5 Ways to Avoid the Crowds in Yosemite National Park


I’m very fortunate to live in arguably one of the most beautiful regions of the world, the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. The landscapes here are huge and dramatic and stunning. And if that wasn’t enough, one of the world’s most famous national parks, Yosemite, is a mere 45 minutes down the road from my house.

Yosemite is a playground of towering waterfalls, granite monoliths, idyllic meadows, and vast wildernesses. It’s a place everyone should see at least once in their lives. And in fact, more and more people are doing just that. Last year Yosemite had 5mil visitors, nearly 1 million more people than the year before.

And while it’s incredible that so many people are enjoying this spectacular park, the extreme number of visitors is creating other issues like overcrowding, severe traffic, and an increased impact on the park’s facilities. And no matter who you are, it’s tough to appreciate the grandeur of El Capitan or Yosemite Falls when you’re stuck for three hours in stop and go traffic.

So along with the good people over at Mono County Tourism I wanted to give you 5 tips to have a better, more personal visit to Yosemite National Park, so that you can home with better memories, and better photos.

First, plan your visit for off peak hours, days, and seasons. If you show up in the park at noon on a summer Saturday you’re probably going to hate life a little bit. But arrive at 7am on a Tuesday and you’ll be able to visit the spots you want when you want.

Furthermore, the park is open year round but receives the vast majority of its visitation between May and September. In fact, Yosemite receives almost twice as many visitors in August alone as it does in December, January, and February combined. Not only is the park stunningly beautiful in those winter months, but if you visit then it will feel like you have the entire place to yourself.

If peak summer season is your only option you can still save yourself a ton of headaches by taking public transportation. Yosemite has a public bus system called YARTS that serves every single one of the surrounding communities. So you can leave your car somewhere like Fresno, Mammoth, or Sonora, and have someone else drive you into the park.

Not only is this great because you don’t have to search for parking but your national Park entrance fee is also included in your bus ticket price and kids ride for free. And once you’re inside there are free shuttle buses to take you around Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows. It’s an easy, cheap, and convenient way to get around that keeps you out of traffic and helps reduce gridlock.

Yosemite is virtually the same size as Rhode Island, and yet the extreme majority of all visitors only visit this tiny little slice of the park. No wonder it gets so congested! But Yosemite has a number of other breathtaking areas, like Hetch Hetchy Valley, Tioga Road, Tuolumne Meadows, Glacier Point Road, Wawona, and more, that are all easily accessible*, and nowhere near as crowded and chaotic as Yosemite Valley. Be willing to explore further afield and I guarantee you will get away from the crowds.

*some of these areas are subject to seasonal closures.



Did you know that most visitors to Yosemite National Park never get more than 1/4 mile away from their cars? And yet, Yosemite has over 800 miles of hiking trails within its boundaries. So trade in your car tires for hiking shoes and instead of being surrounded by thousands of other people you will find yourself alone in nature, which is the key to having a personal experience in the park. Even if you are not super fit there are hundreds of places in Yosemite where only a few minutes’ walk will lead you to your own private slice of heaven.

Yosemite is a stunning place, but it’s also just one area within a truly spectacular part of California. Just outside Yosemite you can find thousands of places that are as interesting and beautiful as the park, but which don’t see even a fraction of the crowds.

For example, just here in Mono County we have the Walker River, the Twin Lakes area, Bodie, Mono Lake, Lundy Canyon, the Mono Craters, the June Lake Loop, Devil’s Postpile National Monument, the Ansel Adams Wilderness, the Mammoth Lakes Basin, McGee Creek, Convict Lake, the John Muir Wilderness, and on and on and on.



Whatever you’re looking for, be it history, relaxation, or gobsmacking scenery, you can find it along the Eastern Sierra.

So like I mentioned, Yosemite and the surrounding area are incredible, worth as many visits to them as you can make. And by following these tips you can have as personal, meaningful, and beautiful a trip as possible.

As always thanks for reading. Be sure to follow Mono County Tourism on Facebook and Instagram for tons of information about visiting this amazing part of the world. And until next time have fun and happy shooting.

PhotoPills Mammoth Lakes 1-Day Bootcamp!

PhotoPills Mammoth Lakes 1-Day Bootcamp!

DESCRIPTION:

Get ready to learn how to plan, shoot, and edit any photo you imagine with the Sun, the Moon, and the Milky Way.

Joshua Cripps from Pro Photo Tips will give you all you need to nail your shots, from equipment to camera settings and editing. And Rafael (the bard) from the PhotoPills team will teach you how to use the PhotoPills app to plan your photo ideas. So you’re always at the right place at the right time, to capture the scene you want, to tell the story you want.

After the theory class, we’ll get to practice in the field till dawn.

