Media & Press


We are always happy to talk to the media and provide as much information as possible. Please feel free to contact our Director of Public Relations & Sales, Therese Williams at therese@yosemitethisyear.com or 559-683-4636.

For media quotes from the CEO, contact Rhonda Salisbury at rhonda@yosemitethisyear.com or 559-683-4636.

Images: Please contact Kim Lawson at kim@yosemitethisyear.com for our image library.

Video: Please refer to our You Tube Channel for our favorite Yosemite & Madera County videos:   www.YouTube.com/YosemiteSierra

In the News

Stay fit and keep off vacation pounds whilst on vacation
Personal trainer Darren Tong of fitness Boot Camp at Bass Lake shares tips on how to stay fit while you vacation.
Published: Aug 16, 2016

Stay fit and keep off vacation pounds whilst on vacation:

  • Research the destination you are visiting for fitness activity offerings and attend a class. You will immerse yourself in the local culture and keep fit at the same time and those pounds at bay.  
  • Pack Your Activity Monitor. Activity monitors keep you honest and motivated to count your steps. Vacation time is usually a time that includes exploring and walking to get to sights which means more steps taken than when you at home. Keep walking, hiking, cycling and swimming at your destination.




  • Select clean food. Make healthy choices such as fresh seafood with salad, steak with salad and a baked potato, try to avoid anything fried. Part of a vacation is sampling local specialties, but best done in moderation.
  • Go Easy on the Alcohol. Alcohol is high in calories therefore try to choose lower calorie drinks such as a vodka soda with a slice of lemon.
  • Pack your technology but minimize time spent on it. Believe it or not, spending too much time on your technology devices contributes to weight gain.

About the author:
Personal trainer Darren Tong of fitness Boot Camp at Bass Lake said, "I have vacationers who attend my class that tell me that they are so glad that I offer Boot Camp at Bass Lake because it helps them keep off the vacation pounds and to keep fit!"
Bass Lake Boot Camp provides an hour-long fitness class with personal trainer Darren Tong, 8 - 9 a.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Sponsored by Bass Lake Boat Rentals (54406 Marina Drive), adjacent to Ducey’s on the Lake. The one-hour class consists of cardiovascular, strength training and flexibility exercises. $20 class and for locals ask about the local rate.

For more information, call Darren Tong from Bass Lake Boot Camp at 626-303-4171.



Read More

Ales and Trails with Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides and South Gate Brewing Company
Ales & Trails. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. Hiking combined with delicious craft beer from our local brewery.
Published: Nov 1, 2016

Ales and Trails. Yes, it is as good as it sounds, hiking combined with delicious craft beer from our local brewery. 

Combining two of my passions, exploring and photography couldn’t be a better week for me plus savouring tasty beer in the afternoons was a spectacular perk! I set out with the Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides (SYMG), South Gate Brewing Company and twelve guests to a high alpine lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness for a four day backcountry mission.  My days consisted of photographing happy hikers, exploring the great outdoors and relaxing to craft brews and gourmet meals in the afternoon.

This was no ordinary backcountry trip. In fact, pack mules brought in ice chests loaded with delicious fresh foods, kegs of beer and camping gear. We hiked in light carrying only what we needed for the day the rest of our gear was waiting for us when we arrived to camp. Our talented guides, Fred and Wilson provided snacks along the way and a wealth of knowledge about the wildlife and fauna around us. We learned the scientific names for trees such as the Lodgepole Pine, or Pinus Contorta, named for its wildly contorted growth patterns. Each year, heavy snowpack pushes the tree one way or another, in the spring it continues to grow up, creating a beautiful and twisted living art piece in the forest. 


In addition to leading expeditions through the backcountry, our guides prepared gourmet meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For example, the first night we enjoyed a delightful salmon dish artfully prepared to impress the taste buds. Another night we enjoyed shrimp tacos paired with a lime wheat beer specially brewed by South Gate Brewing Company for this trip. For breakfast, my favorite was yogurt with granola topped with chopped walnuts and fresh blueberries. 



Enjoying these meals in the backcountry was sublime to say the least. The sight of fresh berries in the early morning next to a steaming cup of coffee, framed by some of the world's most beautiful landscapes delighted me. There is something truly special about enjoying fine food, in a serene setting far from civilization. 



I am excited to share a few of the images I captured along the journey. The Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides sure know how to plan a trip. If you ever have the opportunity to sign up for one of their many adventures, I highly recommend it. It is guaranteed to be the experience of a lifetime.


Read More

Ales and Trails with Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides and South Gate Brewing Company
Ales & Trails. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. Hiking combined with delicious craft beer from our local brewery.
Published: Nov 1, 2016

Ales and Trails. Yes, it is as good as it sounds, hiking combined with delicious craft beer from our local brewery. 

