I haven’t posted here in awhile because I just finished back-to-back workshops in Death Valley and Yosemite. But I wanted to give a quick update on conditions in Yosemite Valley. In short, it’s beautiful. At the start of our workshop last week most of the dogwoods were still in that greenish stage, but by the end of the week most of the blossoms had turned white, and were in great shape. It looks like an above-average year for dogwoods, as many trees have plentiful blossoms. They will continue to bloom for a couple more weeks, but they’re most photogenic early, while the blossoms are still fresh, and before the leaves get too large (which tends to hide the flowers).
And the waterfalls were very full – as full as I’d ever seen them in late April, despite rather cool temperatures. Forecasters are predicting very warm weather this week, so the water levels will be rising from all the snowmelt. In fact they’re predicting minor flooding in Yosemite Valley tonight, tomorrow night, and Thursday night before rain and cooler temperatures arrive this weekend.
But if you’re thinking about visiting Yosemite Valley this spring, avoid weekends. The news media has been hyping the waterfalls in Yosemite, bringing large crowds, and the traffic last weekend was awful. I heard that cars were backed up from the Arch Rock entrance station along Highway 140 all the way back to Cedar Lodge on Saturday. That’s eight miles. Since then Highway 120 has reopened, which should help reduce the lines at the entrance stations a bit, but the worst congestion is in Yosemite Valley itself. Southside Drive leading into the eastern end of the Valley becomes a parking lot when there’s lots of traffic, and it can take two hours or more to get from the El Cap crossover to Sentinel Bridge. In short, avoid the weekends if at all possible, and go on a weekday.
Here are a couple of dogwood photos from last week. We had a great time during the workshop, and I’m looking forward to going back to the valley – on a weekday!
— Michael Frye
Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.