As a follow up to the post on the 3rd on the hike up to Ribbon Falls…
Before I went to Yosemite, one of the most common things I heard about the park was how crowded it is. People I knew who had worked at other national parks seemed dismissive of Yosemite because of the crowds. I pictured the Valley as being literally elbow-to-elbow with people, and full of neon-lighted tourist traps.
The reality of Yosemite National Park was nothing like that in 1987.
Sure, it was indeed one of the most crowded parks in America. Yosemite Valley really is fully stocked with campgrounds, motels, a five-star hotel, restaurants, a grocery store, a mini-mall, art galleries, a gas station, and even its own fire department. Standing in the middle of Yosemite Village feels like standing in the bustling downtown of most any American small town. Well…except for being surrounded by granite walls and waterfalls.
The trails around Yosemite Valley and up the sides around the valley to the waterfalls like Vernal and Nevada Falls were indeed crowded with people. It would have been hard to have held a personal conversation along any of those trails without being overheard by people around you. As you came up behind people having a hard time climbing up the rock stairways, it could be hard for you to get around them because of the steady stream of people coming the other direction.
However, I saw no neon. It was indeed what I would call a small town. And all you had to do to get away from people was simply walk off the road in any direction. The base of Ribbon Falls was not very far off the road, and once we got 25 yards off the road, we didn’t hear any traffic, and we only saw two other people, until we got back to the truck at the end of the day. It was like magic. Here we were in the legendary Yosemite Valley, and we had the place all to ourselves.
I think ‘overcrowded’ is a relative term.