Famed Yosemite Falls is framed by a thick forest on the valley floor. From bicycling to birding, there are many activities for visitors to enjoy in the park this summer. - Photo courtesy Orange County Register

Yosemite's season nears its peak

Here are some news and events in and around Yosemite National Park, for its high season now through early fall:

  • Good times to visit: Entry into Yosemite is free Sept. 29 for National Public Lands Day, and Nov. 10-12 for Veterans Day weekend.
  • Exploring the park: The Yosemite Conservancy is offering more than 35 Outdoor Adventures this year. You can explore the park's wildlife, geology and cultural history. The programs will range from hikes to Half Dome to easy strolls through the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias. Others include Miwok-Paiute Indian basketmaking, a photo trip of Yosemite's waterfalls, and stargazing in Tuolumne Meadows. For more information, go to or call 800-469-7275.
  • Bicycling: Curry Village and Yosemite Lodge bike stands offer rentals from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily.
  • Village Store makeover: A newly "eco-friendly" Village Store has opened after a $1.15 million renovation. Refrigeration, ventilation, flooring and lighting were all redone to reduce energy use by 25 percent and water consumption by more than 900,000 gallons a year. The remodel used recyclable building materials when possible.
  • Birding in Yosemite: Flocks of violet-green swallows hang out at Tenaya Lake. Steller's jays will be around looking for picnic handouts. Birds around Parson's Lodge and the meadows include the common raven, northern flicker, mountain chickadee, red-winged blackbird, killdeer, Clark's nutcracker, American robin, mountain bluebird, Cassin's finch, red crossbill, pine siskin, darkeyed junco and red-naped sapsucker, depending on the time of year.
  • Oakhurst Centennial: The town of Oakhurst is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its name change from Fresno Flats. The change occurred in February, but the town is planning events all year. Check it out at or call 559-683-7766.
  • Wawona Hotel: The historic Wawona Hotel, about four miles from the south entrance, has been open since March 30. While other hotels in the park are open year-round, the Wawona shuts down around Thanksgiving, reopens briefly for Christmas, then closes for the first three months of the year.
  • Motel name change: The Shilo Inn in Oakhurst recently changed ownership and will be rebranded as Yosemite Southgate Hotel & Suites. The new owners plan to display the work of more local photographers and artists as part of the change.
  • Ranger bravery: Yosemite National Park ranger Dan Abbe recently received the Department of Interior Medal of Valor for his quick action in May 2009 to save two park visitors from a vehicle that caught fire when an auxiliary fuel tank ruptured. Abbe was recently promoted to acting wilderness manager.
  • Volunteer opportunities: The National Park Service is looking for volunteers who would like to help with projects such as vegetation restoration, trail repair and building, wildlife preservation and campsite maintenance. For a full list of opportunities, go to (click on "volunteer in Yosemite") or write to Yosemite Volunteer Office, P.O. Box 700, El Portal, CA 95318.
  • Big business: A National Park Service report covering 2010 says that the roughly 4 million visitors spent $354.7 million in Yosemite National Park and in communities near the park. The spending supports 4,600 jobs in the area.

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