Yosemite pitfalls to avoid


It's not just that Yosemite's ursine residents make regular visits to campgrounds. (The carved bear at Cedar Lodge, above, doesn't count.) They attempt hundreds of car break-ins yearly, shattering windows. Not only do campers use bear lockers for their food, all overnight guests are required to take all toothpaste, detergent, shampoo and air-fresheners out of their cars, lest the scent lure bears. The desk crew at the Yosemite Lodge also urges families to pull out child seats and empty ice chests overnight and stow them in guest rooms.


Park officials were able to open seasonal roads that lead across Tioga Pass and up to Glacier Point by May 11, the earliest date in years. But that lack of snowpack meant that most of the park's waterfalls peaked in April and May. Yosemite Falls, the most popular single destination in Yosemite Valley, could dry up by July — a big disappointment for anyone who comes unaware. (Bridalveil Fall, also visible from the valley, usually flows through the summer, no matter the rainfall.)


In late May, when other gas stations in and around the park were charging about $3.50 per gallon, the El Portal Shell was hovering at $4.35 for a gallon of regular. So take note: There are gas stations usually way cheaper in Oakhurst and in the park at Wawona, Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows.


During the last three years, the park has been averaging one death per month. In "Death in Yosemite," authors Michael P. Ghiglieri and Charles R. "Butch" Farabee Jr. analyze more than 1,500 deaths in the park since the mid-19th century, including 79 since 1999. Among them are 144 drownings, 122 deaths in hiking and scrambling incidents, 104 deaths in rock-climbing efforts and 159 in motor-vehicle accidents.