Suggestions for Yosemite Areas : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm planning a week or so trip to Yosemite in late April, early May. I've been there once and don't want to repeat a lot of time in the canyon trying to duplicate what Ansel Adams and others have done. I know Yosemite is very large, with much more to it than just the canyon, so I'm looking for suggestions for areas other than the canyon. Thoughts about where to stay to be able to access those areas in the early morning would also be appreicated.

-- Brian Ellis (, February 07, 2002



You might be able to get to the Wawona Grove of Giant Sequoias that time of year. You will be able to drive up to the Badger Pass Ski Resort provided you have chains or four wheel drive. The closest places to stay are in Fish Camp. Other than those possibilities you're going to be stuck in Yosemite Valley because of closed roads in the high country.

The drive from Fish Camp to Yosemite Valley on Highway 41 is gorgeous, and full of excellent photo opportunities. My favorite spot at sunset is at the burn area just before you start dropping altitude. You'll see it, and there is a convenient turnoff with plenty of room to park.

Late April/early May is an excellent time of year in Yosemite Valley. The waterfalls will be at full flow, and there will probably dogwoods blooming along the river. But if you want something different, why not skip Yosemite and go to King's Canyon instead?

-- Darron Spohn (, February 07, 2002.

Wow, I wish I was going too!!

April early May is going to be dicey for anything other than the valley. Brian's suggestion about Wawona is a good one, assuming you can find a place to stay. If you are looking for lodging rather than camping, the valley is pretty much it. You may have to settle for early morning hikes out of the valley if you need a room.

If you are prepared to camp (cold, snow-on-the-ground camping) then one might hike into Toulomme Meadows (dang, I can never remember how to spell that one. any help here?)..

Finally, there are so many subjects, perspectives, light changes, etc in the valley, I think you could find something new to photograph there every time one visits. Ansel didn't show up one year, stay a few weeks, and then say, "oh well, that about wraps it up for this valley"....

good luck!!


-- Douglas Gould (, February 07, 2002.

I really enjoyed the drive from Merced into Mariposa. It's the start of the Sierra foothills, and very interesting terrain (sp?). Well worth spending some time photographing this area.

Motels in Mariposa are very reasonable compared to the valley and & in the park. Merced, probably even moreso.

-- Charlie Strack (, February 07, 2002.

I'd suggest checking the road conditions just before you leave. The sierras can be as unpredictable as a baby's bottom. In a normal year, the roads to the high country will probably still be closed, but the icon waterfalls will be roaring. There may or may not be enough snow to go sking or snowshoeing...Badger pass usually closes sometime in March, but offers overnight trips to Glacier Point(the gift store/snack bar turns into a dormitory in the winter) and Ostrander Lake where there is an old stone mountain house. On the other hand, it is quite possible that the Tioga Road might open early, though in a normal year it opens on July 4the weekend.(I've driven it on New Years Day though! You just never know. If it is open, head for Saddlebag Lake, just outside the park in backing up to the Hoover Wilderness. At 11,ooo' Hoover Wilderness its the highest lake inCA that you can drive to. Great scenery! Lots of mosquitos but great scenery. Conness Glacier and lots of good stuff! Have a nice trip!

-- John Kasaian (, February 07, 2002.

I second the trip to Kings Canyon. Better views and less torists IMHO. At Yosemite you'll find a great spot and as soon as you do a tour bus with a thousand tourists swoop down upon you to check it out. Most of the time they will stand right in front of your camera and take the same exact picture as you have in mind. Then it's another half hour for them to loose interest and go on. It can be very frustrating.

-- wdnagel (, February 08, 2002.


My wife and I try to go to Yosemite every year. Other places are great, but their beauty does not detract from that of Yosemite. The place is awesome.

Don't worry about the crowds. Good chance the places you will go are not going to be overcrowded with tourists. You can be alone there, even in the valley, without much difficulty. This is especially true since you are a photographer, and want to be up early in the morning. The casual tourists will still be in bed or eating breakfast. The park can be crowded, but it is not hard to avoid the crowds.

