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Early Leaf Peeping In Yosemite With Mom

Leaf Peeping season has officially begun. . . . so Mom and I decided to take a day road trip through Yosemite Valley to see how those fall colors were shaping up.

Where: Yosemite National Park
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Range: 3,996′ – 4,184′
Date: October 7, 2018
Dog Hike? Maybe

It was a bit early for prime leaf colors in Yosemite but Mom and I were very curious to take a look. We made a big loop, heading up Hwy 140 through Mariposa into Yosemite Valley, circling the valley counter clockwise, then heading back via Hwy 41 via Oakhurst. We did spot early color, with big leaf maples starting to turn yellow and the dogwoods along Hwy 41 had some nice color showing.

Our first stop was at Fern Spring, which some call Yosemite’s smallest waterfall.

Fern Springs (Photo by Rosemary Gregory)

Then a stop at the Swinging Bridge to check out the color (and use the restrooms).

And we took some pictures of those beautiful reflections in the Merced River.

I was wondering if the oaks behind Yosemite Chapel had started to turn and they hadn’t.

But that non-native sugar maple catty corner from the chapel was really in it’s prime.

Photo by Rosemary Gregory

We cruised through Curry Village but it was too early for those dogwoods. A stop at the Gates of the Valley always has a wonderful photo opportunity and the dogwoods across the street were just starting to turn color.

We headed out Hwy 41, making a stop at Tunnel View.

And some nice people took a picture of Mom and I.

It was getting close to lunchtime so we stopped in front of the Wawona Hotel to eat our picnic lunch that we brought along.

Photo by Rosemary Gregory

Mom had never been to the Pioneer Yosemite History Center and since we were right next door, we checked it out.



Mom spent some time in the pokey.

As we drove back down Hwy 41 below Fish Camp, the dogwoods were really showing some nice fall color. I made a note to myself to check out more dogwoods at this elevation such as up Sky Ranch Road. The crowd factor in Yosemite was not too bad on this weekday. At times, larger groups would congregate but didn’t stay long and we ended up having some spots to ourselves for periods of time. The fall color show is just starting and I look forward to leaf peeping some more.


Official Map For Yosemite Valley (Courtesy Yosemite National Park)

Dog Hike?

There are some areas along this leaf peeping route where dogs are allowed:

  • In developed areas
  • On fully paved roads, sidewalks, and bicycle paths (except when signed as not allowing pets)
  • In all campgrounds except walk-in campgrounds (e.g., Camp 4) and in group campsites


  • pets must be restrained on a leash not more than six feet long or otherwise physically restrained
  • leashed pets may not be left unattended
  • for the courtesy of other visitors, human companions are responsible for cleaning up and depositing pet feces in trash receptacles
  • remember that pet food is also bear food: store pet food as if it were human food.

Where Pets Are Not Allowed

  • On trails, including the trail to Vernal Fall (however, pets are allowed on the Wawona Meadow Loop)
  • On unplowed roads covered in snow
  • In undeveloped and wilderness areas
  • In public buildings
  • On shuttle buses
  • In lodging areas
  • In all walk-in and group campgrounds/campsites, including Camp 4
  • In any other areas, as signed

These regulations protect both pets and wildlife from disease and each other. The National Park Service has prohibited pets on trails for many years. In particular, some pets chase wildlife, pollute water sources, and can become defensive and dangerous in unfamiliar surroundings. Pet owners have the burden to assure their pet does not damage the park values for others in those areas where pets are allowed.

Prior Blogs in this Area:

Leaf Peeping In Yosemite Valley October 30, 2018

Leaf Peeping in Yosemite Valley and Hiking Mirror Lake Loop October 19, 2017

Mirror Lake Loop Hike April 26, 2016

Leaf Peeping in Yosemite Valley October 23, 2014

Mirror Lake Loop Hike November 7, 2012


Foster Curry Cabin

Yosemite National Park Pet Regulations

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