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YOSEMITE late June 2011 trip report: CROWDS, Waterfalls, and SNOWBALLS!!!

YOSEMITE late June 2011 trip report: CROWDS, Waterfalls, and SNOWBALLS!!!

Old Jul 7th, 2011, 05:37 PM
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YOSEMITE late June 2011 trip report: CROWDS, Waterfalls, and SNOWBALLS!!!

YOSEMITE Late June 2011 Trip Report: CROWDS, Waterfalls, & Snowballs !!!

I just returned home last week from our first 3-generation family trip to Yosemite National Park. We spent 5 nights in a rental house called “Ahwahnichi Lodge” in Yosemite West in late June 2011. (Don't confuse this rental house with “The Ahwahnee”, a famous hotel in the valley.)

Ahwahnichi Lodge is a rental house in Yosemite West, which we rented for 5 nights through Scenic Wonders. It's a beautiful house, but there is noisy construction right next door to the house, with heavy machinery operating! The construction ruined the atmosphere in the daytime in late June during our stay. The construction isn't finished, and there are signs of other construction in the Yosemite West area. (MORE details about our lodging later in this report.)

Yosemite West is an area with privately owned homes & cottages available to rent. Take CA 41 for 12 miles north of Wawona and turn left when you see the small sign for Yosemite West. Entrance to Yosemite West is near the road to Glacier Pt. There are also other rental homes in Yosemite West which aren't managed by scenic wonders.

In my opinion, Yosemite West is NOT a good location to stay during the crowded summer from late June onwards, because there aren't any shuttles nor any public transportation from Yosemite West...therefore you must drive into Yosemite Valley and find parking and face the 2-hour traffic jams in the summer, if you want to see Yosemite Valley and the waterfalls. If you hit traffic jams both ways you could be stuck in traffic for 4 hours each day, especially on the summer weekends!!! (Note: Traffic in early June sounds like it's much lighter than late June traffic.)


Overall my experience of the stunningly gorgeous Yosemite National Park was disappointing. Yosemite Valley in late June 2011 was crammed with 2-hour traffic jams all day from about 9:30 am til 7:00 pm., with a major parking shortage. The valley was most crowded on Friday and Saturday. #-o Understand that once you drive into the valley, you cannot escape...you are stuck in your car for hours until you can either find a parking spot or eventually escape the valley after hours of being stuck in traffic on the 1-way roughly circular route through the valley. If you do get a parking spot, you will get stuck in another traffic jam when you leave the valley, unless you wait til after 7:00 pm to leave.

We think Yosemite Valley should be car-free, especially in the summer. More shuttles, please! Come on USA, we can do better than this!!! Build parking lots somewhere outside the park or at least outside the valley...and put on more shuttles. OR limit the number of people in the valley by making visitors apply for a permit.

This is the first time I have failed to find PEACE in nature! )-: The waterfalls in Yosemite were full, gushing, powerful, stunning...but Yosemite Valley in late June 2011 this year was NOT a peaceful place.

Joyful bonding moments: We did have some joyful bonding experiences as a family in Yosemite National Park. Therefore to help others, I will try to share what worked and what failed miserably for us. I hope this helps others. If you are headed for Yosemite in high season (late June & onwards in summer)...please plan around the crowds better than we managed to!

Keep in mind that according to the Frommers guidebook, 95% of all visitors to Yosemite National park head for the valley, which is only 1% of the park by area. (I have both Fodors and Frommers guidebooks.)

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Old Jul 7th, 2011, 06:08 PM
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GLACIER POINT: Go early or late in the day!!!

The views from Glacier Point are amazing! The road to Glacier Pt. is close to Yosemite West. We enjoyed the drive to Glacier Pt. at sunset and again in the dark one night. There was plenty of parking at sunset and at night. There is also plenty of parking at Glacier Pt. early in the morning at 7:30 am. (BRING flashlights and a warm jacket!)

When you drive to Glacier Pt. in the dusk or dark, there can be a lot of deer crossing the road. DRIVE THE SPEED LIMIT! You don't want to hit a deer (or a bear).

Glacier Point was inspiring, beautiful...and peaceful... Yes it was one of my few peaceful moments in the trip! Loved it.

Remember, drive to Glacier Pt. early in the morning or late in the day...otherwise the parking lot can fill up in summer.