PROGRAM:

10 – 11am: Milky Way and Star Trails Planning with PhotoPills

11 – 12:30am: Milky Way Photography and Post Processing

Break for Lunch

2 – 3:30pm: Sun and Moon Planning with PhotoPills

3:30 – 5pm: Long Exposure with Filters

5 – 6pm: Examples and Q&A

Break for Dinner

7:30 pm Photo escape near Mammoth lakes (Sunset and Milky Way)

Life Lessons Learned Through Photography: Go Big Or Go Home

Life Lesson 7: Go Big Or Go Home

This is the last in a series of 7 videos discussing important life lessons that photography has taught me. And this one is arguably the most important.

Ok, I know that is one egregiously cheesy title: Go Big or Go Home? It sounds like something a drunk frat boy would shout before downing another shot of Jaegermeister and jumping off the roof into the pool. But if we look a little closer we’ll find that there is substantial meaning there.

For me that phrase means to do something all the way or not at all. Whatever you’re doing, do it as well and completely as you can. In short: do it right. If it’s something that represents you personally or professionally, don’t half-ass it, and don’t quit if you know it can be done better.

Another way to look at it is this: is it Good Enough, or is it actually Good? After all, there is a huge difference between the two. I can’t tell you how many prints and mats I’ve had to scrap because they had some tiny flaw; something I know my customers would never notice. But I knew it was there and simply couldn’t sell something to a customer that wasn’t perfect. It might have been Good Enough, but it wasn’t Good.

But why not settle for Good Enough? The reason is when you care about something enough to do it right, to try as hard as you possibly can to make it not just Good Enough, but well and truly Good, that’s when you start to push your own limits, to produce remarkable things, and to make people stand up and take notice.

Let me give you an example: the first time I visited New Zealand exclusively for photography was in 2007, and I was still learning the ropes of the craft. I also had a Good Enough attitude. I had visions for shots that I wanted, but that might be difficult or uncomfortable or expensive to achieve.

“Eh,” I told myself, “when I’m a professional then I’ll get that shot. When I’m a professional I’ll stand in that freezing cold stream to get that composition I really want. When I’m a professional I’ll start hiking at 3 am to get to that lake by sunrise. When I’m a professional I’ll pay for that helicopter ride to the top of the glacier. For now I’ll just settle for where I’m standing. It’s good enough”

It took a few years but I ultimately realized that I had that sentiment completely backwards. It’s not as if someone bestows upon you the title of “Professional Photographer” and you are all of a sudden then endowed with magical abilities to scale mountains, stand in icy streams, and afford helicopter rides.

Rather it’s the opposite: it’s your commitment to your craft that makes you a professional. It’s your dedication to an image that makes you wade into that frozen river. It’s your drive to get up early and hike long miles to capture an amazing vista. It’s your willingess to go the extra mile to fly to the top of the glacier that results in unique images. It’s all about doing it right. Being Good, not just Good Enough.

So when I returned to New Zealand in 2012 for a month-long photo adventure it was with this mindset: whatever it took to get the image I wanted, that’s what I was going to do. I wanted to photograph the Southern Alps from the air, so I spent the money on a scenic flight.

My result was this intimate landscape shot of the Godley River and Lake Tekapo; it’s now one of the most unique photos in my portfolio.

Godley View photography life lessons

I wanted to photograph a glacier, not just from its face, but from within the glacier itself.

ice arch photography life lessons

So I took a heli-hiking tour on the Fox Glacier, and was able to capture this photo from within the heart of the ice itself.

Light Within photography life lessons

I envisioned a shot of the icebergs in Hooker Lake, so I purchased a pair of hip waders and spent two nights in a row freezing my legs solid in the lake, and hiking the miles there and back in the dark in order to give myself the opportunity

And I came away with this photo, which is now one of my personal favorites.

hooker lake photography life lessons

Needless to say, these are photos that wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t done what it took to follow my vision to its completion.

And I’m not trying to make myself sound like the baddest dude who ever lived (cuz I’m pretty far down that list), but rather just to illustrate the mindset I now have when approaching my photography, as well as the other things I care about: figure out what it takes to do it right and do it. Don’t half-ass your life because you’ll only end up with regrets, and in the end you won’t have a chance to do it over.

As always, thanks for watching! You can see more in this series here:

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

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How To Autofocus in the Dark? Photography Question Of The Week

Focusing your camera in the dark is darn near impossible, whether you use manual or autofocus. Here are some tips to get perfect focus even when there’s not a lot of light to work with.

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

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Lightroom: How to Really Really Really Use the Gradient Filter, Part 2


How to use the gradient filter in Lightroom. This tool is part of LR’s suite of powerful local editing tools. In this 2-part video learn when to use the grad filter, how to create, edit, and layer gradient filters, keyboard shortcuts, presets, real-world examples, best practices and more.

