National

Well loved - Yosemite tops 4 million visitors

Hikers slop around on the wet rocks on the Mist Trail, which leads to Vernal Fall at Yosemite National Park in California. (Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Hikers slop around on the wet rocks on the Mist Trail, which leads to Vernal Fall at Yosemite National Park in California. (Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times/MCT) Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times/MCT

Over the last two years, the number of people using the park broke 4 million, something that hasn't happened since the mid-'90s.

It's not clear why, but there are a few theories, said Kari Cobb, spokeswoman for Yosemite National Park.

"We had amazing waterfalls last year," she said. "The waterfalls were booming in July and August. Typically, our biggest waterfalls dry up in December. But they never dried up last year."

Cobb said moderate winter temperatures and an increasing awareness of the "free days" available at all federal parks may have played a role.

"There was no question if they were going to exceed 4 million again," said Dick Whittington, executive director of Yosemite Regional Transportation System. "The question was by how much."

Last year, park officials recorded 4,098,648 visitors, slightly topping the number from 2010. And visitor totals in July and August exceeded 720,000 people, the highest monthly totals on record.

Whittington, whose bus system takes people between Merced and the park, said last year many people were up in the Tioga Pass area enjoying the sights before restaurants, bathrooms and other services opened for the season.

"The water last year was special," he said.

Read the complete story at mercedsunstar.com

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