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Yosemite National Park Protect Yosemite

Special Protection for Special Places

Visitors to Yosemite National Park are the park's most important guardians. With Yosemite's nearly 4 million people watching over its special plants, animals, historic, and archeological sites, imagine how well-protected these park resources could be!

During your visit to Yosemite, be aware that there are people who either intentionally or unknowingly harm park resources. Please contact a park official if you see any of the following illegal acts:

feeding or approaching wildlife hunting animals collecting reptiles and butterflies collecting plants (including pine cones) picking up archeological items such as arrowheads using metal detectors to locate and collect historic objects driving vehicles into sensitive meadows camping outside of designated campgrounds possession of weapons.

If you see activities that could harm people or park resources, jot down any descriptions or a vehicle license plate number and contact the park dispatch office at 209/379-1992; if someone's life is in danger, call 911.

Keep Wildlife Wild

Respect animals at a distance: never feed or approach them. Keep your distance from animals, even if they approach you Dispose of trash in animal-proof trash cans or dumpsters Keep your food and trash from wildlife by storing it properly, day and night. More information about proper food storage is available. Failure to obey regulations may result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or impoundment of your property.


Some visitors choose to bring pets along on their vacations. In Yosemite, pets have a few rules to follow .


Each season, plants are crushed from bicycle travel in meadows, campgrounds, and picnic areas. Please respect park resources and keep bicycles on paved roads and paved trails .They are not allowed to travel off-trail, on unpaved trails, or in wilderness areas. Mountain biking opportunities are available in designated areas outside of Yosemite. Bicyclists under 18 years of age must wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet.

Hiking and climbing safety

Visit the Search and Rescue office's web site for tips on hiking and climbing safety.

Traffic safety

Traveling through Yosemite by car, bus, or bicycle provides a wonderful opportunity to slow down and enjoy the park 's incredible scenery. When traveling on park roads you can protect yourself, other visitors, and park wildlife by observing the following simple rules: Yosemite's roads are used by both visitors and park wildlife. Please obey posted speed limits. Speeding kills bears other wildlife! Use turnouts to pull completely out of the road to take photos, consult the park map, or simply enjoy the park's scenery and wildlife. Wear seatbelts and use child safety seats required for children under six years of age or under 60 pounds in weight. All motorcyclists must wear helmets. Stay alive, don't drink and drive. For your safety, park rangers enforce laws against alcohol and drug relateddriving offenses.

Water ways

Success! Five years ago, many areas along the Merced River showed signs of human trampling.The soil was bare and heavily eroded. Now, because of the careful actions of visitors and park staff, many of these areas have been restored to more natural conditions.The plants, birds, insects, and animals that depend on living in or near the water have been able to return to these once barren areas.

You can help continue this progress by entering and exiting the river at designated launch and removal points, and by taking breaks on rocky, sandy beaches or point bars. Packing out what you pack in will also help keep the river free from trash and prevent animals from swallowing harmful plastic or aluminum. Please observe the following safety tips to protect Yosemite's river and lakeshore habitats and to safely enjoy water activities throughout the park.


Always supervise children closely. Choose swimming areas carefully and swim only during low water conditions. Avoid areas of and#147;whitewaterand#148; where streams flow over rocky obstructions. Never swim or wade upstream from the brink of a waterfall, even if the water appears shallow and calm. Each year unsuspecting visitors are swept over waterfalls to their deaths when swimming in these areas.

River crossings

In summer, rivers and creeks swollen by runoff from snowmelt are dangerous. Powerful current, icy water, and river obstructions can trap or kill the unwary. Stay away from river and creek banks during high water conditions and avoid rock hopping. Stream polished rocks along the water's edge may be slippery when wet or dry. If you choose to cross a stream without a bridge, avoid deep and/or swift water. If crossing on a natural bridge of rocks or logs, consider where you will land if you fall. Never cross above rapids or falls. To prevent being pulled under by its weight, unbuckle your pack's waist strap so you can shed it if you fall in. Do not tie yourself into safety ropes--they can drown you. Rafting

Rafting on the Merced River in Yosemite Valley (Stoneman Bridge to Sentinel Beach), and the South Fork of the Merced River in Wawona is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily to any type of non-motorized vessel or other flotation device. You must wear or have a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device immediately available. Fallen trees and other natural debris in the river create important habitat for fish and other wildlife.Be alert--they can also create hazards for rafters. The entire length of the Merced River in Yosemite Valley is closed to all floatation devices whenever the river gauge at Sentinel Bridge reads 6.5 feet or higher.


Fishing in Yosemite is regulated under State law. A valid California sport fishing license is required for those persons age 16 years and older. When fishing the license must be plainly visible by attaching to an outer layer of clothing above the waistline. Trout season opens on the last Saturday in April and continues through November 15 (except that Frog Creek near Lake Eleanor opens June 15). All lakes and reservoirs are open year-round. Special fishing regulations apply on the Merced River in Yosemite Valley and El Portal from Happy Isles downstream to the Foresta Bridge, where it is catch-and-release only for rainbow trout. Brown trout limits are 5 fish per day. Only artificial lures or flies with barbless hooks may be used. The use of live or dead minnows, bait fish or amphibians, non-preserved fish eggs or roe is prohibited.

Water Quality

To protect yourself from disease, treat any surface water before drinking. Treatment methods include boiling for 5 minutes, use of a Giardia rated water filter, or iodine based purifier. To prevent the spread of Giardia and other water-borne disease organisms, use restroom facilities where available. In natural areas where facilities are not available, bury human waste 6 inches deep, and do your washing and camping at least 100 feet away from any water source or trail.

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