Yosemite Vacation Planner

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Our Vacation Planner Guide is full of great tips and ideas of Things to Do all over Yosemite. Start planning your Yosemite vacation today!

Text of Yosemite Vacation Planner

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    WELCOME TO MARIPOSA COUNTYNestled among natural monuments, vineyards, and historic Gold Rush landmarks, Mariposa County is more than just Californias gateway to Yosemite National Park. Alive with possibility, its a world-class destination for all seasons that inspires curiosity, refreshes the soul, and proves that you dont need to be rich to live life to its fullest. The simple pleasures here are closer than you thinkless than a tank of gas away for most Californians. Theres a lot to see, but this county is not just for viewing from a distance. It invites you to approach and experience it first-hand. It engages all the senses, including the sense of wonder. If youve ever felt caught up in the daily grind, standing among giant sequoias and impossibly high waterfalls has a way of putting life into perspective. If you can hear Mariposa calling, you should answer.

    Its said that Yosemite offers the experience of a lifetime, but it would take several lifetimes to discover all the treasures that await you there. We hope that this planner will help you find them and inspire all kinds of ideas.


    In your travels through Mariposa, you might hear it referred to as the Mother of all Counties. Thats not meant as a boast. When California was granted statehood in 1850, Mariposa County was by far the largest county, comprising about one-fifth of the state. (It was later subdivided into eleven additional counties.) Soon after, the discovery of gold lured prospectors by the thousands, all with dreams of striking it rich. The easy gold only lasted for a couple of decades, but it lasted long enough for roads and railroads to be built. Communities evolved even as the local economy was shifting to quartz mining, ranching, farming and logging. Todays visitors will find many remnants from those early days, from preserved landmarks to obscure ruinsall of them a testament to the countys fascinating past.

    With Yosemite in Mariposas backyard, tourism played a role as far back as the 1870s, though it didnt really take off until automobile travel did too. Nowadays, about four million people visit Yosemite National Park each year. As they make their way through Mariposa County, they enjoy a surprising variety of landscapes, events and activities. Over the years, the county has become host to a wide variety of popular annual festivals. Whichever month you arrive in, youre bound to find something fun going on.

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    Mariposa County, home of Yosemite National Park, is known for its picturesque scenery, welcoming locals, charming & historic foothill communities, annual festivals, and of course, great outdoor recreation. The climate is also welcoming, with mild summers and winters, colorful springs and falls, and sunny skies most days of the year.

    Yosemite and Mariposa County draw people from all walks of life. Thrill seekers come for the white water rafting and world-class rock climbing. Nature enthusiasts marvel at the variety of wildlife, from delicate butterflies & wildflowers to majestic eagles nesting among sequoias. And many visitors enjoy feeling as though theyve stepped back in time. In Mariposa County, youll find many historic landmarks, few franchises and no traffic lights.

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    ABOUT YOSEMITEYosemite National Park has the unique ability to amaze, charm and surprise, no matter how many times youve been there. Many people visit, yet few ever see the place in its entiretywhich would take some time indeed. Established as one of the first national parks in October 1890, the protected territory encompasses 1,189 square miles of scenic wild lands in the Sierra Nevada, ranging from 2,000 feet above sea level to more than 13,000 feet. The park is home to alpine meadows, mountain forests, lakes, waterfalls, plentiful wildlife, and groves of giant sequoias. About 3 - 4 million people visit each year, most during the summer, but Yosemite offers real adventure and inspiration for every season and every type of traveler.


    Yosemite sightseeing is all about the great outdoors and everything you can do to immerse yourself in it. Take a quick tour of some of the natural wonders youll find here.

    Waterfalls: Waterfalls are a Yosemite hallmark, drawing visitors from around the globe. Because many of Yosemites waterfalls are fed by snowmelt, the amount of water rushing over each one varies widely throughout the year. Yosemite Falls (Upper, 1,430 ft.; Middle, 675 ft.; Lower, 320 ft.) is one of the tallest in North America and fifth highest in the world with a total drop of 2,425 feetnearly half a mile!

    Rock Formations: Yosemite Valley represents only one percent of the park area, but this is where most visitors arrive and stay. Approximately 3,000 feet deep and less than a mile wide, the valley is known for its incredible rock formations. The sheer granite cliff known as Half Dome is among the most recognized natural features. Rock climbers from around the world come to challenge their abilities on the steep face of El Capitan, though most park visitors prefer to just watch.


    With a keen eye, youre likely to see some of Yosemites thriving and diverse wildlife. One of the easiest animals to spot in Yosemite, the Mule Deer can be found throughout the park, but most often near open meadows. At night, nothing beats hearing the wail of a coyote echoing against the walls of Yosemite Valley. Perhaps the parks most famous (and notorious) residents are Black Bears.

    Some formerly endangered species like the Peregrine Falcon and Golden Eagle are once again flourishing under the watchful eye of the National Park Service. The most common bird of prey in Yosemite, the Red-tailed Hawk, is distinguished by its red and yellow feet.

    The most impressive plant specimen is the Giant Sequoia, considered to be the most massive living thing on earth. In Mariposa Grove, the oldest living tree is known as the Grizzly Giant. Its age is somewhere between 1,900-2,400 years old, and it has a base diameter of 30 feet across!

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    Firefall at Horsetail Falls in February

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    Within the park youll find educational and enriching experiences for all ages.

    Twilight Strolls at Yosemite: Yosemite twilight strolls are easy guided walks to many inspiring locations in the park and are the perfect way to wrap up a day. Late afternoon lighting is beautiful for photos, and you will also discover new insights into the parks natural and cultural history along the way. Theyre designed for all ages and take place from late spring to mid-winter, conditions permitting. You dont have to pre-register or pay a centjust show up at the back porch of The Ahwahnee. The strolls last about an hour, but the start time varies. You can find a schedule for this and many other events and programs in the bimonthly Yosemite Guide available at www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/guide.htm.

    Starry Skies Over Yosemite/Wawona: Go on a cosmic voyage as you lay beneath the stars in a valley meadow. On this heavenly Yosemite experience, youll learn about the moon, the Milky Way, meteors, constellations, comets and all the folklore that goes with them. Starry Skies is offered summer to fall, conditions permitting, at Wawona once a week and in Yosemite Valley several nights a week. Its a great hour and a half for star gazers of all ages. Sign up for Yosemite Valley tours at any Tour and Activities Desk or call 209-372-4FUN.

    NatureBridge: The largest educational partner of the National Park Service. Nature Bridge provides children aged 10-17 with customized, hands-on, educational adventures in the worlds greatest classroom: Yosemite National Park. Offering tailored multi-day programs and a Summer Field Research Course there is a program for every student. To find out more, call 209-379-9511 or visit www.naturebridge.org.

    Yosemite Kids Attractions: Yosemite National Park is definitely a family-friendly destination. The Yosemite kids programs are designed to bring families closer to nature and closer together. Wee Wild Ones features stories, songs, crafts, games and other activities for kids six and under. The Story Time program delivers entertaining storytelling for kids age twelve and under. Ranger Neds Big Adventure is theatrical fun for the whole family. And the Winter Family Celebration offers crafts, nature walks, stories, and general winter fun.



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