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Call 209-372-0200 ext 1, then 1 again for California road conditions inside the park.

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(enter "41" or "120" in the text box, or for any California road conditions)
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Announcing the 2014 schedule
for the
Yosemite Series of Photography Workshops!

Phil Hawkins
Award-winning Yosemite photographer for 28 years

The finest photography workshops in Yosemite;
week long and weekend workshops in all seasons!



(6/7/11) Yosemite National Park announces three changes to the way visitors make camping reservations...

This is hard-core!  Major changes in dealing with your campground reservation.



The Official Announcement- "Over the next several months, rangers in the Valley and El Portal will be conducting targeted speeding enforcement aimed at reducing speed-related traffic issues on the roadways.  Speeding vehicles are the greatest threat to people and wildlife in the park.  Moreover, this effort is in response to requests from the community indicating a desire for increased speed enforcement to better provide for the safety of pedestrians, motorists, and wildlife.  Citations will be issued where warranted. Remember that the people who use these roads most often are your neighbors, coworkers, and friends; help keep them safe by driving defensively and in compliance with all posted speeds and regulations.

Targeted speed enforcement is a proven effective method for achieving these goals.  By publicizing these enforcement and education efforts, the National Park Service believes motorists can be deterred from speeding. Additional area specific reminders are outlined below."
(Ed. Note - That's Yosemite Valley and El Portal- duh.

Editor's Note- I can tell you from personal experience that Wawona will be in this list...  It has always been a speed trap and will continue to be so.  OBSERVE THE SPEED LIMITS!  This is one thing that Yosemite Law Enforcement does not take lightly.  They are hard-core and will stop you even if they THINK you are speeding.  I was recently stopped on the portion of highway 41 south of Tunnel View and accused of doing 50 mph in a rather curvy area in which it is physically impossible to be going that fast.  I was definitely doing maybe 40 or so, but not 50 as he said.  We had a rather contentious exchange, and he let me off with a warning, but then came back and said "You've had two warnings up here in the last 18 months" (true) !!!  They KNOW you driving history in the park before they even pull you over. 

Now, having said all this, most of the time if your driver's license, insurance and registration is in order and you were not driving over 10mph over the limit, and you have nothing outstanding (failure to appear, etc.) they'll give you a warning.  But that's not guaranteed, so best thing is to just watch your speed

One spot in particular to watch yourself is coming out of the tunnel at Tunnel View.  Speed enforcement is really needed here, as people come FLYING down that hill and come out the tunnel through those cross walks at 40 and 50 mph.  I have witnessed an LEO sitting in the parking lot catching people left and right coming out of the tunnel.

In addition, something needs to be done with speeding employees after shift changes.  At 9pm cars are speeding toward Oakhurst and El Portal at breakneck speeds.

The Man is watching!


Thinking of climbing Half Dome?

Read this article appearing in Saturday's (7/7/07) San Francisco Chronicle: Go Here


Bear-proof food canisters MANDATORY in the backcountry!

The Park Service announced revised wilderness food storage regulations in an effort to reduce the number of incidents of bears obtaining food from backpackers in Yosemite’s backcountry. Yosemite’s Bear Council endorsed this recommendation by Chief Ranger Steve Shackelton. Bear-proof canisters are required within seven linear miles of park roads. This includes the Wawona Road (Highway 41), the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120 West), the Tioga Road (Highway 120 East), the Glacier Point Road, the Hetch Hetchy Road, and the Lake Eleanor Road. Bear-proof canisters are required within one-half mile of the shoreline of Benson Lake and above 9,600 feet (above tree line). Yosemite National Park still strongly recommends backpackers use approved bear canisters throughout the wilderness.

A map delineating the new wilderness areas requiring bear canisters can be viewed at Within the green shaded areas, backpackers are required to store food items, items carrying food scents, and toiletries in bear canisters.

National Park Service approved bear canisters are available for a minimal rental fee from wilderness centers, some concession outlets, and the Hetch Hetchy entrance.

Approved bear canisters for 2010:

  • Bearikade Weekender MKII (1766 and higher) and Expedition MKII (1766 and higher)

  • BearVault 110b, 200, BV250 and BV300

  • Purple Mountain Engineering (PME) Tahoe Model (conditionally approved)

  • CounterAssault Bear Keg (conditionally approved)

  • Ursack TKO 2.0 Hybrid (conditionally approved)

  • BearVault BV350 and BV400 (conditionally approved)

Approved panniers (for stock use):

  • DeCarteret Aluminum Stock Panniers

  • Berner Bear Box <

  • Bear Aware Panniers

  • Bear Country camping (conditionally approved)


Winter Driving Reality!
If you are planning a winter visit, please read below...


You will not be allowed to proceed without chains or 4-wheel drive. Many people attempt to ignore this admonition, but this friendly-but-serious ranger will make you turn back. In the 20 minutes I stood taking pictures, many angry, expletive-spewing people were turned back. If you do not have 4-wheel drive... can let these enterprising gentlemen install your chains for a fee of $25. Actually, this is money well spent; these guys know what they are doing, which will save you much pain from flapping pieces of chains chewing away at your wheel wells or fender paint, or worse, chains coming off. Plus, they work fast and you don't have to get out and get cold and wet and frustrated.

PS: You would not believe what these guys have to go through to get a permit to operate. They must pass a test of installing all the different kinds of chains available. Then, pay a fee... but during a major storm these guys clean UP!.


Chain Designations and Highway Condition ratings:
R-1  Park signs read "AUTOS & PICKUPS SNOW TIRES OK". This means chains are required for all vehicles unless they have snow tread tires. (4wdr without snow tires must chain up.) Snow tires must have a minimum tread depth of 6/32 of an inch to be legal. Studded snow tires may be used if the tires are also rated as snow tires, if not, the tires need to be chained up. (Studs do not replace chains!)
Any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 lbs must chain up. (Usually, large vans on up.)
All vehicles, including those with 4-wheel drive with snow tires that are towing trailers must have chains on one drive axle of the vehicle.
If the trailer has brakes, it must also have chains on one axle.

R-2   Park signs read "4W DRIVE WITH SNOW TIRES OK". This means that chains are required on all vehicles. The exception is four-wheel drive vehicles with snow tires on all four wheels. (This is for all 4-wheel drive passenger vehicles with an unladen weight of 6500 pounds or less)
The 4wdr system must be engaged!

R-3  Park signs read "NO EXCEPTIONS". This means that chains are required on all vehicles. There are no exceptions. (Yes "ALL" means four-wheel drives too.)

Remember, State Law requires you to carry chains in your vehicle when entering an active chain control area. Tire traction devices can be link chain, cable chain and/or spider straps.


The weather can change quickly; it was 80 degrees and sunny two days before this shot was taken, April 8, 2001. During Spring, be prepared! 

This is at the 4,000 foot elevation, just before you get to Fish Camp


...and then there's this photo taken at the Yosemite National Park boundary on April 21, 2001 on Highway 41. Now, this snow melted rapidly, but for about an 18 hour period chains were required between Wawona and the valley. During the night many people were turned away by the Highway Patrol roadblocks and had to go back to Oakhurst and get a motel room. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CHAINS until about the first of May.  


(vwf) :-(