Last Month in Yosemite: January 2018

Last Month in Yosemite: January 2018

A full moon rises over Half Dome the night before a lunar eclipse at the end of January 2018. Image captured by Yosemite Conservancy's High Sierra webcam (

A monthly recap of what we saw, heard and did in the park. Here's what happened in January...


Yosemite Conservancy's 2018 grants, announced in January, include funding for research on the park's butterfly populations. Photo: Courtesy of NPSGrants, grants, grants!

As always, we started the first month of the year by introducing our annual suite of grants to Yosemite National Park. This year, our donors will be funding 36 new grants, providing much-needed support for trail and habitat restoration, scientific research, educational programs, and more.

Curious about current projects? Dive into detailed digital descriptions of each grant , or read the cheat sheet (our 2018 preview post). While you're on our blog, peruse our look back at past projects that get at the heart of what makes Yosemite so special.  And when you're done reading, we hope you'll be inspired to join our community of park supporters — these grants are only possible because of generous gifts from people who care about Yosemite!



Valiant volunteers

Every spring and summer, our hundreds of volunteers donate their time to support restoration projects and visitor services in Yosemite. We opened applications for our 2018 volunteer programs in January, and were blown away by the enthusiastic response! Thank you to everyone who has already offered to donate time and talents.

Help people experience Mariposa Grove this year as a visitor information assistant volunteer based in Wawona. Photo: Yosemite Conservancy/Keith WalkletIf you're looking for a fun way to make a meaningful difference in the park this year, we still need volunteer visitor information assistants in Wawona. You'll get to spend a month in the beautiful southwestern corner of the park, helping visitors from all over the world experience the newly restored Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. If camping along the South Fork Merced River and walking among some of the world's most massive trees sounds like your happy place, click here to check out the volunteer application!  

For the artistically inclined, we have current openings for volunteer art instructors. Donate your time to lead our children's program at Happy Isles in August 2018, and/or to teach classes for 1-2 weeks during our 2019 season. To learn more and apply, click here



Where's Rodney? In Marin!

A stop on the "Where's Rodney?" StoryWalk in the Marin Headlands. Photo: Courtesy of Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.If you find yourself in the Bay Area this season, take a trip to the Marin Headlands to check out the temporary StoryWalk starring Where's Rodney?, an award-winning children's book by Carmen Bogan and Floyd Cooper (and published by our team). As you hike the short trail (~ 1/3 mile) in Gerbode Valley, you'll follow Rodney from his classroom to a big park, where he gets to be "more outside" than he's ever been. The StoryWalk will be up through the end of February 2018. Find details on the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy site.



A new bike-share pilot program aims to encourage campers to avoid turning on their cars for quick trips to Yosemite Village. Photo: Yosemite Conservancy/Keith WalkletProject prep

The busy season for much of this year's grant-supported work in Yosemite is still a few months away, but some projects are already getting underway. In January, the park's equine experts headed to the Central Valley to meet wild mustangs that will join Yosemite's horse team later this spring. The mustangs are being trained by inmates at a local correctional center, through a partnership with the Bureau of Land Management and the Sacramento Sherrif's Department.

Meanwhile, project managers have been spinning away on preparations for another riding-related effort: a pilot bike-share program to help reduce vehicle traffic, especially around Yosemite Village. 



Light shows (and logisitics)

A full "supermoon"  rises over Clouds Rest in Yosemite at the end of January. Photo: Courtesy of NPSThe last day of the month brought a "super blue blood moon" - "super" because the moon was close to Earth, and therefore looked extra large; "blue" not due to its color, but because it was the second full moon of the month; and temporarily "blood" hued because of the red tint as the orb passed through our planet's shadow, creating a lunar eclipse. If you missed this most recent celestial show in Yosemite, don't fret: The park's dark nights make for stunning stargazing and moon-watching all year. (On that note, don't miss our tips for experiencing the park after dark.)

Back on Earth, the park announced a pilot program to help manage traffic and visitor safety in the coming weeks, as people head to Yosemite Valley to see if water will fill Horsetail Fall, a seasonal waterfall on the east side of El Capitan that transforms into a fiery flow at sunset on certain February evenings. Planning to watch in person? Be sure to check the Yosemite National Park website ( for updates on current park regulations and designated viewing areas.  

Finally, Yosemite's winter rangers captured some jaw-dropping sunset scenes as they skied the high country in January. Check out their blog for the latest updates about conditions and wildlife activity above 8,000 feet (or so), and keep an eye on our webcams to watch the sun rise and set in the Sierra from wherever you are.

Coming up on our calendars: Early spring day hikes in Yosemite Valley; prepping our art program's new Happy Isles home for a fresh season of classes and crafts; and our annual Spring Gathering (open to donors of $25 or more — make your gift and join us for a fun weekend in Yosemite).

See you in the park, and thanks for reading!


Main image: The moon glimmered in the sky above Half Dome on the evening of January 30; early the next morning, the orb passed through Earth's shadow, putting on a stunning show for pre-dawn skygazers. Photo from our High Sierra webcam.

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