Yosemite National Park
|Yosemite National Park (Photodisc/Getty)|
Yosemite National Park has many facilities accessible for people with physical disabilities. Ask the Accessibility Coordinator to answer questions not covered here. The park designates facilities as accessible if they comply with Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS).
Although not compliant, Yosemite also has several hikes that are wheelchair accessible with assistance. See them below under Activities in Yosemite Valley.
The Golden Access Passport waives entrance fees for citizens or permanent U.S. residents who have been medically determined to be blind or permanently disabled and, as a result, are eligible to receive benefits under federal law. The Passport admits the permit holder and passengers in one private non-commercial vehicle. Available free at park visitor centers and information stations.
Designated spaces show the international access symbol. These are reserved for visitors with physical disabilities whose vehicles display a special license plate or temporary disabled placard, available at park visitor centers (see below).
A temporary disabled placard is available at park visitor centers. Displayed on the windshield, it allows driving on paved roads closed to vehicle traffic (Happy Isles road and Mirror Lake/Meadow Road). Please drive with caution, for these roads are used by pedestrians and bicyclists.
Signal and Guide Dogs
Dogs must be leashed at all times. Signal and guide dogs are allowed on shuttle buses, on Yosemite Valley trails, in the backcountry, and in concessionaire accommodations, shops, and restaurants.
Free Shuttle Buses
Free shuttle buses operate daily in Yosemite Valley. For the current (seasonal) schedule see the back page of the Yosemite Guide. Three buses are identified with the international access symbol. These run on the regular shuttle bus schedule and are equipped with front-door wheelchair lifts and tie-downs for two wheelchairs. If you need these buses, ask any shuttle bus driver when the next bus with special equipment will arrive at your stop.
Telephones with Volume Control
Located in Yosemite Valley at the Village Store (parking lot side); Curry Village front desk; and Yosemite Lodge lobby.
A 20-minute captioned orientation slide program is shown throughout the day at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center in the West Auditorium (see Auditorium Access, below). Inside the visitor center a captioned video describes popular park features.
In Yosemite Valley: Accessible structures are located in Yosemite Village at Degnan's Deli, the pizza/ice cream parlor, and the Village Grill (ramp on far east side); The Ahwahnee dining room, bar, and patio; the Yosemite Lodge cafeteria, Four Seasons and Broiler Room restaurants; Curry Village cafeteria, hamburger/ice cream stand, and Terrace Bar; and Happy Isles snack stand.
Outside Yosemite Valley: The Tuolumne Meadows Lodge dining room is usable with assistance (two risers) but has no accessible restroom. The Glacier Point snack stand is accessible. The Wawona Hotel dining room is accessible with assistance. At the Badger Pass Ski Area the first-floor food service area and deck are accessible.
TTY phones are located at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center and Curry Village front desk.
Post Office Access
Disabled parking and letter-drop box are located behind the Yosemite Village post office. Enter from the access lane adjacent to the visitor center parking area.
Yosemite Medical/Dental Clinic
Accessible through rear emergency entrance. Wheelchair rental available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Generally in summer only; off-season hours variable.
Activities in Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley is the focal point for most visitors to the park, not only because of the lodging, major campgrounds, and concessions located here, but because of its spectacular granite walls and waterfalls.
The Valley Visitor Center, Indian Cultural Exhibit, and Museum Gallery are accessible. The entrance ramp to the auditoriums requires assistance (14.1 percent grade for last 17 feet). The Valley Visitor Center has automatic-opening front doors.
Sightseeing by Car
Many of Yosemite's finest scenic views and points of interest can be viewed by automobile. Purchasing the Yosemite Road Guide, which contains maps and descriptions keyed to roadside markers on Yosemite's major roads, or an audio cassette tape describing the major scenic features of Yosemite Valley, will enhance your tour. These as well as helpful publications are available at park visitor centers and retail outlets.
Interpretive programs and religious services are presented in the auditoriums behind the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. When the visitor center is open, enter through the front doors, then out the rear doors to the auditoriums. When closed, use the sidewalk to the left of the front entrance, past the restrooms and up toward the auditoriums. A wheelchair ramp leads to auditorium doorways. Assistance is required on the ramp (11.9 percent grade for 16 feet).
See the Yosemite Guide for interpretive activities marked, indicating suitability for all persons with disabilities. Other activities are noted "assistance required." Inaccessibility may be due to rough terrain or steep grades.
The Ahwahneechee Indian Village trail begins behind the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. Portions of the trail are paved but some of the area surrounding the structures is unpaved. "A Changing Yosemite" nature trail begins at the paved bicycle path in front of the visitor center. Trail guide brochures are located in boxes at trail starting points. Large-print versions are available at the visitor center.
For more roaming around the valley, a few other trails are wheelchair accessible with some assistance. Bridalveil Falls is an easy half-mile round trip to the base. Depart from the Falls parking area. Happy Isles is about the same, with vehicle access allowed with a placard. Mirror Lake can also be vehicle-accessed with a placard. Lower Yosemite Falls offers another half-mile jaunt with assistance; leave from Yosemite Falls Shuttle Stop #7.
Tours are conducted on buses and open-air trams. These vehicles do not have wheelchair lifts or tie-downs. Contact the concessionaire tour desks to determine whether tours meet your needs and to purchase tickets. Tour desks are located in Yosemite Valley at the Village Store, The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Lodge, and Curry Village.