Combining two of my passions, exploring and photography couldn’t be a better week for me plus savouring tasty beer in the afternoons was a spectacular perk! I set out with the Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides (SYMG), South Gate Brewing Company and twelve guests to a high alpine lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness for a four day backcountry mission.  My days consisted of photographing happy hikers, exploring the great outdoors and relaxing to craft brews and gourmet meals in the afternoon.

This was no ordinary backcountry trip. In fact, pack mules brought in ice chests loaded with delicious fresh foods, kegs of beer and camping gear. We hiked in light carrying only what we needed for the day the rest of our gear was waiting for us when we arrived to camp. Our talented guides, Fred and Wilson provided snacks along the way and a wealth of knowledge about the wildlife and fauna around us. We learned the scientific names for trees such as the Lodgepole Pine, or Pinus Contorta, named for its wildly contorted growth patterns. Each year, heavy snowpack pushes the tree one way or another, in the spring it continues to grow up, creating a beautiful and twisted living art piece in the forest. 


In addition to leading expeditions through the backcountry, our guides prepared gourmet meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For example, the first night we enjoyed a delightful salmon dish artfully prepared to impress the taste buds. Another night we enjoyed shrimp tacos paired with a lime wheat beer specially brewed by South Gate Brewing Company for this trip. For breakfast, my favorite was yogurt with granola topped with chopped walnuts and fresh blueberries. 



Enjoying these meals in the backcountry was sublime to say the least. The sight of fresh berries in the early morning next to a steaming cup of coffee, framed by some of the world's most beautiful landscapes delighted me. There is something truly special about enjoying fine food, in a serene setting far from civilization. 



I am excited to share a few of the images I captured along the journey. The Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides sure know how to plan a trip. If you ever have the opportunity to sign up for one of their many adventures, I highly recommend it. It is guaranteed to be the experience of a lifetime.


Read More

Fall May Be the Best Time to Visit Yosemite, Bass Lake and Madera County
Crisp air, clear trails, and less spendy… fall may be the best time to visit Yosemite National Park, Bass Lake and Madera County, depending on your preferences.
Published: Oct 1, 2016

Visiting Yosemite National Park, Bass Lake and Madera County in fall is a fantastic time to visit for many reasons but mostly because you avoid the summer crowds, the kids are back to school and it is less expensive than summer with lodging rates reduced after Labor day. Fall weather is the perfect time to indulge in all your outdoor activities such as seeing the leaves on the trees change color, hiking, mountain biking and indulging in local fall events while enjoying cool mornings, sunny days and star-studded nights.



The average temperature for Yosemite National Park should range from around 40°F at night to 72°F in the daytime in mid-autumn. The higher you go, the colder and more temperamental the climate gets so be sure to wear layers. The South Gate entrance neighborhoods of Madera County expect the highs to be in the mid to upper 70s with nightly lows in the 50s. Rain may visit in October, however, the rain makes for perfect hiking and mountain bike riding conditions because the weather will take those dusty trails and pack them down perfectly.

Yosemite is best explored by foot, park the car and hit the many trails that are designed for all abilities from easy to difficult. In the valley hop on a bike to explore miles of paved bike trails.

You can also experience Yosemite by taking a bus or guided tour and for something breathtaking and memorable take a scenic flight and you can see all over Yosemite.

Biking outside Yosemite in Bass Lake is the true mecca of all things mountain biking. Biking allows you to experience the landscapes from an intimate perspective and makes you feel free.

Below are a couple of our favorite trails.



Biking Trails Bass Lake


Intermediate Trails:
Goat Mountain | Forks Trail - 8 miles round trip. Note: Bike to top of Goat Mountain to the Fire Lookout tower. Watch for poison oak.

Goat Mountain | Spring Cove - 8 miles round trip. Note: Bike from Spring Cove campground to Fire Lookout tower. Watch for poison oak.

Advanced Trails:

Bass Lake - Central Camp Road |Trail 007 - from 3 miles to as long as 20 miles. Note: Best done on a long travel full-suspension bike.

Willow Creek Trail - from 3 miles to as long as 20 miles. Note: This is a double-black-diamond ride best done on a full-suspension bike with at least 5 inches of travel.

Biking Trails Inside Yosemite


Wawona | Swinging Bridge - 4 miles round trip. Note: From the Wawona store, ride out 2 miles on paved Forest Drive to the entrance to the Swinging Bridge area. Park your bike at the entrance and walk the .75 mile round trip to the bridge (and swimming hole).

Wawona | Meadow Loop - 3.5 mile loop. Note: Ride a lovely, forested flat meadow.

Yosemite Valley
| See current Yosemite Guide newspaper for areas where bikes are permitted. Note: Bikes are not permitted on dirt or trails leading out of the valley floor.



The region is buzzing with events during fall.

Fall the time when the big furry spider tarantula comes out and of course, it wouldn’t be tarantula season without a Tarantula Festival. Kids will also love the Halloween Carnival at Bass Lake

Madera is one of the richest agriculture centers in the world, fall brings pomegranates and Madera County puts on the Madera Pomegranate Festival



This fall, join California’s most renowned vintners as they come together in Yosemite to share some of their most acclaimed wines. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to chat with the vintners as you sample their latest vintages and perfectly-aged selections. The elegant event culminates with a five-course dinner featuring dishes perfectly paired to the featured wines. With seven sessions through November and December, the Grand Grape Celebration will make your Yosemite vacation one you’ll never forget.