Ladies: be warned: the toilets at Glacier Pt. were the dirtiest ones we saw in the entire park. But there is a clean toilet on the main road, just before you make the turnoff onto the Glacier Pt. Road.


Three of our men had a wonderful day hiking the Panorama Trail in Yosemite. The panorama trail is 8.5 miles one way and it begins at Glacier Pt. We called this the “Man Hike” day because none of us women wanted to go! The men left our rental house in the Yosemite West area bright and early at 7:30 am. They drove to the Glacier Pt. Road which is close by Yosemite West. They easily found parking at Glacier Pt. this early. They left their car there and hiked all day, ending in Yosemite Valley. We women picked them up in the valley and drove them back to our rental house.

The men had a fantastic day hiking the Panorama trail, and they saw rainbows at the Illouette Falls. Note that we women had to face the traffic in order to drive down into Yosemite Valley to pick up the men as the Man Hike day was a Saturday, a very bad traffic day in late June.

I think there might be a bus or shuttle to Glacier Point from the valley? I'm not sure but you could look into this. As I mentioned there is NO transportation to anywhere from Yosemite West.


On the day of the man hike, we women had a slow morning at our rental home. )-: Next we drove down to the valley around noon... AH!!! Terrible idea! We were stuck in the car for 2 hours in a terrible traffic jam with my 2-year-old granddaughter.

We managed to find a parking spot in Curry Village. But we couldn't locate the “East Valley Floor” walk described on page 10 of the Falcon guidebook “Best Easy Day Hikes Yosemite National Park”. We even asked for help from an employee in the valley but she said the directions were confusing to her as well.

After getting nothing accomplished...we let the 2-year-old out of the stroller and amused ourselves as she collected pinecones in Curry Village area, and since she insisted on darting right in front of many bicyclists, we had to snatch her out of the path repeatedly. We agreed this was the FUN part of this day, really!

Finally it was time to head back into another traffic jam to drive out of the valley. We found we had no cell phone reception near Curry Village for some reason, so we couldn't meet up with the rest of our party, who were picking up the men at the end of their man hike.

That was an entirely wasted day for me!

It's kind of depressing for me to realize I'm writing a trip report about a trip that SHOULD have been amazing, but most of my memories of the trip are marred by stress caused by things like traffic jams etc. I keep thinking of how much more relaxing our trip to Switzerland was last June/July. (My husband and I spend 11 nights in the Alps in Berner Oberland in Switzerland...no traffic jams in Murren & Wengen, car-free villages!)

WATERFALLS in Yosemite Valley:

BRIDALVEIL FALLS and YOSEMITE FALLS are gorgeous and wet and full during our June 2011 visit. They are easily visible from just a few steps away from the road. Yosemite Falls are probably the most full and powerful waterfalls I have ever seen, easily.

However...I find myself plagued with the oddest feeling that I have cheated...because access to the waterfalls was too easy... Well, traffic wasn't easy...I paid my dues by sitting in traffic... BUT I feel like I need to walk a few miles to see such a gorgeous waterfall. Somehow for me, the waterfalls need to feel more "isolated", so that I can feel like I've found a hidden treasure. THEY ARE AN AMAZING TREASURE! But they are far from hidden. Does this make sense to anyone at all?!


The mist trail to vernal falls was one of our family hikes, where our sturdier few went further along the path...and the rest of us just went part of the way up. I personally didn't go far enough to get totally drenched. This walk was exhilarating...and perhaps I felt as if I'd accomplished something because it was more work to get there.

Ladies: When you reach the vernal fall bridge, there are TOILETS and water. All the ladies waiting in line for the toilet were discussing the fact that this trail had so many people in June that it's a good thing there were toilets, because there wouldn't have been any privacy at all to try to "go" anywhere along the trail!!!

HIKING AWAY from the CROWDS is the best plan to enjoy peace in Yosemite in the summer. HOWEVER my 2-year-old grandbaby was with us on this trip, and therefore all of us couldn't make the longer hikes, but we were able to start out together, usually.

MORNING people are wise to get an early start in Yosemite in the summer. However I personally wasn't able to get up as early as I had hoped, as I found myself too stressed to sleep well. We also had 3 generations all in one rental house...8 of us...and everyone agreed having to prepare every meal wasn't the most relaxing kind of trip to take, at least, not for us.

