Yosemite Trip Compilation Part 1Author: Judy P. (More Trip Reviews by Judy P.)
Date of Trip: January 2001
Take some playing cards, books, magazines, and games. (Don't forget pens and paper to keep track of your high scores, or even dice and chips if you're wishing you went to Vegas instead).
Most cabins will have checker/chess boards with 7% of the pieces missing ... and decks of 49 or 50 cards.
Take a pair of binoculars for viewing scenery or wildlife or particularly good-looking mountain people.
Always wear comfy walking shoes.
Whenever you leave the cabin for the day, be sure to take a jacket and an umbrella. Some of the points that you'll be stopping at are quite cold and windy, and you never know when rain might happen!
Make sure you have tire chains if it's winter. The rangers will make you put them on if there's snow. The law says you must carry them while traveling during winter.
When you're at the cabin, the night before you go into the valley, you may want to plan/pack for a picnic lunch to eat somewhere along the river. (Perhaps at the Swinging Bridge picnic area in the Valley -- there are picnic tables there, and toilets, but beware, only pit toilets.) Or just picnic anywhere. Take a blanket with you so you can enjoy sitting on the dirt next to the river. And plenty to drink. (Don't forget the bottle opener or corkscrew. Are there laws regarding outdoor alcohol consumption? Does anyone care?)
I like to have a picnic lunch one day, and the next day have lunch at Degnan's Loft pizza place near the Valley Store. (See below -- The Valley Store, Day Use Parking, Food, Cash, etc., in the Valley.)
As many times as I have been there (30, 40, 50?), I always tend to feel lost in the valley. The mountains are so high around me, and there are so many trees, it seems like you just keep seeing the same things over and over. Hello!! That's because the streets in the valley are just a loop. If you take a wrong turn or want to go back to something, just keep going and eventually you'll get there again. No big deal. Unless you leave for one of the other main highways at the west end of the valley. The scenery is always awe inspiring -- no matter how many times you see it!
Bathroom facilities: As you stop at places around the valley, you never know if there's a pit toilet or flushing toilets. Here are some pointers: (Personally, I HATE pit toilets and would rather wait for a flush one!)
There are no bathrooms on the 45 minute drive into the valley (well, a pit toilet very soon after you leave the cabin, at the Wawona Campgrounds).
If you need to go to the bathroom in the valley, there are flush toilets located next to the Valley Store, at Yosemite Lodge (off to the right around the corner of the check-in desk), and at the Ahwahnee Hotel. If you're in a hurry for one, park at the Valley store, (or have someone drop you off in front of the store), run through the store to the back side of the store, exit, and turn to your left. There's a hamburger stand and a rest room. That's your best choice for a "quick," flush bathroom.
If that bathroom is being cleaned (seems to happen quite frequently), go back towards the store. As you were leaving the store, instead of turning left, walk straight towards the road, turn right on the walkway just before the road, walk 30 or so, then turn to your right again when you see a pair of buildings parallel to each other just down the way. Another restroom is in the main wide walkway between the buildings (to the left). There's also a soda machine there in the middle near the bathroom. (This bathroom is usually cleaner, warmer, and less crowded than the one next to the hamburger stand.) Both of these bathrooms are good-old flush toilets.
The nearest bathroom at The Ahwahnee is upstairs on the second floor, in the corner near the dining room. Far away from the front door and the bar. Dumb place for a bathroom. Desperately running from the bar, across the lobby, and up those stairs is not fun!
A note about phones: Very often cell phones do not work in Yosemite -- no antennae in national parks. A few pay phone locations: In front of The Redwoods main office, at the Wawona Hotel behind the lobby (just outside to your left), in front of the Village Store in the valley, and just before the entrance (outside) at Degnan's Loft pizza place in the valley.
Entrance to the Park
When you approach the south gate, prepare to be charged $20 for a one-week pass. Hold on to that receipt; you'll need to show it when you leave the park. (They usually staple it to the map that they give you.) They will give you a map and a little newspaper. The newspaper may have some interesting things for you to do or see.
The Redwoods cabins will not let you check in till 3:00 p.m. So if you're early, there are some things to do in the general vicinity to bide your time.
The first place you may want to visit, just inside the gate is:
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