Of course, autumn is The Bracebridge Dinner, Heraldic horns sound throughout Yosemite National Park's elegant Majestic Yosemite Hotel, calling guests to enter Bracebridge Hall. Come travel back through time to a Christmas of centuries past, where glorious music and sumptuous food are but part of America's best-loved holiday tradition.

Visit our events page for a full listen of fall happenings.

Read More

Fall May Be the Best Time to Visit Yosemite, Bass Lake and Madera County
Crisp air, clear trails, and less spendy… fall may be the best time to visit Yosemite National Park, Bass Lake and Madera County, depending on your preferences.
Published: Oct 1, 2016

Visiting Yosemite National Park, Bass Lake and Madera County in fall is a fantastic time to visit for many reasons but mostly because you avoid the summer crowds, the kids are back to school and it is less expensive than summer with lodging rates reduced after Labor day. Fall weather is the perfect time to indulge in all your outdoor activities such as seeing the leaves on the trees change color, hiking, mountain biking and indulging in local fall events while enjoying cool mornings, sunny days and star-studded nights.



The average temperature for Yosemite National Park should range from around 40°F at night to 72°F in the daytime in mid-autumn. The higher you go, the colder and more temperamental the climate gets so be sure to wear layers. The South Gate entrance neighborhoods of Madera County expect the highs to be in the mid to upper 70s with nightly lows in the 50s. Rain may visit in October, however, the rain makes for perfect hiking and mountain bike riding conditions because the weather will take those dusty trails and pack them down perfectly.

Yosemite is best explored by foot, park the car and hit the many trails that are designed for all abilities from easy to difficult. In the valley hop on a bike to explore miles of paved bike trails.

You can also experience Yosemite by taking a bus or guided tour and for something breathtaking and memorable take a scenic flight and you can see all over Yosemite.

Biking outside Yosemite in Bass Lake is the true mecca of all things mountain biking. Biking allows you to experience the landscapes from an intimate perspective and makes you feel free.

Below are a couple of our favorite trails.



Biking Trails Bass Lake


Intermediate Trails:
Goat Mountain | Forks Trail - 8 miles round trip. Note: Bike to top of Goat Mountain to the Fire Lookout tower. Watch for poison oak.

Goat Mountain | Spring Cove - 8 miles round trip. Note: Bike from Spring Cove campground to Fire Lookout tower. Watch for poison oak.

Advanced Trails:

Bass Lake - Central Camp Road |Trail 007 - from 3 miles to as long as 20 miles. Note: Best done on a long travel full-suspension bike.

Willow Creek Trail - from 3 miles to as long as 20 miles. Note: This is a double-black-diamond ride best done on a full-suspension bike with at least 5 inches of travel.

Biking Trails Inside Yosemite


Wawona | Swinging Bridge - 4 miles round trip. Note: From the Wawona store, ride out 2 miles on paved Forest Drive to the entrance to the Swinging Bridge area. Park your bike at the entrance and walk the .75 mile round trip to the bridge (and swimming hole).

Wawona | Meadow Loop - 3.5 mile loop. Note: Ride a lovely, forested flat meadow.

Yosemite Valley
| See current Yosemite Guide newspaper for areas where bikes are permitted. Note: Bikes are not permitted on dirt or trails leading out of the valley floor.



The region is buzzing with events during fall.

Fall the time when the big furry spider tarantula comes out and of course, it wouldn’t be tarantula season without a Tarantula Festival. Kids will also love the Halloween Carnival at Bass Lake

Madera is one of the richest agriculture centers in the world, fall brings pomegranates and Madera County puts on the Madera Pomegranate Festival



This fall, join California’s most renowned vintners as they come together in Yosemite to share some of their most acclaimed wines. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to chat with the vintners as you sample their latest vintages and perfectly-aged selections. The elegant event culminates with a five-course dinner featuring dishes perfectly paired to the featured wines. With seven sessions through November and December, the Grand Grape Celebration will make your Yosemite vacation one you’ll never forget.

Of course, autumn is The Bracebridge Dinner, Heraldic horns sound throughout Yosemite National Park's elegant Majestic Yosemite Hotel, calling guests to enter Bracebridge Hall. Come travel back through time to a Christmas of centuries past, where glorious music and sumptuous food are but part of America's best-loved holiday tradition.

Visit our events page for a full listen of fall happenings.

