Yosemite time lapse

By Phil Plait | May 4, 2012 1:23 pm

One of my biggest regrets about living in California for six years is that I never drove to Yosemite National Park, which was a mere 4.5 hours away. What was I thinking?

And time lapse videos like this don’t make me feel any better.

It’s a small comfort knowing I’ll be spending a week in the magnificent Colorado Rockies in September, but still. I’ll have to carve some time out of my life and visit Yosemite. And Yellowstone. And Antarctica, and Denali, and and and.

So much planet, so little time.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: time lapse, Yosemite

Comments (22)

  1. Steve

    Beautiful. I spend a weekend in Oakhurst by Yosemite last summer and I loved it. I need to get back there sometime soon.

  2. SidBB

    Always been a lurker here, but I have to comment on this one to strongly recommend Ken Burns’ series “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea”. Not only is it visually beautiful, but it presents a fascinating history of the parks and the people who advocated for their formation and administration. I watched it recently and it made me immediately start planning a trip to California and Arizona.

  3. Thomas Siefert

    Copy-and-paste comment:

    Homer Simpson: You’re right, Marge. Just like the time I could have met Mr. T at the mall. The entire day, I kept saying, “I’ll go a little later, I’ll go a little later…” And when I got there, they told me he just left. And when I asked the mall guy if he’ll ever come back again, he said he didn’t know. Well, I’m never going to let something like that happen again!

  4. Randy A.

    The video included more than just Yosemite. One scene showed Joshua Trees in the Mojave.

    That’s not a complaint, by the way! I enjoyed it, and I’m glad I live in the golden state!

  5. Chris A.

    Yeah, Phil, seriously: Yosemite should be high on your bucket list. One of my greatest regrets, when that day comes that I shuffle off this mortal coil, will surely be that I didn’t go there enough, regardless of how many more times I go between now and then. Sorry–not trying to rub it in, but to encourage you to make it happen, whatever it takes.

  6. kat wagner

    Every spring break and in summer, we packed our two kids off to national parks – Yellowstone, Redwoods, Canyonlands and Arches, Mesa Verde,Crater Lake, Zion, Bryce. They’re both students at Boise State and always say what a great time they had, camping and hiking their way through life. And they love all the slides and black & white photos I took.

    We haven’t made it to Yosemite yet.

  7. Chelsea

    Go. GO dammit, do NOT miss out on seeing Yosemite. Take the wife and kids. Stand under the tall pines near the foot of El Capitan at sunset, have your breath taken away by the sheer size of the rock formations. Feel like an insignificat ant. Compare in your mind the distances of the universe. See and experience the beauty of what is right here on our planet. And for pete’s sake don’t forget the camera with extra batteries and memory cards! I got out there once, and if I ever get the chance I’ll be making a beeline right back there. *sigh* where’s that rich husband or winning lottery ticket when I need one???

  8. tm

    My wife and I took our kids out to Yosemite a few years ago. They were not quite old enough then to appreciate it beyond having a lot of sticks and rocks to play with. But, they did get to see a deer and her fawn lying in a meadow near a trail in the valley.
    Entering the park from the south, shooting through the steep tunnel out into Yosemite Valley is breathtaking. I’m glad this time lapse showed other parts of Yosemite (and places beyond, even). Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne Meadows are also very beautiful locations within the park, and are a lot less crowded than Yosemite Valley can be. And by “less crowded”, I mean nearly empty.
    One of the sadder things I saw there was when we were waiting for morning to break over Yosemite Valley. As we waited and watched at Tunnel View, a tour bus roared up. Out poured a bunch of tourists, cameras in hand, and not even two minutes passed before they were herded right back on board. I doubt anyone reading this needs to hear it, but don’t let anyone ration your time at Yosemite like that once you’re there. The daybreak over Yosemite Valley is as beautiful as this time lapse promises and well worth the time spent watching.

  9. John Paradox


    Going off-topic, I was just over on YouTube, at The Young Turks channel……..


  10. Diederick

    I was in Yosemite last summer and found it one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.

  11. Peter Croft

    Crumbs, Phil, even I, in the far, far antipodes, (Perth, Western Australia), have been to Yosemite. I was there in 1988 as part of a drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon, then back through Death Valley to Yosemite and on to San Francisco. I sent myself a postcard from the Ansel Adams museum saying, “I’m here!” As a dedicated amateur photographer, I have some great shots of my own to remember it by. (Only Kodachrome in those days.)

    I’m a little upset, though, by the maker’s choice for the title of this timelapse. I’ve long known that Ansel Adams published a book called Yosemite and the Range of Light. To use this name, only slightly altered, seems to me a little wrong. Let me just say, I wouldn’t have done that.

  12. Messier Tidy Upper

    Beautiful, superb, thanks. :-)

    What do you call a rainbow that’s made by a waterfall without any rain?

    (2 minutes 17-25 secs mark.)

  13. Mark

    The author is not alone. Most of my childhood friends from the Los Angeles area also have never been to Yosemite. My advice to any newcomers is that there is much more than just the Valley to visit. And for pet owners you can camp just outside the park on the eastern entrance where dogs are allowed.There are also trails just outside the park that allow dogs on the trail(this is prohibited in the park). Walking vacations are just now becoming popular. You can stay at Tuolumne Meadows Campground and take the shuttle to various trailheads for free. It’s just totally awesome. If you are really adventourous google the search term “yosemite high sierra camps”.

  14. Laurie

    Thank you Phil. This video reminds me how lucky I am that my Mom (california native) wouldn’t leave her family so my Dad (new jersey boy) had to relocate here. They visited Yosemite for their 58th anniversary this year.

    If you can’t get there right away, check out “Brandon’s Trail”. It’s a novel my dad wrote about a family hiking the entire John Muir Trail in one summer.

  15. GS

    Remember if you do go to Yosemite there is more than just Yosemite Valley just like Mark said! Try to plan to visit other stuff like Tuolumne Meadows, Mariposa Grove, etc.

  16. LoriBW

    What are the lights on what appears to be a shear cliff face at about the 2:00 mark?

  17. Steve

    I love the video! Was surprised to see the helmet lights of the night climbers going up the face of the cliff, with a few stationary lights of campers, around the two minute mark. I am truly appreciative of the folks who go to the troubles to make such wonderful vids.

  18. If you have the time, I *strongly* recommend coming into Yosemite from the “Back Way” via the 395 and up the 120 at Lee Vining (after spending some time checking out Mono Lake…of course!).

    A high climb up through the Sierras, below remnant glaciers from the Little Ice Age (at least this week – who knows about the next?), past mountain lakes (Tenaya at dawn with the fog rising off it is cool), big fields of glacially polished rock, before finally dropping down into the valley itself.

    Way cool.

  19. WJM

    and the Torngat Mountains and the north shore of Lake Superior and the Magdalene Islands and the Dempster Highway and the Alberta Badlands and Nahanni and Pangnirtung Pass and and and, come to the Canada!

  20. bouch

    @LoriBW – probably climbers spending a night on the face before they continue their climb.

    For example, look at the pic here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/10/sports/as-climbers-go-text-it-on-the-mountain-reaction-is-divided.html?_r=1

  21. LoriBW

    @bouch – OMG that looks insane!!

  22. Jamie Tuitele-Lewis

    If you do go to Yosemite, go in the fall or winter. The crowds drop off dramatically and winter can be the most stunning season in the Valley.


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