After smoke and flames from the Ferguson Fire forced Yosemite National Park to shut down for several weeks last summer, fans of the park have plenty to be happy about this spring. Between the reintroduction of a native frog species, an especially strong waterfall season, and new lodging options, there are plenty of reasons to book a trip to one of California’s best national parks right now.
Red-legged frogs return to Yosemite Valley
After a decades-long absence, the California red-legged frog (featured in Mark Twain’s short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”) is thriving once again in Yosemite Valley.
The native species disappeared from the national park after predatory, non-native bullfrogs spread throughout the valley and ate them all. Once the bullfrogs were eradicated, the red-legged frogs were reintroduced under a partnership with the Yosemite Conservancy, the San Francisco Zoo, and federal and state agencies. Working together, they bred thousands of tadpoles and adult frogs and released them into the park back in 2017 after the 50-year absence.
Welcome home California red-legged frog! Friday, 200 frogs were released in Yosemite Valley in an ongoing collaborative effort to reestablish them in the park after a 50 year absence. Thanks @sfzoo @NatureBridge @YoseConservancy @USFWS @CaliforniaDFW! https://t.co/508r3zCPm8 pic.twitter.com/QnSFtFZiWc — Yosemite National Park (@YosemiteNPS) May 6, 2019
This spring, ecologists discovered clusters of eggs from those frogs throughout Yosemite Valley, indicating that they are breeding and thriving again.
“It’s unusual to find eggs in any location and to find them this soon is a strong indication that red-legged frogs are adapting successfully to the riparian areas where we reintroduced them,” said Yosemite National Park superintendent Mike Reynolds.
Around 4,000 eggs and tadpoles, plus 500 adult frogs have already been reintroduced to areas near Yosemite’s meadows, alpine lakes, and Merced River banks, with another 275 being released in June.
A wet winter means waterfall season will be epic
It’s not news to any Californian that this winter and spring were particularly wet. But all that rain means that Yosemite’s waterfalls will run extra strong this season.
“The April snow survey confirmed what a big year it was in terms of snowpack,” Scott Gediman, the Yosemite National Park spokesman, told the Fresno Bee. “With the recent warm weather, we’ve seen great waterfalls and they are going strong right now.”
Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Vernal Fall are all in full flow according to park officials and will reach their peak between late spring and early summer. For more on when each waterfall is at its strongest, visit the National Park Service website.
Road crews are working on Tioga Road about one mile west of White Wolf in about eight feet of snow. That’s too deep for the rotary plows, so a dozer goes out ahead to remove some snow so the rotary plows can get to work. More frequent updates: https://t.co/ckSQi1JPOc. pic.twitter.com/rmtPmQlVTL — Yosemite National Park (@YosemiteNPS) May 4, 2019
Keep in mind that all that snow means that both Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road will remain closed until around late May or June while they continue to be plowed. Other park roads, including Highway 41, 140, and 120 from the western entrance of the park are open all year long.
Several new lodging options are opening nearby
AutoCamp opened its largest property yet this April with 15 luxury canvas tents, 80 Airstreams, and three cabin suites just outside of the national park boundaries in Midpines, California. The upscale campground also features a two-story clubhouse with outdoor fire pits and lounge areas for guests. Book Now: From $225, autocamp.com
The existing Tenaya Lodge, near Yosemite’s South Gate, is set to debut 50 new Explorer Cabins on its property in early summer. The two-bedroom cabins will each be 650 square feet and include living rooms, kitchens, and fireplaces, making them ideal for families or groups of friends traveling together. Book Now: From $719, tenayalodge.com
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.
>> Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Guide to Yosemite National Park
Lyndsey Matthews Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.