Sunday, May 1, 2011

Planning a Visit to a National Park

In the old days, back before the internet, people used to write to places they wanted to spend some vacation time at to request some brochures. Then you'd sit down and get out the paper maps and start planning when and how and where to go. My dad used to use the Chicago Motorclub Association or  AAA to get trip maps and routes planned out for our family vacations. He would be amazed to see how we do it now! But you know, sometimes the darn GPS is not always right or we really don't like the way it routes us! So we will still look use good old fashioned maps as a backup. That, and the internet....

Eldy found a great website to plan a trip to Yosemite. The major part of the trip is already done as we are within 26 miles of the south park entrance! (Park Sierra Escapees Park). The website is the National Park Service "Plan Your Visit for Yosemite National Park". We found out lots of things today in preparation for going tomorrow....Some bits and pieces of information that we found out ahead of time:

Tioga Road-10 feet of snow still cover it! (NPS photo) 
There are 12 miles of paved bike trails in Yosemite Valley. The main high elevation pass/road that crosses Yosemite National Park-- Tioga Road-- is closed indefinitely due to record snowfall levels and difficulties clearing trees that have fallen across roads in the park and are buried in the snow. There has been a 178% increase over the average amount of snow that normally falls in the park! They apply charcoal over the snow to help with the melting and sometimes they have to blast the snow because it's so deep and so heavy in order to get the dozers in. There are 26 avalanche zones in the park that the park is making certain are safe and passable before opening the roads for travel. You might need tire chains in the spring season and they can be required if the snow is still there....AND--the peak run off for water and snow melt in the streams and waterfalls is in May and June....which is why the best time to view the park's incredible waterfalls is in the spring...

We'll see you in Yosemite National Park tomorrow for an exploratory visit! In the meantime, enjoy some photos from around the Park Sierra where we are staying....

Some pretty bushes by the clubhouse.  A million bees were on the one with all the pink blossoms. Spring is in full swing here in the park.

Here is another pretty blossoming bush at twilight...
And you know, there are a TON of acorn woodpeckers here in the park. They are a real problem for the residents, because they like to squirrel away the acorns for a snowy in the residents' sheds, or in the telephone poles! Here's an interesting fact on this bird from National Geographic:

These groups maintain and protect impressive granaries in which thousands of acorns are stored in holes drilled in tree trunks or utility poles for future consumption; in a study a single tree contained more than 50,000 acorn-storage holes. 
I believe it after seeing this telephone pole in the park here. There are two males at the top of the telephone pole....and here's a closeup of what they do with the acorns. The holes are full all the way from the bottom to the top of the telephone pole..amazing!
Tomorrow, Yosemite!

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