I didn't look into Yosemite campground reservations until about a week before our trip. Big mistake. This park is ridiculously busy, and so of course everything was booked solid. I started to look at private campgrounds outside the park and even considered just bagging Yosemite all together. On a whim, I rechecked the campground reservations website a couple of days later, and thankfully there had been a cancellation and I was able to get a spot at North Pines campground in the main valley.
Aside from all of the great scenery, I was excited to check out Yosemite's 3000-foot granite cliffs that have produced some impressive rock falls in recent years. The Utah Geological Survey produced a study on rock-fall hazard in Zion National Park and we employed some of the same methods pioneered in Yosemite. You don't need a geology degree to see that many Yosemite structures, campgrounds, and crowded hiking trails are in high-hazard zones. Yosemite rock falls have killed several people in the past, and more injuries and fatalities are a certainty in the future. The high risk has prompted a new, comprehensive cooperative study between the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey that has resulted in set-backs, and plans to permanently close or move some park facilities.
|Lower Yosemite Falls.|
|Rafters on the Merced River below Yosemite Falls.|
|Bridge over the Merced River near North Pines campground.|
|Small pond near North Side Drive.|
|Tenaya Creek and the lower slopes of North Dome.|
|Glacier-carved Tenaya Canyon and Half Dome. The massive 2009 Ahwiya Point rock-fall scar and debris field can be seen downslope and slightly upcanyon from Half Dome.|
|One advantage of going to Yosemite early in the season is all of the waterfalls. My guess is that many of these thinner falls dry up by midsummer.|
|Nevada Falls from Glacier Point.|
|Mirror Lake lives up to its name.|
|Yosemite Falls from Glacier Point. A 1980 rock fall struck hikers on the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail killing three and injuring 19.|
|Classic Yosemite scenery as seen from the Tunnel View overlook.|