Read More

Fall May Be the Best Time to Visit Yosemite, Bass Lake and Madera County
Crisp air, clear trails, and less spendy… fall may be the best time to visit Yosemite National Park, Bass Lake and Madera County, depending on your preferences.
Published: Oct 1, 2016

Visiting Yosemite National Park, Bass Lake and Madera County in fall is a fantastic time to visit for many reasons but mostly because you avoid the summer crowds, the kids are back to school and it is less expensive than summer with lodging rates reduced after Labor day. Fall weather is the perfect time to indulge in all your outdoor activities such as seeing the leaves on the trees change color, hiking, mountain biking and indulging in local fall events while enjoying cool mornings, sunny days and star-studded nights.



The average temperature for Yosemite National Park should range from around 40°F at night to 72°F in the daytime in mid-autumn. The higher you go, the colder and more temperamental the climate gets so be sure to wear layers. The South Gate entrance neighborhoods of Madera County expect the highs to be in the mid to upper 70s with nightly lows in the 50s. Rain may visit in October, however, the rain makes for perfect hiking and mountain bike riding conditions because the weather will take those dusty trails and pack them down perfectly.

Yosemite is best explored by foot, park the car and hit the many trails that are designed for all abilities from easy to difficult. In the valley hop on a bike to explore miles of paved bike trails.

You can also experience Yosemite by taking a bus or guided tour and for something breathtaking and memorable take a scenic flight and you can see all over Yosemite.

Biking outside Yosemite in Bass Lake is the true mecca of all things mountain biking. Biking allows you to experience the landscapes from an intimate perspective and makes you feel free.

Below are a couple of our favorite trails.



Biking Trails Bass Lake


Intermediate Trails:
Goat Mountain | Forks Trail - 8 miles round trip. Note: Bike to top of Goat Mountain to the Fire Lookout tower. Watch for poison oak.

Goat Mountain | Spring Cove - 8 miles round trip. Note: Bike from Spring Cove campground to Fire Lookout tower. Watch for poison oak.

Advanced Trails:

Bass Lake - Central Camp Road |Trail 007 - from 3 miles to as long as 20 miles. Note: Best done on a long travel full-suspension bike.

Willow Creek Trail - from 3 miles to as long as 20 miles. Note: This is a double-black-diamond ride best done on a full-suspension bike with at least 5 inches of travel.

Biking Trails Inside Yosemite


Wawona | Swinging Bridge - 4 miles round trip. Note: From the Wawona store, ride out 2 miles on paved Forest Drive to the entrance to the Swinging Bridge area. Park your bike at the entrance and walk the .75 mile round trip to the bridge (and swimming hole).

Wawona | Meadow Loop - 3.5 mile loop. Note: Ride a lovely, forested flat meadow.

Yosemite Valley
| See current Yosemite Guide newspaper for areas where bikes are permitted. Note: Bikes are not permitted on dirt or trails leading out of the valley floor.



The region is buzzing with events during fall.

Fall the time when the big furry spider tarantula comes out and of course, it wouldn’t be tarantula season without a Tarantula Festival. Kids will also love the Halloween Carnival at Bass Lake

Madera is one of the richest agriculture centers in the world, fall brings pomegranates and Madera County puts on the Madera Pomegranate Festival



This fall, join California’s most renowned vintners as they come together in Yosemite to share some of their most acclaimed wines. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to chat with the vintners as you sample their latest vintages and perfectly-aged selections. The elegant event culminates with a five-course dinner featuring dishes perfectly paired to the featured wines. With seven sessions through November and December, the Grand Grape Celebration will make your Yosemite vacation one you’ll never forget.

Of course, autumn is The Bracebridge Dinner, Heraldic horns sound throughout Yosemite National Park's elegant Majestic Yosemite Hotel, calling guests to enter Bracebridge Hall. Come travel back through time to a Christmas of centuries past, where glorious music and sumptuous food are but part of America's best-loved holiday tradition.

Visit our events page for a full listen of fall happenings.

Read More

Judi's Jaunts - Mt. Dana
Published: Jan 23, 2017

Judi’s Jaunts – Hiking Yosemite & the Sierra Nevada

I haven’t met many hikes I didn’t love. Doesn’t matter if they’re long or short, flat or at elevation.
The flat ones get me out of my daily routine, focus my thoughts on wilderness and wildness, make me lose track of time for least a few hours. The tough ones challenge body and soul.

Right now I want to talk about a tough one, even though by the time you read this, you may need to plan it for next summer because it requires both access to Yosemite’s Tioga Road AND good weather without the threat of snow or thunderstorms to impede your progress.


My very favorite hike in Yosemite (at least thus far) is to the summit, or as close as you can get, of Mt. Dana, at Yosemite’s eastern entrance. It’s a hike of six miles round-trip, with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet, starting at 9,945 feet above sea level. It’s not for the faint-of-heart or the unconditioned or the unprepared. But the mind-blowing views you achieve at all stages of the hike make the effort more than worthwhile.



What do you need?

1) Acclimation to elevation. Don’t come here from sea level and expect to do this hike the same day or even the day after. Your body needs time to adjust to the thinner air. If you can, plan to stay one or two nights prior at one of the local higher-elevation such as White Wolf or Porcupine Flat or Tuolumne Meadows. You might even luxuriate at a tent cabin at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge.

