Why hurry to Yosemite National Park when the journey can be as rewarding as the destination? The extremely dog-friendly Yosemite Region encompasses four gateway counties, each with its own unique set of attractions. Dogtrekker is celebrating Yosemite’s 150th anniversary with a look at places and diversions for DogTrekkers to check out along the major highway corridors leading to the iconic park.
The Highway 140 corridor through Mariposa County offers plenty of dog-friendly fun along its winding way. The gateway communities of Midpines, Mariposa and El Portal, not far from Yosemite’s Arch Rock entrance, are surrounded by public lands and make great base camps for outdoor-oriented DogTrekkers. Campgrounds abound, along with dog-friendly lodging where you and Duke will find a warm welcome at the end of your day.
The Merced River is a recreational magnet in this part of Mariposa County, and one of the best ways to appreciate its wild and scenic beauty is with a hike on the Hite Cove portion of the 18-mile Merced River Trail. Wildflowers are abundant in season, with some coming into bloom as late as July. Another good paws-to-the-path choice: Briceburg Canyon Trail, where a rail trail starting on the far side of a suspension bridge at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) visitors center runs for four miles on a hillside above the river along the former route of the Yosemite Valley Railroad.
In Midpines, the family-friendly Yosemite/Mariposa KOA makes a great base camp for do-it-yourselfers. It offers camping cabins as well as RV and tent sites, along with a swimming pool, clubhouse, playground, Merced River fishing access and other amenities on a 30-acre site.
El Portal is a bustling gateway town where many DogTrekkers choose to stay while visiting the park. A solid and moderately priced choice is Yosemite View Lodge, with rooms overlooking the rushing Merced River. Of course, you may get “The Bug”—Yosemite Bug, that is. This rustic mountain resort is perhaps the most diverse property in the area, offering lodging in new cabins, older cabins with shared bath, tent cabins and even hostel-style dorm rooms. Dogs are welcome in all but the dorm rooms, and attitudes toward canines are extremely relaxed.