• Yosemite National Park: A Travel Breakdown

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    Over 10 millennia ago, Native Americans were the first to inhabit the Yosemite Valley, also known as “Ahwahnee” or “place of the gaping mouth.”  These inhabitants called themselves the Ahwahneechee and these periodic traders were no strangers to their sister tribes over the eastern side of the Sierra.

    Yosemite started to see an influx of visitors, entrepreneurs and opportunists during the mid 1800s, where they capitalized on the import of goods due to the park’s remote location. Soon after, Yosemite became a permanent homestead for cattle ranchers, agriculturalists and the like in the 1860s. A homesteader, by the name of Galen Clark, soon made the discovery of Mariposa Grove and its massive Sequoias in 1855 that would change the significance of Yosemite Valley for centuries to come. His effort to preserve the sequoias from logging lead to the involvement of Congress and later, the Yosemite Grant. Abraham Lincoln himself signed the Yosemite Grant during the Civil War, making Yosemite the first territory set out for strictly public use and preservation.

    A few years later, America’s most iconic naturalist and conservationist John Muir and company launched a campaign to designate the area as an official national park. They finally succeeded in 1890 with the consent of Congress. The 1,500 square miles became known as Yosemite National Park on October 1, 1890.

    Yosemite Natinoal Parks: Travel Tips

    Accessible Trails: Lower Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Mirror Lake.
    Park Fees & Permits:

    • Admission is valid for seven days.
    • $20 per vehicle or $10 per individual
    • Wilderness Permit required for backcountry camping and/or climbing.

    Park Hours:

    • The park is open 24/7 year-round. All entrances are open at all hours, except for Hetch Hetchy Entrance, which is open roughly dawn to dusk.

    Travel Times:

    • Avoid busy holiday periods (i.e. July 4)
    • To avoid crowds and experience great weather, visit midweek, mid-April through May or mid-September through October.

    Escape the crowds: Hike the Valley Loop Trail

    Big Tip: Don’t drive! The traffic backs up everything and walking is usually faster. Alternatively, take the free shuttle, since it hits all the popular spots in the valley.

    Here's a map of Yosemite National Park:


    • Curry Village, starting at $39/night → Book Now
    • Wawona Hotel, starting at $89/night → Book Now
    • Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, starting at $149/night → Book Now
    • Evergreen Lodge At Yosemite, starting at $270/night → Book Now
    • Ahwahnee Hotel, starting at $413/night → Book Now

    Things To Do
    Classic Hikes: Mist Trail to Vernal Fall, Four-Mile Trail, Yosemite Falls Trail, or the Glacier Point trails
    Winter Fun: Ice-skating rink at Curry Village, Ski School at Badger Pass, Cross-Country Skiing along Glacier Point Road.


    • Chefs' Holidays: Celebrated chefs host cooking demonstrations and multi-course meals at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Village on weekends.Space is limited. 


    • Fireman's Muster: Festival of antique fire engines, fine art, a parade of the old pumpers and more in Columbia, CA.


    • Mammoth Lakes Jazz Jubilee: Founded in 1989, this festival features plenty of live entertainment and more! 
    • Mother Lode Fair: Sonora celebrates its gold-mining roots with a grand fair at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds. 


    • Bluesapalooza: The first weekend of every August, Mammoth Lakes hosts a blues and beer festival. 


    • Sierra Art Trails: Tons of art on display throughout eastern Madera and Mariposa counties. For locations and hours, visit their website. 


    • Vintners' Holidays: Free seminars conducted with some of California's most prestigious vintners at the Great Room of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Village. Banquet dinner included. 


    • Bracebridge Dinner: A 17th-century-theme madrigal dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Village that’s been around every Christmas since 1928. 

    Unique Factor

    The park’s biodiversity offers up a whole range of activities for all times of the year! Hiking Half Dome, being overshadowed by the Sequoias, nature walks with the family, swimming holes in the summer, snowshoeing in the winter and more. Don’t limit yourself to the “tourist destinations”. With so many resources around the park, take advantage of the road less traveled and you won’t regret it.

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  • Top 7 Haunted National Park Destinations

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    We know it’s early, but you know you want it to be Halloween already! Costumes, trick-or-treating, massive sugar consumption, cocktails and spooky adventures shouldn’t be confined to your neck of the woods -- spend the day (and night, if you dare) outdoors. There are a ton of national parks calling your name (perhaps literally)!