The Happy Isles Nature Center is open in summer and possibly weekends in spring and fall. To get there by shuttle bus: exit at stop #16 and follow the paved path to the nature center. By auto: Display the disabled placard. Take the first right turn past the Day-Use Parking Area, signed "authorized vehicles only." At shuttle bus stop #16 turn right on the paved road. When approaching the nature center, park in the cleared space on the left. Do not use the obvious right-hand path to the center (no accessibility); instead, use the left-hand path to the front of the snack stand, then turn right. The accessible Happy Isles nature trail has been recently introduced.
The restroom and parking area are not accessible. There are no scheduled rides for disabled persons; visitors with special needs may be accommodated on an individual basis.
Camping In Yosemite Valley
Accessible sites are available in Lower Pines and Upper Pines campgrounds. The first loops in both campgrounds have asphalt paths and are level. In Lower Pines a paved path leads to a restroom with stalls that permit side transfer. Several tables have extended tops. Sunnyside Walk-In Campground (first come, first served) has no accessible sites, but has many level sites. Accessible restroom is available.
Lodging in Yosemite Valley
Guest accommodations in Yosemite are provided by the Park concessionaire. Reservations are strongly advised (209-252-4848). Please describe your disability because rooms not designated "accessible" may offer limited usability, and the approach may be difficult in rain or snow.
The Ahwahnee - Two cottages and five hotel rooms have accessible bathrooms and shower stalls. The ground floor of the hotel has an accessible passenger-loading zone. An accessible front desk, dining room, bar, gift shop, patio, telephone, drinking fountain, and tour-boarding area are also on the ground floor. An accessible unisex restroom on the mezzanine is identified by a sign and is reached by an accessible elevator. Disabled parking is available.
Yosemite Lodge - One accessible hotel room has an accessible bath and shower. Fourteen usable cabins (ramps may not meet UFAS code) have accessible bath facilities. Also, four cabins without private baths have ramps. Cabins may be difficult to approach due to rain or snow. Parking spaces are located close to the registration building.
The front lobby and tour desk are accessible by a ramp (far left) leading to the covered walkway into the lobby, also from a ramp at the right end of the building. Accessible restrooms, restaurants, and gift shops. Aisle clearance in the shops may be tight.
Curry Village - Ten usable cabins without bath have ramps that may not meet code. Accessible showers and restrooms are nearby. Two cabins with bath are usable. Units may be difficult to approach in rain or snow. Accessible restaurants, Mountain Shop, gift shop, Terrace Bar, bike rental, and tour desk. Walkway surfaces include asphalt, sand, and wood. Disabled parking is nearby.
Housekeeping Camp - Some units are usable with assistance. Accessible restrooms are in Section H. Accessible showers and laundry.
Outside Yosemite Valley
Throughout the park, a total of 186 miles of paved roads all offer a variety of scenery and vistas. Along the Tioga Road, many wayside exhibits describe vistas and points of natural and human history. See "Sightseeing by Car" (above) for information about purchasing the Yosemite Road Guide or an audio cassette tape; both are excellent aids to automobile sightseeing.
Northern Area of Yosemite
Big Oak Flat Entrance - The Information Station is open in summer; off-season hours are variable. Information desk, MISTIX campground reservation desk, and restrooms are accessible.
Hetch Hetchy O'Shaughnessy Dam, built between 1919 and 1923, dams the Tuolumne River, forming the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. An accessible roadway (no motor vehicles) runs across the dam to the tunnel entrance. Accessible restrooms.
Tioga Road - Closed in winter. This east-west road crosses Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, offering roadside exhibits at vista points. Tenaya Lake picnic area is located at the east end of Tenaya Lake.
Tuolumne Meadows - The Visitor Center, open late spring to early fall, is accessible. To get there: Drive through the parking lot and turn right, up the incline on the service road. Park in the designated area and use the rear entrance ramp. Accessible restrooms are located at the Tuolumne Meadows Store/Grill and at the Lembert Dome parking area. Neither Tuolumne Meadows Campground nor Tuolumne Meadows Lodge is accessible for overnight accommodations. Entrance to the Lodge dining room has two risers and is usable with assistance. The dining room does not have accessible restrooms.
Southern Area of Yosemite
Glacier Point - This famed vista point is accessible by a 300-yard paved path from the parking lot. Follow the signs. Restrooms, snack stand, and gift shop are accessible by another paved path from the parking lot.
Badger Pass Ski Area - Disabled and sit-ski lessons are offered by reservation. Phone 209-372-1330. On the first floor of the day lodge, the food service area, deck, and restrooms are accessible. Disabled parking available on request.
Wawona Hotel - The lobby (dining room) can be reached, with assistance, from the entrance ramp at the back of the hotel (there is one step up into the lobby area). From the front parking area follow the ramped walk along the right-hand side of the hotel toward the rear entrance. The dining room restroom is not accessible.
Historic Hill Studio - This art gallery near the Wawona Hotel has a mechanical lift at the rear of the building. Open seasonally.
Pioneer Yosemite History Center - A collection of structures from Yosemite's past (cabins, stables, etc.), are viewable from outside where plaques describe their history. The terrain surrounding the structures is not paved. Interiors are not accessible. An accessible restroom is located near the parking lot.
Mariposa Grove - Automobiles with disabled placards may drive through the grove behind any scheduled tram tour. A free audio cassette tour tape is available. The Museum is accessible. The Big Trees Gift Shop has a ramped entrance. An accessible restroom is located at the parking lot.
Two accessible sites at Wawona Campground C-loop are first come, first served. Accessible restroom is available.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication