Things to Do in Yosemite, Earth Day Edition

Yosemite Falls reflected in the Merced River in Yosemite Valley. Photo: Erik Weiss Photography

 

We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.

[Wendell Berry]

 

Ahh, April. This month is extra-special for Yosemite — it's a prime time for waterfalls (especially after this year's wet winter), and the calendar is bursting with opportunities to celebrate the natural world, from National Walking Day (April 5) and Bat Appreciation Day (April 17),  to the birthdays of naturalists John Muir (April 21) and John J. Audubon (April 26). And did we mention National Park Week (April 15-23), which starts and ends with fee-free weekends?

National Park Week also encompasses one of our favorite holidays: Earth Day! As we gear up for that special Saturday, here are a few ways to honor the park — and the planet — on April 22.

 

1. Discover (and dine) with us. As Baba Dioum famously said, "we conserve only what we love" and "we love only what we understand." Expand your understanding of Yosemite's forest landscape in our first "Dine and Discover" program of the season: Sierra Tree Mortality — Death of the Ponderosa Pine. The experience starts with a presentation and buffet meal on Friday night, and then continues with a day hike on Saturday.

Celebrate Earth Day by creating your own take-home watercolor. Photo: Jim Kingwell.

 

2. Art-iculate your love for the natural world (April is National Humor Month, so we're not even trying to resist #ParkPuns). Drop by the Yosemite Art Center for an Open Studio session, create an Earth Day craft at our booth by the Valley Visitor Center, or capture spring beauty in watercolor during an outdoor painting class with Jim Kingwell (sign up online).

 

3. See a show. Embrace your literary side at a special outdoor performance in the afternoon, as actors (including Lee Stetson and ranger Shelton Johnson) vivify the words of Shakespeare and John Muir in an hour-long show. End your day at the Yosemite Theater, where legendary rock-climber Ron Kauk will introduce you to the vertical wild and inspire you to live in balance with the natural world, through a film and follow-up conversation.

No-trace tip: Use bear-proof food lockers to store your snacks and scented items. Photo: Keith Walklet.

 

4. Be a Zero Hero. You don't need a cape to exercise a planetary superpower in Yosemite: Minimize your environmental impact by practicing "Leave No Trace" tactics, such as staying on trails and storing food in bear-proof lockers or canisters, and helping the park achieve its "zero landfill" goal (bring reusable eating and cooking supplies, leave excess packaging at home, and properly dispose of items you're not going to pack out). 

To secure your superhero status, extend your commitment to limiting waste well beyond Earth Day and Yosemite — apply zero-waste, no-trace principles whenver you're exploring the natural world, whether in a national forest or in your local park.

 

 

A great addition to any Earth Day outfit: the Yosemite Junior Ranger badge! Photo: NPS.

5. Take the Junior Ranger pledge. Ready to "Explore, Learn, and Protect" (and earn a sustainable wooden badge)? Stop by the Valley Visitor Center on Earth Day for a Junior Ranger walk (scheduled for 10 am and 1 pm).

Bring the whole family — and remember, there's no age limit on exploring, learning about and protecting your park through Yosemite's donor-supported Junior Ranger programs!

 

6. Get involved. Take a minute out of your Saturday to make a donation in honor of Earth Day. This year, your gifts will help the park restore trails, preserve habitat, protect wildlife, inspire a new generation of environmental stewards, and much more. 

Yosemite Insider