Visiting the Hetch Hetchy reservoir and dam
It must have been amazing to see the Hetch Hetchy Valley in its unspoiled and natural state prior prior to it being dammed up as a reservoir to fill the water needs of the Bay Area and San Francisco. Below is a beautiful black and white photograph taken of the valley prior to the the dam project being started in 1914, quite stunning isn’t it?
Hetch Hetchy Valley image in public domain prior to Jan 21, 1923
What to see at Hetchy Hetchy
Visiting the Hetch Hetchy reservoir and dam for the first time was an unexpected treat seeing that this place has always been on my radar, but never convenient time-wise when visiting Yosemite. It’s always never enough time visiting Yosemite which is always the key destination, so there is never any time left for a detour to this sister valley, which is just a short drive and along the way back to the Bay Area.
Upon visiting the site for the first time, I’m pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it is despite the fact that the main granite formations of Kolana Rock and Hetch Hetchy Dome are mostly buried in the dammed portion of the reservoir. Still, it is quite dramatic and the walk through the dam is easy and gives different vistas to the reservoir and the valley floor on the other side of the dam.
The Hetchy Hetchy reservoir and dam had a controversial history with its completion of the O’Shaunessy dam in 1923 to supply San Francisco and it’s municipalities. Until present day, it is still contested and many actions are ongoing to try to return this magnificent valley back to its original state. There are many efforts from conservation groups but is quite an uphill battle involving many municipalities, cities and water rights advocates who need the water. Currently, this case has reached a recent judgement of the efforts to revert the site. This is the start of a series of posts covering my favorite park in California, Yosemite Valley, here’s the next post if you would like to continue reading the series.
Where to stay in Yosemite area
There are many options in visiting the area either if you stay in the valley, camp or just outside in the smaller communities leading up to the national park. Places do book up early during the visiting season, so plan well ahead for your visit and book in advanced. Here are some suggestions on where to stay in the area.
Yosemite View Lodge – located in El Portal just on the outside of the park entrance, with large rooms overlooking the river, large baths with Jacuzzi, friendly service and park shuttles.
The Majestic Yosemite Hotel – called Awhanee before this classic national park hotel is stunning and with period details and modern amenities.
Yosemite Valley Lodge – centrally located in the park village area with plenty of choices to dine and shop in the village, clean rooms and pick up for shuttle service.
Half Dome Village – Camping accommodation set up close to Half Dome – if you want to experience camping with heat, bedding supplies and bathroom services close by without the hassle of slepping stuff.
For more reviews of places to stay around Yosemite, check out this link for current prices and availability.
Check out these other posts on Visiting Yosemite
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