There’s one sure-fire way for avoiding the crowds at Yosemite National Park: visit during the winter. Gone until May are the crowds that fill the Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and the Mariposa Grove. You’ll love the freedom from take-a-number tourism, and be mesmerized by the pure, clean, quiet whiteness. It just might seem like you have the place all to yourself.
Yosemite National Park
While most visitors head to Yosemite National Park to see the majestic landscapes, an often-overlooked element of our connection with nature is the soundscapes – both what you hear and what you don’t.
A winter with little snow has been followed by a summer of drought. Tall, white storm clouds tower above the mountain peaks throughout the long, hot afternoon. A few raindrops splatter onto the pine needles which cover the forest floor. Then, strong winds rush through the forest, rocking the treetops back and forth. The scene has been set for a destructive force of nature: a forest fire.
The Western landscape is in flux. Populations are swelling, sprawl is expanding population centers, water is becoming more precious as a result of drought and diversions, land-management philosophies and practices are generating political frictions. In her latest book, Sara Dant brings perspective to these changes by examining the factors that precipitated them.
No one knows more about the history of wildland fire in the United States than Stephen Pyne, a prodigious scholar, prolific writer, and former wildland firefighter who spent 15 years on the ground with the North Rim Hotshots. His encyclopedic knowledge and personal experience of wildland fire are exceptional credentials for writing this book, which traces the history of wildfire in America over the past half century.
There are literally hundreds of books on Yosemite National Park, including the iconic Ansel Adams black and white homage and John Muir’s The Yosemite, and it’s no wonder: it’s 1,200 square miles of mountains and canyons and valleys like nowhere else on Earth, and means so much to so many. And here is another must-have for your library, a rare combination of beautiful images coupled with heartfelt words by two masters of their crafts.
In Part 1 of this story, Tom Nichols presented a brief history of the National Park Service’s fire management program, with reference to an article by Kyle Dickman, Fighting Fire with Fire. Dickman stated that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ wildland fire management program is: “America’s most progressive forest management program,” and then asked: “why isn’t it being replicated elsewhere?” Part 2 serves to answer Dickman’s question.
Obama administration officials tout that the president has protected nearly 550 million acres of public lands during his tenure, but observers say those numbers tell an uneven story of how President Obama has stewarded the environment, and add that the Democrat can accomplish much more before he leaves the White House.
With several major storms expected to hit California's Sierras this weekend, Yosemite National Park officials will close the Tioga Road at 3 p.m. and the Glacier Point Road at 5 p.m. on Saturday. These closures will be in place until further notice.
An unprecedented 40-year experiment in a 40,000-acre valley of Yosemite National Park strongly supports the idea that managing fire, rather than suppressing it, makes wilderness areas more resilient to fire, with the added benefit of increased water availability and resistance to drought.