From the monthly archives:

April 2011 

Part of the Sac Bee Story: Read the whole article at the link above

“One San Diego computer expert said it is obvious to him that the park’s reservation system in general has become vulnerable to unscrupulous wheeler-dealers.

The 49-year-old systems engineer, who did not want his name published for fear of reprisal from online profiteers, said he discovered the Craigslist ads after repeated attempts to get legitimate reservations failed.

Initially, he said, he and his wife commandeered the phone and computer and contacted reservations at precisely 7 a.m. on Feb. 15. The telephone line was busy; the Web site was "inaccessible," he said.

By the time he reached a reservations person at 7:15 a.m., the park was sold out, he said.

The following month, he recruited 20 family members to make a full-scale assault – 10 by phone, 10 by Internet. This time, he said, a reservation clerk informed one family member at 7:15 a.m. that all the Valley sites again were gone, with only a few outside the Valley remaining.

The San Diego man later spotted a Craigslist ad, and was quoted $560 for seven nights at two campsites in the Valley. He declined the arrangement, describing such profiteers as "thieves of our national park system."

Read more:


There are 5 group campgrounds in Yosemite, a maximum of 30 people are allowed in each group campsite.  It appears that the Park Service is not enforcing the rules and granting special access to public campgrounds.

This is the  information taken directly from one of the private tour operators website outlining what, where, and the cost as well as other information on this private offering.  See below.

Upon arrival, you will receive a packet of information, including maps for the hike, campsite tags, car tags, etc.  NOTE: There is a limit of 2 vehicles per campsite in Upper Pines so some vehicles may need to be parked in the Curry Village lot nearby – please be prepared for this possibility.

MEALS: Meals provided for each of the options include Breakfast on two of the days & Dinner on two of the days.   A team of dedicated caterers will be creating healthy, delicious full meals served right in Base Camp!  Detailed meal plans will be furnished upon registration with the confirmation email.  All other meals are on your own.

BASE CAMP: Base Camp is located at site # 76 in the Upper Pines CampgroundThat’s where you will check in, find leaders, and meet for meals.

HOW TO REGISTER: Turn in a completed registration form with liability releases for each member of your party with cash or check made out to XXXX.  If you prefer to pay by credit card, contact XXXXXXat XXXXXXX for instructions.  Confirmation of registration will be made via email.  Registration is first come, first served and this trip fills early, so don’t delay.  (Note: You must be a paid member of this organization to participate)

LODGING: We have space in Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley for about 230 campers in campground sites for tents, trailers, & limited sites for RVs (size restrictions in place – we will notify you upon receipt of your registration if we are able to accommodate your RV). Showers are available at nearby Curry Village. In order to maximize our accommodations, you may be sharing a site with others (up to 6 people total/site) – either tent campers or RV/trailer.  Please note on your registration form if there is another registrant you would like to share a site with, we will do our best to meet your request.

COST: $159 per person for the 4day/3night option, $199 for the 5day/4night option. Children under age 5 are free. Note: There is also a National Park entrance fee of $20 per car, not included in the price. This trip is reserved for people who are current members.

MORE DETAILS: Below is a basic list of items to bring, but it is not complete.  A more detailed list will be sent to you with your confirmation email.

  • Sleeping Stuff: If you are tent camping in Upper Pines, you need tent, tarp for under the tent, sleeping pads, bags, etc.  If you are at a campsite, you’ll need everything for camping out!  Please be prepared for a variety of weather conditions – warm or cold, and possibly rain.
  • Meals: During both options, we will provide two dinners (Monday & Tuesday for option #1 and Thursday & Friday for option #2) as well as two breakfasts (Monday & Wednesday for option #1 and Thursday & Saturday for option #2).  All other meals are on your own.  Two options – cook your own in camp or eat at Curry Village, just a short distance away.
  • Bears:  Be aware that Yosemite is Bear Country and they are very strict about storage of food (bear lockers are provided and use is mandatory.  Bring your own lock).  Because of the possibility of sharing bear lockers with others in your campsite if your family/group is smaller than 6 people, please plan to pack as compact as possible.
  • A thorough list of suggested items for the trip, as well as guide for what you need to successfully hike Halfdome will be included in the acknowledgment email and will be posted on the website soon.”

Note: (This organization is offering permits to hike Half Dome. These permits as are the campgrounds on a reserved basis)


Yosemite Camping Reservations Gamed

by Ted on April 22, 2011

The nation’s third-most visited park has only 900 reserved campsites available.  They go for $20 a night but scalpers advertising on Craigslist are offering them for $100 or more.  Organized tour operators are also selling packages using public facilities.  The recently instated free permits to climb Half Dome are also being sold.  Note,,the National Park Service issues these permits FREE. 

A Yosemite National Park spokesman  said it appears that some scalpers may have devised ways of jumping the reservation queue, possibly through automated computer programs that can instantly snag cancellations.

Commercial and so called nonprofit touring companies are selling camping and recreation packages using the public camp grounds to conduct private group feeding, entertainment, group recreation activities and overall group management.


