Yosemite offers heavenly views, and hellish traffic
May 26, 1997
Web posted at: 9:21 p.m. EDT (0121 GMT)
From Correspondent Rusty Dornin
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (CNN) -- It's rush hour at Yosemite, and gridlock is as much a part of the scenery as towering waterfalls and glacier-carved cliffs.
Seven miles long and a mile wide, Yosemite attracts about four million visitors a year. With the valley all but cut off from the outside world except for a bottleneck of an entrance and a few mountain roads, the park presents a traffic nightmare.
At times, it seems to be choking on its own popularity. And the flood of 1997, which destroyed cabins and campgrounds, has only exacerbated the problem -- at least in the short term. There are 550 fewer parking spots in the park.
Trying to discourage auto traffic, park officials have raised the price of admission to $20 and are now working on a comprehensive plan to restrict cars.
Despite the lines, congestion and pervasive fumes, Yosemite still has redeeming qualities. All it takes is a glimpse of the scenery to see why the crowds flock here. (485K/52 sec. QuickTime slide show)
The close encounters with wildlife are another attraction. "We've had bears in the campground every night. I tell people 'store your food properly,'" camp host Ralph Derrick said.
Stories abound of animals tearing open cars to find a meal -- adding to Yosemite's mystique.
"They'll grab the whole door frame, they'll peel it down. If people have food in the trunk of their car, they'll often shred their way to the back seat," said wildlife biologist Steve Thompson.
"Over the past five years we, on the average, have had to kill three bears a year, in some years we kill none, others five or six."
All the wonders of a wild life experience can be found here, along with what many would like to escape.