Mariposa Grove and More!
As I got my first look at the improvements in Mariposa Grove, I couldn't help but wonder what my friend John Pratt would think of the access. John drove a tram tour through the grove for many years, and I always enjoyed hearing his visitor stories. Some were funny - like the lady who asked why they planted the grove so far from the parking lot - but many of them were actually access-related.
John loved helping people see the grove, and he often said that if it wasn't for the tram tours, some folks - especially those with mobility issues - wouldn't be able to get an up-close-and-personal look at these giant sequoias. His biggest fear was that the improvements in the grove would not take disabled visitors into account.
Sadly John left us before the Mariposa Grove project was completed, but after seeing the results of this three-year effort, I'd like to think he'd give it a big thumbs-up.
Not only did the project restore the ecology of the grove, but it heightened the visitor experience. There are absolutely no commercial facilities in the grove, so you can just sit back and take in Mother Nature. And access wasn't overlooked either; in fact it was factored into the plans from the beginning.
As a result, there's nearly a mile of accessible trails and boardwalks in the grove, so everyone can get a close look at these giant trees. And although there's accessible shuttle bus transportation to the grove, visitors that have a placard can also drive there. So yes, the new incarnation is extremely accessible.
I have to admit that I was frustrated with the amount of time this project took, but I'm totally wowed by the results. And the new and improved Mariposa Grove is the main reason for the second edition of this book.
Of course that's not the only Yosemite access improvement since the first edition of this book was released. One of the specialty cabins at Half Dome Village was renovated in 2018, and the upgrades included the addition of access features. So that's one more accessible lodging option to add to the Yosemite list.
They've been busy down in Kings Canyon National Park too, with the addition of the new Grant Grove Restaurant, which features excellent access and a great view of Bradley Meadow.
More good reasons for a second edition.
I was also able to include a few more properties in the gateway cities of Mariposa, Mammoth Lakes and Visalia in this edition.
Of course, access is continually improving in all of the parks, and I do plan to post future changes at www.barrierfreeyosemite.com. So let me know if you come across any upgrades, changes or improvements, so I can share them with my readers.
And let me know how you enjoy these three Central California National Parks.