HIKE AWAY FOR MILES in the early morning and I think you can still enjoy Yosemite in the summer. I'm not in as good shape as I was several years ago, as I've just gotten over bursitis of the hip and capsulitis of the foot, so for me, it wasn't possible on this trip to do a long 8-mile hike. But if you are up for it...go for it!

RAINBOWS at Illilouette falls along the Panorama Trail:

The "man hike day", which I mentioned earlier...was an 8-mile hike enjoyed by the men. They got an early start and parked at Glacier Pt. and hiked down to the valley along the Panorama trail. They had a fantastic day, including seeing multiple rainbows at Illouette Falls!

They chose this hike because it was one of the few longer hikes still possible...in June 2011 this year, some of the longer hikes were impossible due to snow. Be sure to check with the Wilderness Center in Yosemite Valley about trail conditions on any longer hikes you have planned...they are very helpful.

I wondered and worried about this before I went on this trip. My answer is, only if you wish to get soaked. You can always stop on the trail when you are just getting a bit misted...or you can move forward and get soaked...it's your choice. Some people wore rain ponchos. I'd suggest you need shoes with good traction, and a spare pair of shoes in your car or room in case your shoes get soaked.

You could be hot in the valley...and then freezing when you hike up closer to the waterfalls! It's amazing how much temperature difference there can be. Respect this water...it's freezing cold and moving very very fast! Nature is powerful in Yosemite.

My 2-year-old granddaughter didn't like the freezing wet atmosphere that prevailed when you get close to the waterfalls. My son-in-law wrapped her from head to toe in his long-sleeved shirt until only her blue eyes were peaking out. So cute! Daddy's girl....

I hope this trip report helps summer travelers get a realistic idea of what to expect from Yosemite National Park in the summer, from late June onwards. This way you can make your own decisions about what might work for you.

TIOGA PASS & the High Country (east Yosemite):

Head to east Yosemite over the Tioga Pass. Where else in California in late June can you watch your son throw a snowball at the back of your son-in-law's head?
There was still lots of snow in the high country at the east end of Yosemite...over Tioga Pass. We drove twice from Yosemite West to the high country...once in the middle of the trip, and again at the end of the trip.

The high country is gorgeous...you are up very high, up to 10,000 feet, and I personally found hiking up that high very difficult...the altitude affected me...I think it was a mistake to take a decongestant...it made me dizzy & nauseous... But due to the snow still on the ground, too much hiking was impossible in the high country.

But we all found the high country over Tioga Pass just gorgeous!!! I laughed when my husband said one scene was so beautiful it reminded him of a Coor's commercial. This must be a "man" thing as I don't recall the commercial.
The high country was so beautiful that we wanted to stop at every turn in the road. There were people up there, but we always found a spot to pull over...there weren't any traffic jams, so I thought it was more pleasant than Yosemite Valley had been.

Someday I'd like to return to Yosemite in July, and go in the east entrance, and just stay in the high country...and skip Yosemite Valley. I think the altitude will make hiking a challenge for me, but I do find the high country is calling me back. Keep in mind that Tioga Pass didn't open til around mid to late June this year due to late snow!

My favorite part of the high country was the most eastern portion, east of Lembert Dome. If you are doing Tioga Pass as a day trip from Yosemite Valley or from Yosemite West, I'd recommend you be sure to drive all the way to Lee Vining...don't stop short before you turn around, as there are many memorable views between Lembert Dome and Lee Vining.

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Old Jul 7th, 2011, 07:23 PM
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Well, sorry that it was so crowded. We went the third week of May last year and found it crowded then, but certainly managable. Never really had to wait in line traffic. But we didn't get to see Glacier Point or and of Tuolomne Road because to much snow at that time.

I always stay "in park" when going to a National Park that has a lodge. It just works out so much better, IMOP. Plus, with a two year old you do have to be flexible or do things in shifts.

Try Lassen Volcano, Still a lot of snow there even in Late July last year. Not nearly as crowded. We thoroughly enjoyed both parks.
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Old Jul 7th, 2011, 08:25 PM
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I agree with you about the crowds and the closeness of the waterfalls from the parking area too. I was expecting to walk more to get to both Bridalveil Falls and Lower Yosemite Falls.

