Yosemite West located in Mariposa County, California is accessed via roads in Yosemite National Park. It is bordered on the west by Sierra National Forest. 0n the south, east, and north, Yosemite West is bordered by Yosemite National Park. There is a paved access road from Wawona Road to enter Yosemite West. It is marked by a signpost shown below. The elevation of this community, as reported by the USGS, is 5866 feet (1788 m). The GPS coordinates are N 37° 38.938’ W 119° 43.310’. Although appearing to be very near to the community of El Portal this community is part of Henness Ridge, towering nearly 3,000 feet (900 m) above the southern banks of the Merced River and the California from Mariposa.
Yosemite West is a small community, located in the southern area of Yosemite National Park just off Wawona Road, a continuation of California north of Fresno. It is situated one mile (1.6 km) south of the Chinquapin intersection of Wawona Road and Glacier Point Road at an altitude of 5,100–6,300 ft (1,550–1,900 m). Just outside the western boundary line of the National Park, Yosemite West is not subject to strict Park limitations on development. There are permanent residents in Yosemite West as well as a number of homes, apartments, condos and Bed & Breakfast establishments that are available as rentals for National Park visitors.
Yosemite Valley is a 20-25 minute drive from Yosemite West. Similarly, it is a 20 minute drive to great attractions like Glacier Point and Wawona golf course. Visitors and residents have easy access to all the Park's roads.
As early as 1912 logging in the Chinquapin area was started and logs were hauled to Merced Falls. The Yosemite Valley Railroad was built to remove the lumber harvested from the vast supply of Sugar Pines found along the Merced River canyon. Author Hank Johnston’s book, “Whistles Blow No More”, describes the activities of the Yosemite Lumber Company in this area. In fact, the remains of the longest Incline rail system ever built are located at what is known as Camp One, just a short distance away from the Yosemite West development. The incline rose to a height of 3,100 feet (950 m) above the Merced River. The Camp One incline was used to lower logs to the Merced River at El Portal from the logging area. One of the stops on the Yosemite Valley Railroad line was the lumber mill built by the Yosemite Lumber Company where the wood was planed, finished, dried and stored. The lumber company is gone now and as a result of natural reforestation, trees surround most homes. The old train grades were redeveloped creating paved roads and underground utilities which give Yosemite West a pleasant rural atmosphere unfettered by power lines.
Flora and fauna
Yosemite West has species of pine, cedar, dogwood, manzanita and elderberry. You can find mule deer, grey squirrels, coyote and the occasional black bear passing through the area. Bird life includes Stellar Jays, orioles, and crows. In the early spring, the dogwoods awaken with dramatic bloom of their flowers. As seasons progress, the flora changes dramatically. The California Black Oak and quaking aspens add to the golden color of this fall season.
Warning: There is no fueling station in Yosemite West! In winter conditions, usually November through March, be sure to carry snow chains as they may be required.
Yosemite West is only accessible from inside Yosemite National Park. There is no other access.
Yosemite West is located 0.6 miles south of Chinquapin, the junction of Wawona Road and Glacier Point Road. Although there was a gas station at one time at Chinquapin, it was removed in the 1990's.
To get to Yosemite West you need to enter at one of the Yosemite National Park gates. Park entrance fees are currently $20 for private vehicles and $10 for individuals on foot, bike and motorcycle. All entrance fees are valid for seven days. The Yosemite Annual Pass is available for $40, allowing park entry for one year. Alternatively, The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass can be purchased for $80, allowing free entry to all park and recreation lands controlled by the US Department of the Interior for one year. Senior Pass for those over 62, are also available.
A car can take you to most major attractions in Yosemite National Park. However some roads are seasonal with closures occurring in winter and early spring.
Chinquapin Ranger Station
Chinquapin (also, Chincapin and Chinkapin) is a former settlement in Mariposa County, California. It was located 8.5 miles (14 km) north-northwest of Wawona. Also, it is adjacent to the community of Yosemite West . Chinquapin is the midway point between Yosemite Valley and Wawona, a community inside the park.
Chinquapin was built as a junction of the Old Glacier Point Road, which was built in 1882. Previously it was a bridle trail to Glacier Point (the current Glacier Point Road, which starts immediately north of the old road was built in 1940. On a 1896 U.S. Calvary map it is marked as "Chinquapin Station" It was named Chinquapin after Chinquapin Creek, which is immediately northwest of Chinquapin. Chinquapin Creek is today called Indian Creek.
Several hiking trails start in Yosemite West. Some of the trails follow old railroad beds from the days of the Yosemite Lumber Company which logged this area in the early 20th Century. The trail head on the east side of Hwy 41 near the turnoff to Yosemite West has a parking area and the trails lead to Deer Camp and Empire Meadow. The Alder Creek Trail branches off from the Deer Camp Trail and leads to the Alder Creek Falls.
On Azalea Road, in Yosemite West, you can follow the trail to the Henness Ridge Fire Lookout which was built in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The lower branch of the trail is the Eleven Mile Trail and can be followed down to Eleven Mile Meadow, a former way-station for the stage coach lines that brought travelers to Yosemite in the past.
There are many more hiking trails nearby. Off Hwy 41 just east of the Henness Road junction is the trail head for Deer Camp Road with connections to the Alder Creek trail and Wawona. It also connects to northern trails to Glacier Point and beyond.
With the close proximity of Badger Pass Ski Area (5 mi.), Yosemite West is in an unique position to access down hill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and tubing during the winter months. Equipment rentals are available at Badger Pass. The cross-country skiing is very unique with 150 miles of trails in the snow, including many groomed trails like the trail to Glacier Point. During the winter, the visitor center at Glacier Point is converted to an overnight hut for those that venture to this designation. The facility has a bunk area that sleeps up to 20 skiers in one big room. Badger Pass is a very family oriented facility. For the very young, there is the tubing hill supervised by Badger Pass staff. A parent can ride along if they wish, to add to the experience. There are also group and private skiing lessons for all ages. For those that just want to watch, Badger Pass has a cafeteria, lounge and a large seating area on the extended deck. The deck offers a panorama view of the downhill and snowboarding slopes. The flat area in front of the deck is used by skiers and snowboarders as an equipment staging area to prep for the slopes or meet with others.
Yosemite West has a service that delivers pizza, calzones, ribs, salads and sodas to residences in the area. In addition, you have easy access to other Park restaurants and grocery stores in the Valley and Wawona.