If you stay at the top, near the giant sequoias, consider the Wawona Hotel. It can be a bit expensive, but it might still be off season so prices may be reasonable. There is a campground, and some private cabins for rent nearby, if you prefer that to the hotel.

If the Tioga Road is open, by all means spend some time up that way. It is beautiful. There is another sequoia grove on the way up. You will see Tenaya Lake, and if the road is really open you will be able to go ouside the park to Mono Lake. I think that there is a lodge and campgrounds up that way, but not sure when they open.

Don't forego the Valley. It should be nice, especially during the week, when it won't be as crowded as during the weekend. Even if you avoid the grand scenics, there are many opportunities in the details.

Check out (yosemite organization), (yosemite concession services-they run the lodging and camping facilities inside the park, excluding the private cabins), and (live on-line image of Half Dome).

My Dad, Father-in-Law, and I are going in early March for a quick 2 day trip. I can't wait. A week or so will be a great trip. Have a wonderful time.

-- Dave Karp (, February 08, 2002.

Do you ski? If so, the backcountry is incredibly beautiful, and you won't be tripping over other people all the time. I think the southern half of the park is more magnificent than the northern, which I find a bit more "intimate", relatively speaking. If the road to Tioga Pass is open (from Lee Vining, won't be open from the Valley) try skiing (or snowshoeing) out of Tuolomne Meadows. The problem with the Valley is that it is difficult to get anywhere from there in winter unless you're equipped (skis or snowshoes), and if you are equipped, you might as well skip it altogether and go straight to the high country. You can't really do the Valley and the high country by car since you'd have to go a looong way around (Interstate 70) to get from one to the other. Camping, OTOH, will get you exactly where you want to be early in the morning. If camping is out, try staying just outside the park in Lee Vining (if the Tioga pass road is open) and just getting up early. Actually, just about anyplace in the Eastern Sierra would be just gorgeous, the trick is to find open roads. Just keep an eye out for weather and avalanche danger reports (but if you ski-tour, you already knew that).

-- dave t (, February 08, 2002.

Isn't it hard to duplicate Ansel's work if you go to Yosemite? That man has lived and visited Yosemite more times than any of us.

If you don't want to camp, there are some cheap (well, cheaper than Yosemite Valley's prices) hotels located 5-10 miles outside the entrance on 140. If you would like to camp, go for Camp 4. It's $3. If it says 'FULL', which it often does when I go, you can probably still find an empty part of someone else's site. We've often stayed around Curry Village till 9 or 10 PM, then we come in to the camp and sleep under the stars. If you get up early, pack up, and be on your way, you can avoid the $3.

Personally, I believe the time I hiked up to Cloud's Rest was one of the greatest trips to Yosemite I had ever had. My family keeps getting on my case about wanting to go so often, but there so much of it that you can't get it all in in one weekend.

-- Mark Wiens (, February 08, 2002.


-- Jeffrey Scott (, February 08, 2002.


One April years ago I managed to backpack to Merced Lake (13.0 miles from Happy Isles; 3000 foot elevation gain) without serious problems with snow. But it froze hard overnight and the lake was partially ice-covered in the morning. Great shots here and along the Little Yosemite Valley, which is reached only by those willing to hike up from the Valley floor. The ice cone at the base of Yosemite Falls will still be visible if you can get close enough with a camera. Don't forget the talus slopes, rustic architecture, and deciduous trees (e.g. oaks) not found at higher elevations. If you've been to the Valley only once, you've still got a lot to discover, esp. if you're willing to get off the beaten path.

Years ago we took our cross-country skis up to Badger Pass on the park bus. Why not take your LF outfit? Easy access to late winter/early spring conditions at high elevation? Man, that's hard to beat!

Why are you concerned about "trying to duplicate" the work of AA and others? You're the one who decides whether to try or not. When I'm next in the Valley, and it'll be with our 8x10, we're going to shoot El Capitan, Glacier Point, Bridalveil Falls, and all the rest, and I'm not in the least worried about duplicating anybody, since we'll be bringing our own personal, unique approach to the task. Nobody owns YV (or any other subject). And to hell with the (self- appointed) Image Police! Enjoy your trip. All the best, Nick.

-- Nick Jones (, February 09, 2002.

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