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Re: Best place to camp?

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Best place to camp?
March 04, 2009 09:09AM
Hey everyone, I am planning a two day stay in Yosemite in late March 24-25th and was wondering if anyone had any advice on where to stay? I looked at the Wowona campsite and loved the Creek sites, but it seems that Upper Pines is the place of choice?

Also, will there be snow on the ground? Will we be able to hike half dome? and will we need chains to get around? Are the bears a problem this time of year?

THANKS!
Alisha smiling smiley
avatar Re: Best place to camp?
March 04, 2009 11:05AM
Alisha,
The Wawona Campground is first come first served this time of year and it is fairly empty in my experience. It is at less than 4000' so the snow isn't very heavy and may be nonexistent by the end of March but be ready for some on the ground where you pitch your tent. If you have an RV then no problems in any case. You must carry chains in your vehicleat all times while driving in the park during the winter season. This year you may need to use them. If you have a four wheel drive with snow tires you probably won't have to put them on. Rarely is there an R3 condition in the park. I would worry more about the icy conditions that set in after the sun goes down. The Sierras are notorious for warm thawing days and freezing nights.

The Upper Pines campground on the valley floor will require a reservation after March 15th and the likelihood of getting a reservation is small but give it a try. It you are tent camping in Wawona then you will have a 30 minute or so car ride to the valley. If you have an RV then things get a little sticky. If you are pulling a car behind your RV then no problems. I'm not sure if there is any kind of shuttle service between Wawona and the valley floor this time of year.

You will not be able to hike to Half Dome but you can snowshoe to there in probably two days each way from the valley floor. Even if you get to the base of the little hump before Half Dome you will have to stop there unless you are looking to die or are preparing to summit K2.

Bears are never a problem in the park. Use proper food storage methods and you will not have to worry about anything. Most bears are in hibernation at this time but some pop out now and then.





Old Dude
avatar Re: Best place to camp?
March 04, 2009 11:53AM
mrcondron wrote:

> The Upper Pines campground on the valley floor will require a
> reservation after March 15th and the likelihood of getting a
> reservation is small but give it a try. It you are tent
> camping in Wawona then you will have a 30 minute or so car ride
> to the valley. If you have an RV then things get a little
> sticky. If you are pulling a car behind your RV then no
> problems. I'm not sure if there is any kind of shuttle service
> between Wawona and the valley floor this time of year.

I checked the availability of Upper Pines for 2 days starting March 24. Most sites are still available for weekdays since it's not even close to being peak season. It's midweek and not quite into April. I scanned to April, and then there's almost no weekend availability and only a few scattered weekday sites. It's rather strange - almost as if there's a psychological barrier that's breached right about April.

http://www.recreation.gov/camping/Upper_Pines_Ca/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=70925&topTabIndex=CampingSpot

> You will not be able to hike to Half Dome but you can snowshoe
> to there in probably two days each way from the valley floor.
> Even if you get to the base of the little hump before Half Dome
> you will have to stop there unless you are looking to die or
> are preparing to summit K2.

That almost happened last week, although it was on the sheer face.

> Bears are never a problem in the park. Use proper food storage
> methods and you will not have to worry about anything. Most
> bears are in hibernation at this time but some pop out now and
> then.

I don't know about "never a problem". Some have noted sneak attacks where they grab and run. I talked to an NPS ranger outside of Yosemite who said that he once camped in Yosemite. He noted that he barely looked away from his cooler when a juvenile bear pounced on it and tried to drag it away before he scared it off. He didn't do anything particularly wrong, but some of these bears have learned to be crafty. A coworker refers to the young bears as "juvenile delinquents".

You do what you can to minimize the risks. Human injuries from black bears are exceedingly rare, but the danger from any particular bear increases the more times they successfully obtain human food.

I took this photo of a bear print in the snow on a late February day.

Re: Best place to camp?
March 04, 2009 12:01PM
The valley should be great that time of year; while the meadows will still be brown, the falls should be big and healthy. Wawona campground is very nice, but quite a distance from a lot of the things you might want to see and do. I don't think you'll have any trouble getting reservations at Upper Pines that early.
https://www.recreation.gov/camping/Upper_Pines/r/campgroundDetails.do?parkId=70925&contractCode=NRSO&chkAg=y

If your visit is fairly certain, I'd suggest going to the site and making the reservation soon though, before things change. Nothing worse than seeing quite a few sites, thinking 'no rush' and then coming back to find nothing. Upper pines is usually not bad as far as crowding until Easter week; be ready for mid-20's at night if you're using tents.

For the rest of the weather, you can have springlike days and cold nights, rain all day, snow, or overcast and foggy, in any combination. There's no way to plan your weather in advance in the Valley in spring, you just set your date and take what you get 8^). Technically chains are required to have in your vehicle until the end of March, and you could indeed need them, especially if you go in over the south Hwy. 41 entrance. Most likely you won't need them, but if you don't have them with you, it can be a problem. Here I am on an April 19 high-tailing it over highway 41 to beat an incoming snow and the need for chains (that was the last time I went in April without taking the chains):
http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/image/47838927

Mike is right about bears not usually being a problem if you do what you're supposed to, but if you're not familiar with the situation, it's easy to overlook things and leave them in your car (who thinks of a child seat that has potato chips, goldfish, and other goodies buried in the cracks, or toothpaste, or handi-wipes?). So clean out the car if you're going in a car, in advance, and make sure everything goes in the bear box. As far as danger, they won't bother you, but of course steer clear of them no matter how unconcerned they seem with you being there, and give them plenty of room.

Bikes are really an asset in the valley; there's a shuttle, but if you have bikes there's a lot more freedom. The shuttle bus runs through the valley from the campground, every 20 minutes or so. There's hot reasonably priced food and a warm place to eat it at the food court at Yosemite Lodge, and 1-hour evening programs....movies, talks, etc. if that interests you. Many trails will be open, you will be able to hike at least to Nevada Falls via the John Muir and Mist trails, and even the hike to Clark Point is a fine one. Upper Yosemite falls may have snow at the top, the four mile trail most likely will only be open halfway up. There's also a loop trail that leaves from Mirror lake that's about 5.5 miles round trip, and the option of going up the Snow Creek trail from there, as far as you like. Should be plenty to keep you busy.





Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
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