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Basic Info   -   First Time Visitors   -    Women traveling alone

Some information about visiting Yosemite...

So - you want information about visiting Yosemite? Well, I am not pretending to be the best authority. I'm just a person who visits Yosemite a lot. So take my advice with that in mind.

First off, I want to dispel the rumor that Yosemite is always overcrowded. I guess it depends on what you consider "overcrowded", for one thing. I can tolerate having to hunt for a parking space for a little bit, I can tolerate having to wait few a few minutes in a line. I'm from a big city, I guess I'm used to it! So - your mileage may vary from mine on the definition of "overcrowded". But in my estimation, Yosemite is not intolerably overcrowded in the "off" season. I have visited in September, October, November, March, April, May - and I can personally say that I did not find it too crowded in these months. (I've never visited in the dead of Winter because even though I have chains for my car, well, I just didn't feel like dealing with that.) But I am sure it isn't very crowded in the Winter either.

In June, July and August, it's crowded. But - not too bad if you go in the middle of the week, which is what I do. (Going in the middle of the week is always a good idea, no matter what time of year.) This may all change, as more and more visitors come to Yosemite. But during my more recent visit, in 2002, it was not too bad.

So, with the "overcrowded" thing covered, the other big thing to consider are reservations. Are you going to stay in the Park? I recommend it. If you are, you need to make your reservations early. Way in advance, at least 3 months. 4 to 6 months in advance is better. This is the Big Secret to visiting Yosemite. It's not so easy to go there on the "spur of the moment". (Though I've done it. You might take your chances if you go way off season, in the middle of the week.) Visit Yosemite Park's site to read more about lodging in the park (and also to make reservations).

One thing to tell you while I'm rambling - if you are hoping to get reservations inside the park at the last minute, try the Wawona Hotel. It's near the South Gate of the Park (Hwy 41) and I keep noticing that it sometimes has vacancies, even when everything else is booked.

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What to do if you've never visited before?

Get a map, to make sure you know how to get there! (Yosemite is in Central California, USA.) I only have driven to Yosemite from Los Angeles, and once from San Francisco. It takes about 5 1/2 hours from L.A., and about 4 1/2 from San Francisco. Read my detailed travel diary about driving up to Yosemite from LA here. (Link will pop up with new window, click to close and return here.)

Be careful about bears! Don't leave ANYTHING in your car! I have seen what bears can do to a car, it's not pretty. They can completely destroy a car. So remove all snacks, McDonald's fast food wrappers, lotions, (anything with a scent) or anything that even looks like it might have food in it. Remove all food containers, coolers (even if empty) or anything that even looks like a cooler from your car! I'm serious. Just be extra careful!

Bring a sweater in the summer. Sometimes, especially in the High Country, it can get chilly. Better safe than sorry. You may even bring a heavier jacket, depending on the forecast.

Bring LOTS of film! Well, look at this site! How do you think I got so many shots of Yosemite? I burned up the film, man! When you are going somewhere so beautiful, don't skimp on film!

Get a Yosemite guidebook, and bring it with you. (Get it as soon as possible, it will help you prepare for the trip!) I recommend starting out with Phil Frank's delightful The Yosemite Handbook : An Insider's Guide to the Park. (If you are in the UK, check out Amazon.co.uk's listing of this book.) It is full of useful information, and is an entertaining read. (There are plenty of other Yosemite books to consider as well, check out my Yosemite Book recommendations page.)

Visit the Yosemite Fun site for more detailed information about what to do if you only have one day to visit Yosemite. The author over there gives better instructions than I ever could. Also, visit Yosemite.org's site for more information about lodging in and outside of the park, and much more. It's a wonderful site. There are more Yosemite links on my Links page.

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Women, don't be afraid to travel alone to Yosemite.

Well, this is just my opinion, once again. But I am a woman who has traveled by myself to Yosemite many times. The secret is to stay on main roads, keep in regular contact with the folks back home, bring your cell phone, watch your back... you know, basic common sense.

Some people seem so amazed that I dare to go alone! I don't really understand why. Sure, I love to travel with family and friends, and I've done that plenty of times. But sometimes it's hard to coerce someone to go when I want to go. And I am not going to miss out on an opportunity to visit Yosemite, just because everyone around me is being a stick-in-the mud!

If you are a woman, traveling to Yosemite for the first time, maybe you'd feel more comfortable hanging around the Valley for a while. It depends on if you are timid about the whole thing. There isn't really any need to be timid. But Yosemite Valley has so much to offer, you can't go wrong with spending a lot of time there!

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Last updated March 25, 2005

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