2) Layer your clothing. Start early, and the day will be chilly. You will warm up as the hike progresses, and you may want to shed some of those layers.

3) Plenty of water. There is no access to water on the trail.

4) Trekking poles. This trail is rocky, and poles help you balance. Personally, I won’t hike without them even on hikes considered “easy.”

5) A hat and sunblock. Even if the weather is cool, sunburn is possible at this elevation.

6) An up-to-date weather forecast. You don’t want to do this hike if there is a threat of thunderstorms in the forecast, or if you see clouds building in the distance. They can move incredibly quickly, and there is no place to shelter on this mountain.

With all those provisos, why would you even want to do this hike?

The views are stunning. You look UP at the Sierra Crest surrounding you. As you ascend, you lose both trees and flowers to emerge on a rocky plateau or saddle featuring a “cairn” of piled-up rocks created by eons of hikers. You’ve become eye-level with the surrounding peaks. From here the trail becomes sketchy. Watch for rocks with orange dots that mark the trail created by legendary Yosemite Ranger Carl Sharsmith many years ago; however there are many routes you can take. Climbing to the ridge that leads to the summit takes you above the surrounding peaks, with a view below to Tioga Lake, Dana Couloir, Dana Glacier and, in the distance, Mono Lake. To the west you’ll catch glimpses of the Cathedral Range, the Kuna Crest and the Sierra Crest, often snow-covered even in late summer.



Continue on to the summit, where the talus starts out as fist-sized rocks and ends up as massive boulders. Disclaimer here: my short legs couldn’t manage the climb over them, and I bailed out before reaching the summit. Still, the views made the trek incredibly worthwhile.

Keep in mind that you still have to descend, so save some of your resources for the downhill. By the time we reached the trailhead at the end of a long day, our leg muscles shook from the exertion in a way they haven’t on any other hike I’ve done before or since.

Discover the magic of Yosemite’s high country, and leave the central valley’s heat behind, as well as the Yosemite Valley crowds. It’s a whole other world up there, full of adventure and spectacular beauty for both the seasoned hiker and the newcomer.

Because this hike is strenuous in a way most Yosemite hikes aren’t, planning almost a season ahead isn’t a bad thing. You have a goal that will stretch both your legs and your mind. Go for it!

About the author:
By Judi Hussain, Visitor Center Coordinator at Visit Yosemite Madera County

Judi Hussain came to Bass Lake 26 years ago and fell in love with the area. She bought a house that weekend, moved here from Southern California four months later. She’s made the Sierra Nevada foothills her home ever since. 
 
An avid hiker, she believes the best way to see Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada is by foot or bike. She has trekked virtually all of the trails in Yosemite Valley and many in the high country, as well. She’s always open to new adventures and loves sharing those journeys with visitors to the area.

Read More

Judi's Jaunts - Mt. Dana
Published: Jan 23, 2017

Judi’s Jaunts – Hiking Yosemite & the Sierra Nevada

I haven’t met many hikes I didn’t love. Doesn’t matter if they’re long or short, flat or at elevation.
The flat ones get me out of my daily routine, focus my thoughts on wilderness and wildness, make me lose track of time for least a few hours. The tough ones challenge body and soul.

Right now I want to talk about a tough one, even though by the time you read this, you may need to plan it for next summer because it requires both access to Yosemite’s Tioga Road AND good weather without the threat of snow or thunderstorms to impede your progress.


My very favorite hike in Yosemite (at least thus far) is to the summit, or as close as you can get, of Mt. Dana, at Yosemite’s eastern entrance. It’s a hike of six miles round-trip, with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet, starting at 9,945 feet above sea level. It’s not for the faint-of-heart or the unconditioned or the unprepared. But the mind-blowing views you achieve at all stages of the hike make the effort more than worthwhile.



What do you need?

1) Acclimation to elevation. Don’t come here from sea level and expect to do this hike the same day or even the day after. Your body needs time to adjust to the thinner air. If you can, plan to stay one or two nights prior at one of the local higher-elevation such as White Wolf or Porcupine Flat or Tuolumne Meadows. You might even luxuriate at a tent cabin at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge.

2) Layer your clothing. Start early, and the day will be chilly. You will warm up as the hike progresses, and you may want to shed some of those layers.

3) Plenty of water. There is no access to water on the trail.

4) Trekking poles. This trail is rocky, and poles help you balance. Personally, I won’t hike without them even on hikes considered “easy.”

5) A hat and sunblock. Even if the weather is cool, sunburn is possible at this elevation.

6) An up-to-date weather forecast. You don’t want to do this hike if there is a threat of thunderstorms in the forecast, or if you see clouds building in the distance. They can move incredibly quickly, and there is no place to shelter on this mountain.

With all those provisos, why would you even want to do this hike?