The Stage Route Tour

by Ted on April 8, 2011


Explore the turn-of-the-century stage to Yosemite

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Stage Route Tour is a six-hour bus tour that explores the late 1800s and early 1900s history of Eastern Madera County, concentrating on the stages that traveled to Yosemite. The tour starts at the Coarsegold Historic Museum, 31899 Hwy 41, and offers oral history from two tour leaders, both lifelong residents of the area. The bus travels from Coarsegold to Knowles where the group visits the old St. Ann’s Church and the Hill’s Pride Inn, the second oldest bar in California. On to the Raymond Museum to explore the old railroad station master’s home (and caboose!) and the history of the area where the tourists moved from the train to the stage to head to Yosemite. On up historic Road 600 with a stop at what was a booming mining town, Grub Gulch. On to the Wassama Roundhouse for an included lunch and lecture on this Indian Ceremonial building. The old town of Fresno Flats (now Oakhurst) is next. Travel some old wagon routes, then a walking tour of old Coarsegold completes the tour. Back to the Coarsegold Museum for a tour of three buildings, (the adobe “way-station” is over 100 years old) and an afternoon dessert and tea/coffee (about 2:30-3 p.m.).

The tour is by reservation only. Tickets are $40 ($35 members). Make reservations by sending a $10 nonrefundable deposit, your name and phone number to CHS (Coarsegold Historical Society), PO Box 117, Coarsegold, CA 93614. You may also call 559-642-4448 for information or send an email to


Saturday, June 4th, 3 to 8 p.m., 31899 Hwy 41

The Coarsegold Historical Society is pleased to again offer an entertaining afternoon and evening of music, good food and entertainment at its Coarsegold Historic Museum, 31899 Hwy 41 (just south of Chukchansi’s Lucky Lane). This year the outdoor event will feature the toe-tapping music of the String Bandits with young Jack Kinney on the fiddle. Also, the amazing “Prestidigitations of Dr. Phineas T. Barnabus” will delight everyone! There will be demonstrations of crafts and various arts. There will be a “Children’s booth” to keep them entertained. A snack shack will be available and an included picnic dinner will be served. We suggest attendees bring their own comfy chair; our chairs are metal.

Tickets for the event are $20 for adults until May 31; June 1 to 4 they will be $25. Children 6 to 12: $10; under 6 free. Tickets may be purchased at the museum and at other locations—call the museum for information: 559-642-4448 or mail a check with name and address to CHS, PO Box 117, Coarsegold, CA 93614 and tickets will be mailed. Email questions to:


Pack up your hiking boots and get ready to embark on an adventured filled with some of nature’s most stunning wonders. With the Yosemite Wildflowers and Waterfalls Package available through the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, guests will receive a personalized, guided tour of Yosemite’s secret spots where they can discover the park’s most gorgeous falls and vibrant wildflowers. And when it comes to waterfalls at Yosemite – with snowmelt as the driving force – spring and early summer are the peak times to glimpse falls at their mightiest. This package, starting at $575 for two adults, includes one-night’s accommodations in a Deluxe or Cottage Room, a customized guided tour for two and two lunches to go to enjoy during your adventure. Additional persons may be added on. To make reservations or receive more information, visit or call 888-514-2167. Use promo code WATERFALLS.

Whitewater River Rafting Package (April – July) As the Merced River tumbles and twists out of Yosemite Valley into a "raftable" whitewater river 4 miles below the town of El Portal, the adventure begins. Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions, the largest rafting outfitter in the Sierra region takes visitors through abundant rapids confined by a narrow corridor, making this package a memorable vacation for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure-seekers alike. This package is available for Sunday through Thursday night stays, starting at $319 per night for two adults. It includes a two-night stay with deluxe or cottage room accommodations, two full-day whitewater rafting trips with all necessary equipment, cold beverages and a full deli-style lunch. To make reservations and view a full trip itinerary, visit or call 888-514-2167. Use promo code WHITEWATER.


Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Rail Road

by Ted on April 2, 2011

The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Rail Road is planning for an April 8 opening, delayed a few weeks from their original plan due to heavy snow.

Max Stauffer, owner of the popular historic railroad just south of the Highway 41 entrance to Yosemite National Park had planned on opening March 19. The next day, however, a series of storms dropped anywhere from five to nine feet of snow along the four-mile route the train runs through the Sierra National Forest.

"We’ve been doing a lot of clean up after these storms," said Stauffer. "In addition to the snow there were a lot of trees down so we’ve been clearing those as well as plowing the lines," he said.

"Weather permitting, we’ll open up on April 8. We’re not expecting any more heavy storms, so we’re holding pretty firm to that date."

The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Rail Road runs two authentic, narrow-gauge Shay locomotives through the Sierra National Forest. Engine 10 was built in 1928 and Engine 15 in 1913. The regular tours highlight the scenic beauty of the area while describing the unique history of the region, all while recreating an authentic logger train experience.

Starting in May, the rail road also offers the Moonlight Special, which includes a BBQ dinner, live entertainment during dinner and at stop at the picnic area where everyone gathers around a large campfire with more entertainment on Wednesday and Saturday evenings.

In addition to the train, there is also a historic museum that showcases how life was in the region at the turn of the century. "In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, loggers worked the mountains providing wood for the Industrial Revolution. Their tools and way of life is shown at the museum" said Stauffer.

The region’s history in the gold rush is also recreated at a gold panning sluice box where kids are taught how to find gold. "They really love getting their hands in there and actually finding gold. It always gets a big smile for them," said Stauffer.

To see a full schedule and learn more, visit the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Rail Road website at