Gryphon Park
Yosemite May 2002:

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Yosemite is one of America's best known national parks. Unfortunately, being so well-known causes hoards of tourists to descend on the impressive but rather small Yosemite Valley. Our trip to Yosemite was during the first week of May. We hoped that by going in May we would beat the crowds. Unfortunately, a large number of other people shared the same hope, that was destined to be unfulfilled. While the crowds are surely worse in the summer, there were already so many people in the Park that the valley lacked any sense of tranquility. The National Park Service's controversial plan to eliminate cars from Yosemite Valley would help restore a sense of peace, but that plan has yet to be implemented.

Tunnel View

The conventional wisdom in Yosemite and most other national parks is that hiking will give you sanctuary from the crowds. Unfortunately, there is only one main trail out of Yosemite Valley, the John Muir Trail, and it is packed with other people trying to find tranquility. The John Muir Trail climbs out of the valley and is thus rather steep. If you are in great shape and do not mind hiking uphill for a few hours, I'm sure it's possible to get away from the crowds. In early May, Highway 120 through the upper elevations of the park is closed due to snow. In the summer, there are more options for hiking as Highway 120 allows you drive to the higher elevations.

Half Dome

Dogwoods in Bloom

The great delight of visiting in early May is that the Dogwood trees on the valley floor are in full bloom.

Dogwood Bloom Dogwood Bloom
Dogwood Bloom Dogwood Bloom