The thundering waterfalls are an excellent reason to visit Yosemite over the next week, but certainly not the only reason. Saturday through April 24 is National Park Week, meaning free admission and special activities.
Waterfalls in Yosemite National Park likely will reach peak flows between now and May. Thunderstorms, showers and intense periods of rain on top of snow have unleashed snowmelt in Yosemite Valley, the San Francisco Chronicle reported this week.
High water closed the Merced River to rafting for a few days, the Chronicle reported. At Pohono Bridge, west of Bridalveil Fall, the Merced River hit nearly 8 feet at the gauge. That’s nearly three times the flow on April 1, though still below flood stage, which is 10 feet, the newspaper reported.
The river is the highest it’s been in four or five years, Eugene Moisa, a Yosemite visitor-use assistant, told The Modesto Bee on Wednesday. Last year, Bridalveil Fall and Yosemite Falls dried up around June, he said, but he expects the park’s waterfalls, including Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, to last through mid- to late summer this year.
“There’s a lot more snow sitting up there in the high country,” he said.
Miranda Peters, a visitor to Yosemite from Coarsegold in Madera County, told The Bee the falls are “pitching off so much water you can feel the vibration in the ground.”
The April 1 snow survey measured the water content of the Merced watershed at 91 percent of normal, and the Tuolumne watershed at 89 percent of normal.
Between Saturday and April 24, Yosemite will celebrate National Park Week, Earth Day, the California State Park ranger program’s 150th anniversary and National Junior Ranger Day.
Park entrance fees will be waived during the week to celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service. Camping fees and all other fees remain applicable. The park will host many special events throughout the week, culminating in the Earth Day Festival on April 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in front of the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center.
Events throughout the week include showings of Ken Burns’ films “This is America” and “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” There will be special walks with park rangers; hikes with the National Park Services’ centennial partner, REI; and opportunities to become a centennial junior ranger.
Saturday is National Junior Ranger Day, offering programs to allow kids to earn a badge. April 24 is Park Rx Day, with recreational activities that encourage healthy lifestyles and promote physical and mental well-being.
For more information about all of the events in the park, including the Earth Day Festival, go to www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/guide.htm.