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Natural Resource Swimming in Yosemite

West Palm Beach...
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Natural Resource Swimming in Yosemite

planning on a family trip next yr with the kids to yosemite. We are looking for light day hikes for kids 4 and 8 who love to swim in lakes and rivers.

Please send us your recommendations/experiences. We all have wetsuits for the cold.

Also looking for less crowded serenity.

Menlo Park...
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1. Re: Natural Resource Swimming in Yosemite

no place in the Valley to get in the water except the summer pool at the lodge. The river is too swift to permit swimming. People occasionally swim above the Nevada falls, with fatal consequences. There are lakes in the high country where you could swim, but you'll need those wet suits. Tenaya Lake is along 120 and May Lake is a short hike off the road. Saddlebag Lake is above Tioga Pass above 10,000 feet. May Lake and Saddlebag Lake are less busy. tenaya is by far the most scenic. I'm guessing that swimming is permitted, though I have no clue.

Washington State
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2. Re: Natural Resource Swimming in Yosemite

In general, the river water is too cold for casual swimming until mid-July. But that is just a generalization. With wetsuits, you could get in earlier.

And in general, many rivers & streams are too fast for swimming until July or August, or they are never really safe. If you're experienced river swimmers and have taken safety courses, then you can judge where it's safe and where it's unsafe to swim. I'm concerned about kids from Florida and their ability to 'read a river' or their experience with swift mountain streams.

Rule of thumb ... if the water is flowing faster than you can walk, it's too fast for swimming. Never swim above waterfalls or near 'strainers' / fallen trees in the river. And some places have very slippery rocks.

Folks definitely swim in Tenaya Lake but it's not allowed in May Lake. I tend to avoid crowded places, so I don't swim in Tenaya Lake. Others have said that it's cold.

In Tuolumne Meadows, folks make the short hike to Twin Bridges to swim in the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. Continue up the Lyell Fork (fairly flat) to any other spot that appeals to you for swimming.

Folks do swim in the Merced River in the Valley, but again, only when it's safe to do so. Most 4 year olds don't have enough skills, but I'm sure you know your own child. In many places the road follows the river, so you can see where it's safe to swim. But I wouldn't attempt this before July, unless this coming winter is even worse than last winter. And 2011 had such a huge snowpack that rivers were still high, snow was still on the ground, and water was cold all through August. I swam some last August in the high country, but it was darn chilly. Usually we loll about in those lakes ... lovely!

In Wawona, you can swim just upstream from the group campsite at the Wawona Campground, at a community favorite spot across the road from the Community Center on Chilnualna Road, or at Swinging Bridge about 1/4 mile past the end of Forest Drive.

I have never seen anyone swimming in a wetsuit in Yosemite, tho' I guess it has been done. It seems that if the water is cold, it's still too high & fast for swimming.

When are you visiting?

West Palm Beach...
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3. Re: Natural Resource Swimming in Yosemite

how easily is it to get to these with little kids? what kind of hike distnace and type is it?

Washington State
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4. Re: Natural Resource Swimming in Yosemite

Which ones do you want to know more about? Do you have someone younger than 4 in your group?

San Diego...
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5. Re: Natural Resource Swimming in Yosemite

In addition to the excellent advice above, take a look at this page: http://tinyurl.com/cd9blq5

Tenaya Lake is easy to get to as it is literally right next to Tioga Road. Both of those photos are at Tenaya Lake: …nevada.edu/potts/…yosemite19.jpg and …staticflickr.com/3016/2704796033_8d936a95b1…

Within Yosemite Valley, kids like splashing in the shallow end of Mirror Lake which is right below Half Dome. There are 3 swimming pools in Yosemite Valley, one at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, one at Curry Village and one at the Ahwahnee hotel. The one at the Ahwahnee is for guests staying at the Ahwahnee only, but the other two are open to the public for a nominal fee.

LA
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6. Re: Natural Resource Swimming in Yosemite

You have to be extremely careful with small children in the streams and rivers of Yosemite.

I would venture to say that the water is far too cold and swift to be safe. You don't see many people swimming in them and there is a darn good reason. The cold can make it impossible to react quickly or swim against a current. You may think you are in a quiet, smooth-water patch, but you will find that one slip and you are in serious danger in a downhill cascade or falls.

Wetsuits just give a false sense of security. Tenaya Lake is your best bet.

Edited: 21 July 2012, 17:56
LA
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7. Re: Natural Resource Swimming in Yosemite

Although wetsuits may give some degree of mosquito protection.

Washington State
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8. Re: Natural Resource Swimming in Yosemite

bw ~ that link has some great ideas, but the Wawona info is only partially accurate. They describe the wooden covered bridge (at the Pioneer History Center) as the swinging bridge (a few miles upstream.) But they do accurately describe how to get to a very rocky part of the river ... wade-able but not swimmable.

San Diego...
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9. Re: Natural Resource Swimming in Yosemite

Thanks for the info.

Isn't there a place called "Devil's Bathtub" in Yosemite Valley Somewhat near the Ahwhanee, at the bottom of the Royal Arch Cascade? I've never been to it.

Edited: 21 July 2012, 18:05
West Palm Beach...
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10. Re: Natural Resource Swimming in Yosemite

we can also drive to bridalveil and hike to the creek for the day that would be very pretty