This splendid bird is occasionally spotted perched on a fence post or young tree in our meadow here at Sunset Inn.
The Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) is North America's largest owl in terms of body length, and surely one of its most magnificent birds. In California, the species is primarily restricted to the Yosemite area, where it nests in late-seral forests adjacent to montane meadows or other forest openings. Adapted from ‘The Institute for Bird Populations’ Great Gray Owl survey.
YOSEMITE IS VAST!
Here are some specific suggestions to see and do:
1. Yosemite Valley, the center of the Park is where you will find many of the water falls as well as the dramatic granite cliffs, including Half Dome and El Capitan.
2. Glacier Point has a dramatic view overlooking Yosemite Valley. The Glacier Point road is generally open May through October. If so, this is an amazing view point overlooking Yosemite Valley. If it's not open, or if you are inclined for some strenuous exercise, you can do it on foot. It's a great hike about 9 miles round trip.
3. Giant Sequoia Groves. Of the three groves, the main one, Mariposa Grove is located at the south entrance to the park, about an hour and a half drive from us, has hundreds of trees, and because you can drive right to the grove there are usually hundreds of people. However there are two other lovely groves within 15 miles of us, with the same amazing giant Sequoias, but only a handful of them. You have to hike 2 or 3 miles round trip to get to these groves and consequently there are far fewer visitors. The short hike to either of these groves, the Tuolumne, or the Merced Grove, is highly recommended.
4. The high country, Highway 120 east- Tioga Pass Road (generally open Memorial Day, ‘till the snow flies’ in October/November): White Wolf, TenayaLake, Tuolumne Meadows, & TiogaPass. This drive takes you up through and above tree line where the vast expanse of the Sierra really opens up. The views are spectacular! Summer hiking in this region is outstanding!
5. HIKING: There are many great hikes inside the Park, and a few in our surrounding area.
Some of the short hikes in Yosemite Valley, including VernalFalls and MirrorLake are great, and extremely popular! A short walk, well worth the 10 minutes, is to the base of YosemiteFalls. To avoid the crowds in Yosemite Valley, avoid the Village areas at the east end of the Valley and instead park in a pull out along the side of the road and walk out into a meadow or down to the river. You will leave the majority of tourists behind.
In the summer time, the high country, specifically Tuolumne Meadows and the TiogaPassregion are ideal for hiking as it is always a little cooler at the higher elevations, and the majority of the crowds are far behind in Yosemite Valley. Just to name a few; CathedralLakes, GaylorLakes, LyellCanyon, and DogLake are all terrific hikes, with minimal crowds. A few hikes on the way up to the Tuolumne region include HardinLake and May Lake/Mount Hoffman. There are also some great, short hikes along the Glacier Point Road including Taft Point, & Sentinel Dome. A little longer, lovely hike is to Dewy Point.
6. Winter, early spring, and the fall are great times to visit the Hetch Hetchy area of Yosemite, and it is just 20 miles from us. It is a valley like Yosemite Valley, with the granite cliffs and waterfalls, but was dammed at the turn of the last century. It is a beautiful area, particularly appealing in the spring with the waterfalls and wildflowers, as well as the fall with beautiful autumn colors. And since it is a little out of the way, it is not nearly as 'touristy' as Yosemite Valley.
7. Even closer to Sunset Inn, drive about 2 miles to the South Fork of the Tuolumne River on Evergreen Road and you can either walk about ¼ mile downstream for a lovely swimming hole, or go upstream to Carlon Falls, a great hike about 2 or 3 miles round trip!
8. For further advance planning, you might check out the book: 'Moon Handbook- Yosemite', by Ann Marie Brown. You may be able to get this at your local library. It is such a comprehensive guide to the Park that we keep a copy in each of our cabins for your use.
LOCAL ACTIVITIES Enjoy many Yosemite area activities on your own, or with a guide. We are happy to assist you in booking guided trips!
BICYCLING- Numerous mountain and paved cycle routes available to enjoy throughout the area. Bicycle rentals are available seasonally in Yosemite Valley.
BIRDING- Our meadow is a terrific spot to behold the sights and sounds of the plentiful feathered species, including song birds, owls, ravens and water fowl. The magnificent Great Grey Owl is an occasional visitor to Sunset Inn. BUS TOURS- Guided tours of several key areas of Yosemite are available on a daily basis with 2 hour, 4 hour, and all day tours available.
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING- You can ski right out the door of your cabin (snowfall permitting), with numerous trails throughout the forest. Also, Crane Flat, 10 miles up the road, inside Yosemite usually has consistent snow throughout the winter, with many great trails. DOWNHILL SKIING/SNOWBOARDING- BadgerPass, also inside Yosemite, is a great family ski area. Dodge Ridge on Highway 108, and BearValley on Highway 4, provide a tremendous variety of exciting and more advanced skiing options. FISHING & SWIMMING- Rivers, streams & lakes abound with trout, bass and more. The South Fork of the TuolumneRiver with great fishing and swimming holes, is just 2 miles from your cabin. FREE BUS TOURS-쑄Δ> The shuttle bus in Yosemite Valley travels between the Visitors Center and the four main activity centers of the Valley, just a couple of miles, is free transportation, and has a knowledgeable guide/driver. HIKING- Blaze your own trail, starting from your cabin door. Or, enjoy any of the vast trails, as well as the lesser traveled paths within Yosemite and the surrounding exquisite forest. The scenery; granite cliffs and domes, rivers and waterfalls, fabulous vegetation, and wildlife are spectacular!
HORSEBACK RIDING- Several stables in the area offer from 1 hour to 4 hour rides.
RANGER NATURALIST PROGRAMS- The National Park Service offers wonderful free guided ranger programs for all ages, daily, year-round.
ROCK CLIMBING- Yosemite is a rock climbers dream, with unlimited routes on some of the finest granite in the world. Classic rock climbing information is available from your innkeepers. Professional guide services are recommended for beginners.
SNOWSHOEING- Sunset Inn is often a great place for snowshoeing right out the door of your cabin (snowfall permitting). Also, Crane Flat, 10 miles up the road, inside Yosemite usually has consistent snow throughout the winter and offers many great snowshoeing trails as well as lovely meadow areas. Bring your own snowshoes, or borrow a pair from us.
WHITEWATER RAFTING- Wild and Scenic Tuolumne River rafting trips depart just 15 miles down the highway.
DOING ABSOULTELY NOTHING- Come up for air, stars, mountains, trees, and divine seclusion. Do nothing, relax and enjoy. We won't tell...