I just recently wrote our trip report too as we just got back. We only spent two days at Yosemite though. We really enjoyed the hike at Sentinal Dome by Glacier Point Road. It took a while to accomplish, great scenery along the way and lizards too which my son loved, plus the benefit of much fewer crowds. There were people at the top and plenty of snow too but not like the Valley. We stayed in Oakhurst and had quite a drive into the Valley but we were expecting that from where we were staying. It was just convenient for us and it was close to Mariposa Grove--also overrun with tourist buses this time of year. I also commented on the pungent odor of the toilets at Glacier Point. That one was clearly the worst of them. Mariposa grove not so bad.
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Old Jul 7th, 2011, 08:28 PM
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Of course meant to say, not as many people at Sentinal Dome as there were at the Valley. There was no snow in the Valley. I hate when I don't proofread first.
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Old Jul 8th, 2011, 11:40 AM
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spirobulldog: Thanks for recommending Lassen Volcano. I'll look into that...we haven't been there yet. I hope you get to see Glacier Pt. and the high country over Tioga Pass on your next trip to Yosemite. People who were in Yosemite even just a couple of weeks earlier than we were seem to be reporting fewer problems with crowds. However Tioga Pass didn't open til mid-June this year. I'd love to see Tioga Pass and Tuolumne Meadows someday in July with flowers.

european novice: I'll enjoy having a look at your trip report as well. I'm keeping Sentinel Dome in mind for my next trip to Yosemite. Maybe I will go to Yosemite in either May or early June next time when its less crowded. Or else I'll go in July to the high country and skip the valley.

I'll be back later to post the rest of my trip report.
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Old Jul 8th, 2011, 12:45 PM
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Milissa - the Sentinal Dome hike was the highlight of our all too short Yosemite experience. If you click my name you will find a TR with lots of photos of the Dome trail.

Euronovice - Ditto on the idea of staying in Oakhurst. A place without any charm but our hotel was great and a fraction of the price of the park. The drive to the south gate was only 20 minutes and we thought it scenic.
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Old Jul 8th, 2011, 06:43 PM
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Basingstoke2--I think it was your post that I read that gave me the idea to stay in Oakhurst in the first place. So thanks! Since we were doing a bit of a loop for our total tour and knew we wanted to go to Mariposa grove it was a good decision. We stocked up on gas for the car and sandwiches for us at the Raley's in Oakhurst which were quite good and then continued the drive down into the Valley. We went back to Raley's the next day too. Very convenient to not have to look for a place to eat at lunchtime. I just pulled out the backpack and we ate at the parking areas when we felt hungry. We really didn't spend much time in the Valley. We only saw tunnel view, Bridalveil Falls and Lower Yosemite Falls, but we did spend more time at Glacier point doing the hike to Sentinal Dome and at Mariposa.

Melissa5--The two highlights of our trip were the Sentinal Dome hike in Yosemite and Point Lobos in Monterey/Carmel. Both breathtakingly beautiful! DH wanted to cover the Eastern part of Yosemite and Tioga Pass over to Lee Vining but we did not have time this trip. We want to go back one day to cover those areas and he wants to see Mono Lake too.
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Old Jul 9th, 2011, 04:45 AM
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I like your bathroom reports. You are providing a public service.
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Old Jul 12th, 2011, 02:55 AM
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Old Jul 16th, 2011, 10:31 AM
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Melissa5's Trip Report Continues:


My husband and I found a trail which I believe was called “El Capitan View” trail or “El Capitan Bridge trail”. This trail isn't a Fodors Choice or anything special...which is exactly why we liked it! It didn't seem to be on too many people's must-do list. We didn't see too many people on this trail. We didn't do the whole trail, but we enjoyed a bit of peace while we hiked...the trail isn't too far off the road, and you can see El Capitan as you walk...if you have binoculars you can watch those crazy ambitious climbers who are tiny specks on El Capitan!

So if you come across a trail that ISN'T a highlight or a must-do...perhaps you ought to give it a try...you might find a bit of peace and quiet on a busy summer day.


My husband and I had a dinner “date” just for the two of us at the Mountain Room Restaurant at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Highly recommended by me! Our dinners were delicious and fresh; the view of the waterfall is lovely; and the service was great and attentive. My husband said I was smiling all through dinner!