The views are stunning. You look UP at the Sierra Crest surrounding you. As you ascend, you lose both trees and flowers to emerge on a rocky plateau or saddle featuring a “cairn” of piled-up rocks created by eons of hikers. You’ve become eye-level with the surrounding peaks. From here the trail becomes sketchy. Watch for rocks with orange dots that mark the trail created by legendary Yosemite Ranger Carl Sharsmith many years ago; however there are many routes you can take. Climbing to the ridge that leads to the summit takes you above the surrounding peaks, with a view below to Tioga Lake, Dana Couloir, Dana Glacier and, in the distance, Mono Lake. To the west you’ll catch glimpses of the Cathedral Range, the Kuna Crest and the Sierra Crest, often snow-covered even in late summer.



Continue on to the summit, where the talus starts out as fist-sized rocks and ends up as massive boulders. Disclaimer here: my short legs couldn’t manage the climb over them, and I bailed out before reaching the summit. Still, the views made the trek incredibly worthwhile.

Keep in mind that you still have to descend, so save some of your resources for the downhill. By the time we reached the trailhead at the end of a long day, our leg muscles shook from the exertion in a way they haven’t on any other hike I’ve done before or since.

Discover the magic of Yosemite’s high country, and leave the central valley’s heat behind, as well as the Yosemite Valley crowds. It’s a whole other world up there, full of adventure and spectacular beauty for both the seasoned hiker and the newcomer.

Because this hike is strenuous in a way most Yosemite hikes aren’t, planning almost a season ahead isn’t a bad thing. You have a goal that will stretch both your legs and your mind. Go for it!

About the author:
By Judi Hussain, Visitor Center Coordinator at Visit Yosemite Madera County

Judi Hussain came to Bass Lake 26 years ago and fell in love with the area. She bought a house that weekend, moved here from Southern California four months later. She’s made the Sierra Nevada foothills her home ever since. 
 
An avid hiker, she believes the best way to see Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada is by foot or bike. She has trekked virtually all of the trails in Yosemite Valley and many in the high country, as well. She’s always open to new adventures and loves sharing those journeys with visitors to the area.

Read More

Winter in Yosemite Travel Tips Straight From A Travel Expert
Expert winter travel advice from Judi Hussain, Yosemite travel expert.
Published: Jan 31, 2017

As a local, I am thrilled to share my travel expertise and provide you with tips to make your visit to our destination the best it can possibly be. 

In November 1989 I traveled to Bass Lake—and fell in love with the Sierra Nevada foothills the minute my boots hit the ground at The Pines Resort. Over a weekend I explored Yosemite National Park. In the back of my mind I knew I’d found my true home, made an offer on a house that very weekend and moved here full-time four months later. The rest, as they say, is history.

Yosemite Valley in Winter

Yosemite in December, January, and February is a lovely time to visit. Here are a few of my favorite reasons:

The park is far less crowded in fall and winter. It’s almost like having the place to yourself.

Prices reduce dramatically in fall and winter in Yosemite and in the surrounding gateways. Visiting in the off-season means you can afford to splurge a little more.

Some of the most spectacular scenery occurs in fall and winter. Enjoy autumn colors and snowcapped peaks from many vantage points.

Outdoor winter activities abound!

Yosemite Winter Hikes:

Enjoy exploring the valley floor on trails, such as the Valley Loop Trail or the Mirror Lake Loop. At 13.5 miles, the Valley Loop Trail can be easily divided in half or even thirds as it winds from the east end of Yosemite Valley to the Pohono Bridge at the west end then back again. It is virtually flat, so count it in the easy category. The Mirror Lake Loop measures about five miles in its entirety and is also mostly flat, although there are some steps and rocky places to negotiate on the Half Dome side of the trail. I always take a trekking pole or two when I hike, and that is an excellent plan on any Yosemite trail. Take plenty of water and snacks, and layer your clothing so you can shed or add as temperatures change throughout the day.

Couple in Yosemite Cross-Country Skiing

Ice Skating:

Imagine gliding along on the Half Dome Village ice rink with Half Dome and the valley cliffs above you. Is it my imagination, or is the sky bluer in winter than any other time?

Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area:

Try snowshoeing out to Dewey Point or cross country skiing to Glacier Point. Imagine seeing Yosemite’s most iconic views glistening in a white coat. If you're into more extreme sports, try a bit of downhill skiing or snowboarding. If that’s not for you, keep it simple and try riding down snowy slopes on inner-tubes.

Warm up in a Yosemite Restaurant

There is also great dining to be had:

Take that special someone for lunch at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly The Ahwahnee). Lunch prices are about half that of dinner prices, and you can go in your hiking clothes. (You have to be a bit more formal at dinner.) But the absolute best part of doing lunch is . . . daylight. The Majestic Yosemite Hotel has 34-foot-high floor-to-ceiling windows, with one side looking up toward Glacier Point. An afternoon at the Majestic is well worth the hour or two it’ll cost your schedule.

If the Majestic doesn’t fit your time or your budget, there are more casual Yosemite restaurant options. Check out the cafeteria at the Yosemite Valley Lodge, the Pizza Deck at Half Dome Village or Degnan’s Deli in Yosemite Village. Or you can pick up pre-made sandwiches at local grocery stores and picnic beside the Merced River in Wawona or at the Swinging Bridge in the Valley if the day is nice.

How to Explore Yosemite:
If you don’t want to drive but want to experience Yosemite’s winter splendor, consider taking a guided Yosemite tour. Several companies in the Oakhurst area will pick you up at your hotel, or close to it, and take you to the park for an all-day adventure. You’ll learn all about Yosemite from an expert who is also experienced in driving winter mountain roads.

If you drive into Yosemite, make sure to take the free Yosemite Valley Shuttle to all the popular places. Don’t waste time looking for parking at each site you wish to visit. Or you can walk. Yosemite Valley is flat, and its paths invite you to enjoy the fresh air and splendid surroundings.

Bass Lake in Winter | A Snowy Winter WonderlandThere’s more to see than Yosemite, too. Think Bass Lake, Oakhurst, Coarsegold and Fish Camp for great dining, craft fairs and unique boutiques.

If you crave a 5-star dining or lodging experience, make a reservation at Oakhurst’s Chateau du Sureau and its on-site restaurant, Erna’s Elderberry House. Its old-world charm and superb service make every day a holiday. Or enjoy a more laid back atmosphere at local favorite hot spot, South Gate Brewing Company

Plan your trip to Yosemite and Madera County

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My Experience - Hiking Half Dome with YExplore
Half Dome is an icon in the most iconic of national parks: Yosemite. Even if they don’t know what the hike entails, visitors often cite it as a goal--until they learn it requires 17 miles of trekking with almost 5,000 feet of elevation gain. Enjoy my trek to the top of Half Dome with YExplore.
Published: Feb 7, 2017

Half Dome is an icon in the most iconic of national parks:  Yosemite. Even if they don’t know what the hike entails, visitors often cite it as a goal--until they learn it requires 17 miles of trekking with almost 5,000 feet of elevation gain.

Even though I’d summited Half Dome twice previously, I decided to summit the massive granite monolith again with YExplore, a professional guide company specializing in Yosemite National Park guided hikes.



We met before sun-up in a parking lot near Happy Isles, most of us greeting each other for the first time. Our paths lit by headlamps, we began our journey to the top of Half Dome led by John DeGrazio, experienced guide and owner of YExplore.  Early morning light found us at a stairway of steep stone steps, some a foot high.  At the top streamed Vernal Fall, the first of two waterfalls we’d visit. The trail wound along the contours of the mountain. As we climbed, we stopped often to look back at the cascading water behind us where the light created soft rainbows in circles around the pool at the base of the fall. 

The sun crept above the horizon as it cast a golden glow over the surrounding landscape. Ancient oaks spread leafy branches to frame the view of Nevada Fall and the trail ahead with vibrant fall colors. Our knowledgeable guides identified Liberty Cap, Mount Broderick and other mountain peaks as well as plant and tree species as we walked.

The terrain changed from granite staircases to the soft dirt trails of Little Yosemite Valley as it skirted the Merced River and wound in and out of dense forest.
We didn’t need jackets, but fall temperatures remained cool enough for a comfortable hike. We stopped to enjoy a light snack two miles from the summit. As we sat on logs lining the trail, John prepped us for the remaining climb. Throughout the hike he identified each section on a scale of 1-5 with 1 the easiest and 5 the most difficult. Upcoming we would tackle the most difficult section of the hike, the narrow, winding staircase (minus guardrails) up to the subdome and then the cable section on which we would crest Half Dome itself. 



 At this point we dragged ourselves upward, our feet sore and muscles aching. But with John’s years of experience of 145 summits up Half Dome, he urged the group on to a place he called “Motivation Point.” There the view opened to reveal a fantastic view of our target. At that sight we picked up some pep in our step.  With a renewed sense of determination we scrambled up the subdome and found ourselves at the base of the cables. Keeping us eye-on-the-goal, John didn’t allow any second thoughts. Instead he instilled confidence in us, and we approached the climb steady and sure. 

We pulled gloves from our bags as John gave the crew a thorough lesson on the best way to get up the cables. One by one we climbed, John offering help as we went. I brought up the rear, so I could grab photos and video along the way. We used the right-side cable to haul ourselves up while other hikers made their way down on the left.  Twenty minutes later, after words of encouragement from our guides, we exchanged high fives on the 13-acre plateau of Half Dome. 



There is something special about achieving this together. We may have started as strangers, but we returned as friends. For most of the group, this was their first time to the summit of Half Dome. Seeing the looks on their faces when they realize the grandeur of their achievement is a wonderful feeling.


Photo by John DeGrazio, YExplore

We relaxed on top of Half Dome, basking in breathtaking views, snapping photos and laughing. We pulled out a snack and enjoyed lunch while gazing down into Yosemite Valley. John passed around bites of delicious dark chocolate, a perfect energy boost for the trek back to the valley. After a few more photos, we packed up our items and began the trek back. 



 I learned a few things along the way.
The best chocolate is dark chocolate handed out at the top of Half Dome. 
Even though I am an experienced hiker with lots of miles under my belt and two previous Half Dome summits, I still had things to learn from the professional guides of YExplore
From John I learned to practice stepping with intention and found I had more get-up-and-go, placing my feet firm and flat, utilizing proper breathing techniques.

John knew exactly how to motivate, excite and encourage when needed, allowing each participant to achieve his personal best.  YExplore truly knows the tricks to make Half Dome a reality for determined hikers.

What a fantastic day! I highly recommend joining YExplore for your Half Dome adventure.  
Read More

My Experience - Hiking Half Dome with YExplore
Half Dome is an icon in the most iconic of national parks: Yosemite. Even if they don’t know what the hike entails, visitors often cite it as a goal--until they learn it requires 17 miles of trekking with almost 5,000 feet of elevation gain. Enjoy my trek to the top of Half Dome with YExplore.
Published: Feb 7, 2017

Half Dome is an icon in the most iconic of national parks:  Yosemite. Even if they don’t know what the hike entails, visitors often cite it as a goal--until they learn it requires 17 miles of trekking with almost 5,000 feet of elevation gain.

Even though I’d summited Half Dome twice previously, I decided to summit the massive granite monolith again with YExplore, a professional guide company specializing in Yosemite National Park guided hikes.



We met before sun-up in a parking lot near Happy Isles, most of us greeting each other for the first time. Our paths lit by headlamps, we began our journey to the top of Half Dome led by John DeGrazio, experienced guide and owner of YExplore.  Early morning light found us at a stairway of steep stone steps, some a foot high.  At the top streamed Vernal Fall, the first of two waterfalls we’d visit. The trail wound along the contours of the mountain. As we climbed, we stopped often to look back at the cascading water behind us where the light created soft rainbows in circles around the pool at the base of the fall. 

The sun crept above the horizon as it cast a golden glow over the surrounding landscape. Ancient oaks spread leafy branches to frame the view of Nevada Fall and the trail ahead with vibrant fall colors. Our knowledgeable guides identified Liberty Cap, Mount Broderick and other mountain peaks as well as plant and tree species as we walked.

The terrain changed from granite staircases to the soft dirt trails of Little Yosemite Valley as it skirted the Merced River and wound in and out of dense forest.
We didn’t need jackets, but fall temperatures remained cool enough for a comfortable hike. We stopped to enjoy a light snack two miles from the summit. As we sat on logs lining the trail, John prepped us for the remaining climb. Throughout the hike he identified each section on a scale of 1-5 with 1 the easiest and 5 the most difficult. Upcoming we would tackle the most difficult section of the hike, the narrow, winding staircase (minus guardrails) up to the subdome and then the cable section on which we would crest Half Dome itself. 



 At this point we dragged ourselves upward, our feet sore and muscles aching. But with John’s years of experience of 145 summits up Half Dome, he urged the group on to a place he called “Motivation Point.” There the view opened to reveal a fantastic view of our target. At that sight we picked up some pep in our step.  With a renewed sense of determination we scrambled up the subdome and found ourselves at the base of the cables. Keeping us eye-on-the-goal, John didn’t allow any second thoughts. Instead he instilled confidence in us, and we approached the climb steady and sure. 

We pulled gloves from our bags as John gave the crew a thorough lesson on the best way to get up the cables. One by one we climbed, John offering help as we went. I brought up the rear, so I could grab photos and video along the way. We used the right-side cable to haul ourselves up while other hikers made their way down on the left.  Twenty minutes later, after words of encouragement from our guides, we exchanged high fives on the 13-acre plateau of Half Dome. 



There is something special about achieving this together. We may have started as strangers, but we returned as friends. For most of the group, this was their first time to the summit of Half Dome. Seeing the looks on their faces when they realize the grandeur of their achievement is a wonderful feeling.


Photo by John DeGrazio, YExplore

We relaxed on top of Half Dome, basking in breathtaking views, snapping photos and laughing. We pulled out a snack and enjoyed lunch while gazing down into Yosemite Valley. John passed around bites of delicious dark chocolate, a perfect energy boost for the trek back to the valley. After a few more photos, we packed up our items and began the trek back. 



 I learned a few things along the way.
The best chocolate is dark chocolate handed out at the top of Half Dome. 
Even though I am an experienced hiker with lots of miles under my belt and two previous Half Dome summits, I still had things to learn from the professional guides of YExplore
From John I learned to practice stepping with intention and found I had more get-up-and-go, placing my feet firm and flat, utilizing proper breathing techniques.

John knew exactly how to motivate, excite and encourage when needed, allowing each participant to achieve his personal best.  YExplore truly knows the tricks to make Half Dome a reality for determined hikers.

What a fantastic day! I highly recommend joining YExplore for your Half Dome adventure.  
Read More