. After 1-1/2 hours and a 1,500 ft climb, we decided to turn back, as the remaining ascent was a steep 800 ft. and temperatures were in the 90's.
Our late afternoon was filled with relaxing at the beach and keeping cool in the crisp, fresh river. After a light dinner around the campfire, we decided to turn in early in preparation for our drive home the next day.
Yosemite is a tremendous park to visit in the summer. If you manage to book a campsite, and navigate the traffic, you can enjoy an abundance of hiking, swimming, biking, camping, and sight-seeing. Don't forget sunscreen and bug spray! If you're lucky, you might even encounter a bear.