This was our only dinner “out”. We prepared & cooked all of our other meals at our rental house, Ahwahnichi Lodge, together with our family of 8 people (8 counting granddaughter.)

I enjoyed a glass of good red wine at the Mountain Room Restaurant...Beringer Merlot. I ordered the fresh fish special of the day...it was salmon and it was prepared in a fabulous memorable way. Highly recommended. It came together with potatoes and a veggie succatash which included soy beans & corn and the whole entire entree was spiced in a unique and tasty way...flavorful spices with a dash of spicy. Yum! I can still taste it. We had a good waiter and I asked him what was the best thing on the menu today. He was right!

There was another couple in line who said the Mountain View Food can't compare with New York. Well of course! But considering that Yosemite Valley is in a national park, I thought the food was excellent...and I am picky. I am fond of spicy food as well, living in San Diego.

The Mountain Room restaurant is known for its big picture windows with waterfall view. While the view was pleasant, I felt the view itself has been overrated in guidebooks. We could see a peek of the waterfall through a lot of trees. The view wasn't as I had imagined it.

But the food & the overall experience were great! My husband ordered chicken which was also good, but the salmon special of the day was better.

We arrived at 5:00 pm on purpose at the Mountain Room restaurant even though they start seating at 5:30 for dinner. We were the 3rd party in line. This guaranteed us a good window table and it meant we would only wait 30 minutes. If we had arrived later, we might have had to wait an hour or more.

Since we ate so early, we had time for another stroll to see the Lower Yosemite Falls, and time for a visit to the beautiful Ahwahnee Hotel in the valley.

AHWAHNICHI LODGE: a Scenic Wonders rental house at YOSEMITE WEST:

We rented the Ahwahnichi Lodge, a house which sleeps 8 people in Yosemite West, an area with privately owned rental properties & homes. Various agencies handle the rentals at Yosemite West. If you want Ahwahnichi Lodge, you rent through Scenic Wonders.

Here are web sites for Yosemite West and for Scenic Wonders:

Scenic Wonders and Yosemite West seem to have a lot of fans on tripadvisor. However I personally wouldn't rent in Yosemite West again during a summer trip. The reason is that the traffic jam is so bad to drive into the valley from Yosemite West in the summer...that for summer travel I feel I'd rather stay right in the Yosemite Valley at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls for a few nights...but that has to be booked an entire year in advance!

I would also enjoy staying a few nights up in the high country someday. We visited the high country over Tioga Pass as a day-trip but didn't sleep up there.
I might even consider staying in Wawona someday as I believe they have a shuttle to the valley.

If I were celebrating a special occasion, and booked a year in advance, I might stay at the classy Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite valley.

Here are some pros and cons of our stay at Ahwahnichi Lodge in Yosemite West, rented through Scenic Wonders (read below.)


Scenic Wonders should have told me that there was major construction of a house next door to our rental. There was noisy heavy machinery during the daytime very close to our Ahwahnichi Lodge rental with heavy machinery and a crew of men! We should have been warned about this and a discount should have been offered. I wouldn't have chosen to rent right next to noisy heavy machinery. I like to spend some time relaxing & writing poetry and gazing at the trees around me from my porch while on vacation. Not possible with the construction ruining the peace during the day.


Yosemite West doesn't have enough services for visitors in my opinion. You are isolated with no public transportation, no shuttles, no buses, no restaurants, no ability to have pizza delivered, no stores etc. During the busy summer this is a big problem. (Perhaps during a slower season it wouldn't be so inconvenient as maybe you can easily drive into the valley during slow season. However during the summer you can NEVER easily drive into the valley for anything without getting stuck in a traffic jam!)

Scenic Wonders has a check-in office at Yosemite West which is open 24 hours, but they aren't trained to orient you and give you tourist info. They just hand over the key with minimal instructions. You can call them for toilet paper or automatic dishwasher detergent, and they will bring it promptly, but they aren't trained to welcome you and give you lots of visitors advice. Its very impersonal once you arrive.
Checking out was even more impersonal...no person to talk to. Just dropped our key through a slot in a locked office. I rang the buzzer as I wanted to give the manager my feedback. But the buzzer was answered by an employee's voice who clearly wasn't trained to deal with people. We had trouble understanding each other or even hearing each other over the intercom. He didn't open the door. Eventually I gave up and just dropped the keys in. Nobody asked me how was my stay.