Until next time have fun and happy shooting!

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

Join Josh on Social!
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Correct Neutral Density Filter Color Casts – Photo Question of the Week

Neutral Density (ND) Filters often have strong color casts. What are the most effective ways of correcting them? Find out in this week’s question.

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

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Life Lessons Learned Through Photography: Plenty Of Fish In The Sea

Life Lesson 6: There Are Plenty Of Fish In The Sea

Do you find your blood pressure rising when you miss out on a great photo? If so, then you need to learn Zen and the Art of Landscape Photography, because there’s always another great shot waiting for you in the future.

Any landscape photographer will tell you how much it hurts to miss a shot. Maybe you got stuck in traffic and the sun set without you. Maybe you risked going to one spot and the light blew up somewhere else. When these things happen it’s like someone slowly and painfully sucking the life force out of you.

At least that’s how I used to feel. Until I learned the only real answer to losing out on an opportunity is to take a deep breath, enjoy the experience as best you can, and then move on. Because you know what I realized? If you go out looking you will ALWAYS find another sunset.

Let me tell you a story about my friend. He got married a few years ago, then went on his honeymoon in Europe and had the time of his life. When he got back to California I asked him about the trip. He told me about all the great things they saw and did, the amazing food they ate, and the lively people they met.

He also mentioned how one night, when they were just chilling in their room overlooking the Mediterranean, he and his wife saw the most beautiful sunset they’d ever seen. Me, being a photographer and somewhat of a sunset connoisseur, got pretty excited about that and told him I couldn’t wait to see the pics.

When the photos finally showed up online I hungrily dove in to them, searching for that epic sunset. Then I saw the pictures of it and well, I was a little disappointed. Not because it wasn’t a beautiful sunset; it absolutely was. But was it one of the most beautiful I’d ever seen in my life? Not by a mile.

And that’s when it hit me: I had no right to ever complain about missing out on shooting a sunset, because I’d already seen so many incredible light shows that my cup was overflowing with beauty. I mean, if I had missed a crazy sunset over Santa Cruz, I couldn’t really be upset, because I’d been fortunate enough to have already seen others. And if I had missed those I couldn’t be upset because I’d seen other amazing ones in Death Valley. And I’d seen this one in Santa Cruz:

santa cruz sunset life lessons

and this one in South Africa

south africa sunset photography life lessons

and this one in New Zealand,

New Zealand Sunset - Photography Life Lessons

and this one in Santa Cruz,

Santa Cruz Sunset photography life lessons and this one in the high Sierra,

sierra sunset photography life lessons

and,

tgif sunset Photography Life Lessons

on and on and on and on.

I realized had a pretty good track record when it came to beautiful sunsets. And suddenly I had an epiphany: if this was the trend in my past, wouldn’t it likely be the trend in my future as well? In other words: if I kept looking for amazing sunsets, I was going to keep finding amazing sunsets. And that instead of being disappointed by the ones I’d missed, I could choose instead to be excited about the ones I’d see in the future. It was at that point that a great calm descended over me, because I knew I never again had to be upset about missing good light.

Of course this was all a metaphor for life in general, which meant that I had no right to be upset about missing any opportunity because there would always be another one down the road. I realized that opportunity only knocks once if you give up. But it knocks time and time again if you’re always there to open the door. And that you will find what you’re looking for, no matter what it is, but the key is you have to keep looking.

As always, thanks for watching! You can see more in this series here:

Lesson 7: Go Big or Go Home

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

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Small, Cheap, Light, Awesome Wildlife Camera?

What is a small, cheaper, lighter, and yet still great setup for shooting wildlife photos if you can’t afford or don’t want to lug around a gigantic 600mm lens? Find out in this week’s question.

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

Join Josh on Social!
http://instagram.com/joshuacrippsphotography
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Lightroom: How to Really Really Really Use the Gradient Filter, Part 1

How to use the gradient filter in Lightroom. This tool is part of LR’s suite of powerful local editing tools. In this 2-part video learn when to use the grad filter, how to create, edit, and layer gradient filters, keyboard shortcuts, presets, real-world examples, best practices and more.

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

Join Josh on Social!
http://instagram.com/joshuacrippsphotography
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How to find AMAZING light – Photography Question of the Week

Are there any resources or ways to increase the odds of having amazing light when going out to shoot landscape photos? Find out in this week’s question.

Until next time have fun and happy shooting!

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

Join Josh on Social!
http://instagram.com/joshuacrippsphotography
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What Camera Settings Should I Use? – Photography Question of the Week

Mystified by what camera settings are the “right” ones? Learn a simple system to help you choose perfect camera settings every single time.

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

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