When you only have a short window of time to visit the Yosemite Valley, you go … often even if it is not the best weather conditions. This past Saturday in the middle of April was one of those days. According to local reports about 1-1/2 feet of snow fell in the previous 24-hours.
“As is true of all mountainous regions, weather in the Sierra Nevada can change rapidly at any time of the year,” according to the Yosemite National Park website. “Since Yosemite varies in elevation from 2,000 feet to over 13,000 feet, the lower foothills of the park can be experiencing the rebirth of spring while the higher elevations remain in the grip of winter. The higher you go, the colder and more temperamental the climate gets.”
When we entered the park it was already past 2 p.m. Several of the highways in, and through the park, were closed due to snow. (Always check on current road conditions and chain restrictions by calling 209/372-0200.) Highway 41 required that vehicles carry chains.
Temperatures hoovered around 34 degrees and the cloud cover kept creeping down into the Yosemite Valley.
On our quick drive along the Valley Loop we noticed that even in these freezing temperatures, all the open ‘no utilities’ campgrounds were busy. Every type of camping shelter, from tents to motor coaches, could be seen. (Click here for camping information.)
The waterfalls were magnificent. Bridalveil Fall (above) was plunging at full speed, while Yosemite Fall (opposite-left), the tallest waterfall in North America, seemed to be plummeting out of the clouds.
By the time we left Yosemite Valley, around 4:30 p.m., cooler weather was setting in and visibility had decreased to less than 30-feet at times. It was a slow and tedious drive.
Photos: (Top) Iconic shot of Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View point shows El Capitan (on left) to Bridalveil Fall (on right). (Middle) Motor coach stops off for a closer view of Bridalveil Fall. (Bottom) Part of Upper and Lower Yosemite Fall. (Julianne Crane)