I added another national park to my list last week as I flew to California and traveled through Yosemite National Park with an old friend from Oregon. Each year I try to visit 10 new national parks and Yosemite makes number seven for this year.
National parks are all beautiful as one might expect, each having their own striking features and distinctive beauty.
As beautiful as Yosemite is, with El Capitan, Half Dome, the high gray canyons carved out by ancient glaciers, and Glacier Point, the most interesting feature of the park was the people. First of all, Yosemite is more like a destination resort, unlike other national parks I am familiar with in the southwest. There were thousands of people, biking, hiking, playing in the water, rock climbing and horseback riding. There was music in the park, speakers and displays which gave the park a much different feel from what I have experienced in the past..
Even though we made reservations for a cabin months earlier, the only one available last week was a tent cabin, which amounted to a canvassed tent set on a wood foundation with two small cots, a dresser and one very bright electric light. There are 721 tents randomly placed in the park area and each was only about two feet from the neighboring campsite. Because of the heat, we had to keep our windows (or canvas flaps) open. Many of the windows seem to line up with the neighbor's window so at times I almost felt like a voyeur as I sat on my cot reading a magazine and could glance over and see the title of the book the neighbor woman was reading on her cot. The whole tent scene reminded me of a military unit in some remote mountainous country.
I love to people-watch anyway and I certainly got an eye full while I was there. In Utah and New Mexico there seems to be a similar type of person who travels or hikes through the national parks. Not in California. There was every type of person imaginable from every part of the world. The most interesting person was a beautiful older woman walking through the tents in a formal gown and high heals late one evening on her way to dinner or a ball, no doubt, at one of the higher-end lodges near the visitor center.
On the third day of our trip we headed over the mountains towards Nevada and found the most beautiful meadows, mountains and canyons. We were still in the park but there were very few people in these areas and the scenery was spectacular, reminding me of areas in Montana, Idaho and Oregon. Particularly impressive were the water falls.
Although we didn't see a lot of wildlife, people seemed particularly impressed with the bears. Warning of bears bothering cabins, campgrounds and even vehicles were everywhere and twice we ran across bears along the roadside. Only in California do people just stop their vehicles in the middle of the road when they spot a bear, grab their cameras and head off to photograph the creature in the wild. Consequently traffic comes to a stop until the picture talking is finished and they resume their travels.
The more I see America's National Parks the more impressed I am of the diversity of beauty in our country. The steep gray walls of the glacier canyons are so different from the red canyons we are familiar with here in Utah.
But of all the parks I have traveled through including those in Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Arizona and Montana, I still feel the most enjoyable and beautiful national parks lie right here in our own back yards in Southern Utah.