    Here's your Top 7 Countdown:

    7. Gettysburg National Military Park
    Devil’s Den

    The Civil War’s bloodiest battle occurred at Devil’s Den, resulting in over 51,000 casualties. That’s a lot of bodies! Many of them continue to haunt the area and many visitors have reported hearing phantom gunshots and drum rolls, while others have seen the infamous headless horseman among other soldiers. Vicksburg and Fredericksburg National Military Parks have said similar incidents have occurred as well.

    6. Antietam National Battlefield
    Bloody Lane, Burnside Bridge

    The 12-hour Battle of Antietam took the lives of 23,000 soldiers in 1862. The road is now known as Bloody Lane and purported to be haunted by those who were lost on the battlefield. Among the reported spooks are phantom gunfire, shouting and singing. The old beat of the battle drum coupled with ghostly Confederates sounds like a good Halloween… for those that can stomach it! Historians say scores of those fallen soldiers were buried under Burnside Bridge, so perhaps that’s worth the trip in itself.

    5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    Norton Creek Trail, Lake Fontana

    On the north shore of Lake Fontana, rumors have it, a settler was murdered while in search of his daughter. Some who have lost their way speak of an ominous light that takes them back. But that’s not the best attraction! The Cherokee legend of Spearfinger has it that a witch with a sharp, long finger made of stone haunts the trails disguised as an old woman and lures children away from the trail. Once in her clutch, she’d use her sharp, stone finger to cut out their innards and eat! Eww! You’ll see a few cemeteries along the trail, so cross your fingers you don’t get eaten!

    4. Grand Canyon National Park
    El Tovar, Transept Trail, Phantom Ranch

    Indian apparitions have long been a part of the canyon’s history with the sound of boys running through Hopi House. Another ghost in attendance is Fred Harvey dressed in a long coat and black hat (according to reports).  His company used to manage various hotels and restaurants along the railroad and has been spotted at El Tovar.  Lastly, the Wailing Woman, who goes by different names depending on who you ask, frequents the North Rim in search of her husband and son. They had both died in a hiking accident and the woman had committed suicide, as she was overcome with pain and anguish. Look for the woman dressed in white along the Transept Trail.

    3. Yosemite National Park
    Camp 6, Stoneman Bridge, Ahwahnee Hotel, Grouse Lake

    A young couple who drowned at Stoneman Bridge are rumored to still be hanging around, while Native American apparitions are reportedly amongst the dense pine areas. Better yet is the Ahwahnee Hotel, which served as a naval hospital during WW2. Jeepers! Take the Chilnualna Falls Trail to Grouse Lake and you might hear the cries of an Indian boy who drowned in the lake. The legend states that anyone who goes into the lake will go under and drown. There’s one more attraction thanks to the Miwok Indians who believed in an evil wind Pohono. The spirit is said to draw in people to the falls’ edge and push them over!

    2. Rocky Mountain National Park
    Stanley Hotel

    On the edge of the park is the Stanley Hotel and has contended to be one of the most haunted hotels in the U.S. Score! Guests, including author Stephen King have heard voices and children playing on several floors. The original owner has been sighted around the lobby and his wife is said to play the piano in the music room.  That’s too close for comfort in our opinion!

    1. Mammoth Cave National Park
    Old Guide Cemetery, Corpse Rock

    Native American burial grounds bring about obvious apparitions, while explorer Floyd Collins, who died after being trapped, has been heard crying for help. That’s not it! A girl left her tutor (and infatuation) out of animosity and upon return could not find him again. Accounts say her ghost still continues to search. Even the park rangers have accounted for the ghosts of slave guides during the Civil War, and slave Stephan Bishop, in particular. It gets weirder: the cave served as a tuberculosis hospital for a short time in the 1800s. The remains of patient rooms are still there. Outside one of the cabins is a slab of stone, known as Corpse Rock, where dead patients awaited burial. People have heard coughing coming from the rock!

    Make sure you’re geared up to face the ghouls and ghosts with a few of our prime products! Gear up at our NPD store today! Whether you choose to enjoy the spooky festivities at one of these locations or elsewhere, the National Parks Depot crew wants to wish you a Happy Halloween! 

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