PROS and CONS of AHWAHNICHI LODGE rental: (continued):

--AHWAHNICHI LODGE is very new and gorgeous home. It is a 3-floor house with lots of stone and wood floors plus carpeted bedrooms.

The master bedroom is on the 3rd floor and you get the whole floor including your own bathroom ! I really enjoyed the Master bedroom with a balcony with view of the stars. (If the house nearby turns on their outside lights, it interferes with the star view though.) You can sleep with the screened windows & balcony door open...there is also a good “eco” fan in the room....seems to be designed to keep air clean as well. You will get a quiet night's sleep in the Master bedroom. King bed was comfortable although a little softer than I prefer but still comfortable.

Second floor is the living area...sitting room, full kitchen, big dining table, and even a washer & dryer plus a half-bath with a toilet and sink . Appliances were all new and worked well...although they were fancy electric appliances and we had trouble figuring out all the buttons as we have gas appliances at home. We kept turning on the dishwasher accidentally without any detergent because we didn't know how to work it. (Instructions would have been helpful.)
Kitchen had enough cookware to cook for 8 people, and dishes as well. Electric coffee pot, yes. But coffee grinder...NO! For some reason I thought they had a grinder and I brought some gourmet coffee beans...which I couldn't use until I eventually got the store in the valley to grind them for me. I missed my gourmet coffee for several days!

Downstairs at ground level are the 2 remaining bedrooms, which connect to a sitting area with a futon which can sleep 2 people on a double bed. Technically this equals 3 more bedrooms downstairs and sleeps 6 downstairs...however if you put 6 people down there (we did)...they will be sharing the 1 shower downstairs...and the people sleeping in the sitting area won't have too much privacy. (We slept 6 down there including the 2-year-old grandbaby). IN MY opinion, even though this house technically sleeps 8 people...for maximum privacy I'd suggest you only sleep 6 people total in this house. (2 people upstairs in the master bedroom, and 4 people downstairs on the first floor is ideal, to me.)

The driveway is steep for Ahwahnichi Lodge. The actual part of the driveway that goes down to the street has to be kept clear because it also leads to another house's driveway. So you can't park blocking the driveway. That leaves room for guests to park 2 or 3 cars in the Ahwahnichi driveway, depending on the size of the cars. You can park a car on the street as well...although the manager told me that in the winter it can be impossible to park on the street due to the snow etc.

It was great to have a gas grill and a big table outside on the deck. We had a barbecue 2 nights and sat outside. Our favorite meal was grilling ribs outside and enjoying some beer and wine and a great family conversation. This was a good bonding experience and was one of our favorite memories of the trip. This is one advantage to having a rental house for a family. You get complete privacy during meals...good for family bonding for a 3-generation family.

Yosemite West needs to have some money spent on the surroundings...such as some deep potholes in the road need to be filled in...could damage your car if you hit them wrong... We didn't see deep potholes anywhere else in Yosemite except at the roads within Yosemite West. Somebody ran into a guard rail on a road into Yosemite West...but nobody has bothered to fix it and it looks like it may have been that way for a while. Some attention to improvements in the Yosemite West neighborhood would be nice. Who has to pay for filling the potholes in the roads at Yosemite West? I don't know who is responsible for improving those roads.


Yosemite West accommodations vary a lot! Just driving around we saw a tremendous variation in quality of rentals. There are also some houses with views...ours didn't have a view, unless you count the stars from the balcony at night.
Ahwahnichi Lodge is newer and looks to be one of the best rentals in the area as far as quality goes. If you are visiting in low season and there isn't much traffic, you might really enjoy renting this house. BUT ask about the daytime construction next door...the construction will be ongoing til that house next door is finished! There were signs of other construction in the neighborhood of Yosemite West as well.

We also felt they are building giant houses too close together...so you have a giant house on a lot that is a bit too small for the house in our opinion. Ahwahnichi Lodge is gorgeous inside...but some debris from constructing it was left outside...so you get the idea all the money is being spent on the houses themselves, and not on the “neighborhood improvements”.

