Yosemite National Park
Mariposa Grove & Wawona
Wawona is quieter and more rustic than Yosemite Valley, and the meadows, rivers, and pines are very scenic. The Mariposa Grove is filled giant sequoia tall trees, the largest trees in the world. Several families recommend Wawona as their favorite area in Yosemite.
Sequoias evolved about the same time as the dinosaurs, but unlike the dinosaurs, the sequoia trees continue to thrive today. The Mariposa Grove was preserved and set aside for public use in 1864 by Congress and President Lincoln. The grove has walking trails for kids of all ages, grandparents too. Bring a picnic and allow plenty of time to explore these "giants."
In summer months, a shuttle is available from parking lot to the grove. Arrive at the parking lot early, as it does fill up by mid-morning, and there's no overflow parking.
Hill Studio Visitor Center
- Stop into the national park visitor center to pick up maps, local information, books about giant sequoias. Also see an exhibit from the studio of artist Thomas Hill, who painted Yosemite landscapes and lived in Wawona.
Pioneer Yosemite History Center
Here kids get a chance to see what pioneer life was like in the mid-19th century - covered bridge over the river, miner and homestead cabins, the Wells Fargo stagecoach office, bakery, jail, wooden buckboards, stagecoaches, mountain and farm wagons.
Tip: Next the parking lot are
, also the Tall Trees store with ice cream and cold drinks.
- In 1875, the Wawona Stage Road was built to carry visitors to Yosemite Valley. Today, take a short but sweet ride (10 min.) in an authentic stagecoach, down a bumpy dirt road, over the covered bridge, and around the cabins. Buy tickets at the gray barn, once a blacksmith and stage repair shop. Rides May to September.
Go horseback riding
- Take a two hour ride on the Alder Creek Trail through manzanita and pine trees. Half day and full day trips into the back country are also available. Stables are open in summer only, through Labor Day.
- Walk to the Swinging Bridge over South Fork of the Merced River, which has swimming holes and fun places to wade and swim. Bring inner tubes.
Hike to Chilnualna Falls
- Take a short (less than half a mile) picturesque hike to the lower cascade of Chilnualna Falls. In summer, if the water is low, kids can stand under the waterfall. Park at the Chilnualna Fall Trailhead and follow the trail to the lower falls. Bring a picnic and make a day of it.
Chilnualna Falls is a series of cascades. A much longer trail, 8 miles round trip, continues up the creek to the top of the falls.
Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad
- Kids will enjoy this one hour ride on a vintage steam train, “The Logger.” Roll down the tracks once used by logging trains in the 19th century, through a towering forest of pine trees.
Along with the steam train ride is also
, fun bookstore, Thornberry Museum with 19th century artifacts of daily life, sandwich shop and
The steam train operates April - October.
for schedule and fares. Tip: In summer, it's best to buy tickets online in advance.
Fish Camp is located on Hwy 41, outside the south entrance to Yosemite National Park.