Practical information: staying at Yosemite

Last spring's flood: ''We were all ready for a flood but we didn't really quite have one,'' commented Eileen Berrey of the high waters that threatened the park this past spring. The cause of concern was last year's snowfall, the highest on record. But ''the water dispersed over a period of time and the river was able to handle it,'' Ms. Berrey said.

At one time, the park lost the use of about 45 percent of the campsites on the valley floor for several weeks. Bulletins were issued that all those who came with Ticketron reservations would be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis, and because of the many cancellations almost everyone was accommodated.

All those sites are now open. ''But we had a spectacular spring because of the enormous discharge of water over the falls,'' Ms. Berrey observed. ''People who were here had a wonderful time.''

To get to Yosemite: There is daily bus transportation from Merced at 3:15 (arrives at Yosemite at 5:45). Cost: $13 one way. You can also rent a car in Merced, and there are a limited number of rental cars in the park.

Places to stay: You can make reservations up to a year in advance. At this point, hotels in the park are basically full, though sometimes you can pick up no shows or cancellations in early morning. The reservation number is (209) 373- 4171.

General information: The park offers a full range of activities. You can rent a raft to go down the Merced River, hike, or take climbing lessons; and the Yosemite Natural History Association offers specialized guided walks (see the Yosemite guide, which you should receive when you enter the park). In the evening, Wednesday through Saturday until the end of September, an actor portrays the famous naturalist in a program called Conversations With John Muir.

Day use of the park is unrestricted. Camping in Yosemite Valley is by reservation only. You can make your reservations through Ticketron up to eight weeks in advance. In summer, this part of the campground tends to be consistently full, even on weekdays. The campground outside the valley (where most activities and services are found) are on a first-come, first-served basis; if you come before noon you'll be fairly sure of getting a place.

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