Ok I hope those pros and cons will be helpful to you all. Keep in mind...in a lot of Yosemite areas, accommodations don't offer much more sense of privacy than what you find at Yosemite West. I just didn't see my ideal image of the peaceful cabin in the woods in Yosemite National Park. Don't know if it exists in Yosemite National Park at all, really.
I hope this helps you weigh the pros and cons as you make your own decision about whether Yosemite West is the right place for you.

My family of 8 (including grandbaby) did make some happy memories together in Ahwahnichi Lodge, on our first 3-generation family vacation. We were all impressed with how beautiful the rental house was. But we also all agreed it was a bit too much work and a bit too stressful to make all of our meals there, and on our next trip we would prefer to be close enough to order pizza or go out to eat some nights without being stuck in traffic jams. We might also consider an all-inclusive next time...but it depends on the price and location. (Not even sure where we will go next time yet!)

(Coming Up Next: Driving home from Yosemite West to San Diego via Tioga Pass – Mono Lake – Bishop – Best Western Plus Creekside Inn in Bishop -- Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest)
I also hope to post a link to some of our photos soon.
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Old Jul 25th, 2011, 06:58 PM
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Every time I think of giving Yosemite another chance I get turned off.

Yes, something might be missing when a sight requires no work.

But still, the same sight having multiple views leaves something for you to figure out.

I just came back from a trip with my wife to Banff National Park (7/19/11).

While there were a lot of people at the various venues, we never really had a problem parking and enjoying these locations.

Seeing a few bears and big horn sheep were a highlight.

Now, can we see some of your photos?
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Old Aug 8th, 2011, 11:20 AM
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Just returned from a 1-week stay at Yosemite with my 19-year-old son, so here's a slightly different twist. We also stayed at Yosemite West in a small studio with pull-down second bed. It was adequate with full kitchen facilities, but nothing fancy. Would have much preferred to stay in the valley of course, but you have to plan well ahead to do that. I don't disagree with the Yosemite West comments elsewhere - particularly the isolation - including no cell phone. Don't stay there if you have any potential for a medical emergency. However - it has one advantage - it is at the midway point distance-wise for 3 major attractions: the valley, Wawona/Mariposa Grove, and Glacier point. It's about a 1/2 hour drive to each. We went at possibly the worst time of year - 1st week of August. I totally agree about the crowds - the park is projecting 4.2 million visitors this year. Coming into the park via the Route 41 southern entrance Sunday evening we had a 1/2 hour delay getting into the park. Leaving the park on Saturday morning via the same route, we passed a backup of something like a couple miles of cars waiting to get into the park - with more coming all the way back to Oakhurst. However, we lucked out in dealing with traffic in the valley. I was apprehensive about going there on a Monday afternoon, but my son wanted pizza so we went. We parked at Yosemite lodge and took the shuttle to Curry village to eat at the "pizza deck". We didn't encounter any traffic backup in the valley either coming or going; Yosemite Lodge is at the western edge (near the entrance)of the valley. We followed this procedure a number of times visiting the valley and were always lucky enough to find a parking space at Yosemite lodge and use the shuttles. It is handy to get a map that shows the shuttle routes and stopping locations (I got some good maps from Amazon.com).
Other highlights: 1. We rented bikes at Yosemite Lodge and were pleasantly surprised to find the trails quickly became a lot more tranquil than the normal hub-bub of the valley, with pretty scenery. 2. The trail to the top of Vernal Falls is probably one of the most popular hikes, but getting to the top is not easy. It's a 1000 foot elevation rise, which is not tough if you're in pretty good shape. You do see all sorts of people and kids making the hike to the top. 3. In the high country, Tuolumne Meadows has some lovely scenery and the hike to Soda Springs is an easy and very pretty hike through the meadow. My son spent one day at the Mountaineering school there, and loved it.
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Old Aug 8th, 2011, 12:37 PM
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I like Yosemite, but NOT in the summer and NOT when you can't stay in the Valley. Right after Labor Day is a good time to go. Even if Yosemite Falls has dried up, you can do the Sentinel Dome hike that time of year, which is a highlight for me. And as much as Fodorites try to avoid Camp Curry by staying in Yosemite West, I think that is a bad trade-off. When we were kids we loved CC.
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