Back at the turn of the century, (1900) there were two
communities that were in existence in the Eastern and Southern areas before Yosemite was
declared a National Park. These communities were grandfathered in to what is now
essentially private land ownership within the national park. These lands are
presently owned by private homeowners on a fee-simple, grant-deed basis as
opposed to the more common form of ownership in these situations, a 99-year
lease. Wawona, located 5 minutes from the south gate, is one such area with
about 150 homeowners, and Foresta, in the foothills at the far western edge of the park
just above El Portal, is the other with far fewer homes, about 25 or 30.
In 1990, a huge forest fire swept through the western part of the park, burning for almost
a week before dying out. You will travel through the burned areas along the Highway 41 route
into the park, that is, coming from the south gate.
This fire destroyed about 90% of the Foresta
area. Foresta used to be gorgeous. Tall, green trees, lots of
shade, a deep forest. The fire did not destroy the large meadow with
the two beautiful barns that reside on it, and these are still a sight to
behold. The roads in Foresta have undergone a major improvement project.
Though still dirt, they have been graded and a layer of fine gravel has been
laid down resulting in roads that are much improved AND with much less dust
than before. Previously, there were deep ruts, large rocks protruding
and they were very, very dusty.
All of the burned-down houses have
been removed, and there have been many new houses built in their place.
These are attractive homes anyone would be happy to rent. See photos
HOWEVER: Foresta is different
from most other accommodations in the park. It's at a lower elevation,
and is considerably warmer than the rest of the park. But, it's a
wide-open area and you will have a great view of the surrounding mountains
and sky. It is tomb-quiet, and you'll get plenty of peace and quiet,
24 hours a day.
The home you rent in Foresta is likely
to be quite nice, and, admittedly, you can see Half Dome and El Capitan from the
front porch of many of these new homes, but the surrounding landscape is not
as pretty as in past years.
However, at night you will have a supernatural view of the heavens...
and, again, it's quiet as a tomb.
Other People's Opinions
an opinion from someone who has owned property up there for many
"I do agree with you about how Foresta
looks, but I think that it is a very unique place. We own a cabin there
where I have spent most of my childhood and plan to spend a lot more
time as I get older. We rebuilt our cabin and added indoor plumbing
(yeah!) have also replanted a lot of trees. The people that live in
Foresta are people that have owned property there forever, just like my
grandparents. I know that Foresta is not a great place to spend an
ideal Yosemite vacation if you want the forest scenery, but it gets you
away from the hustle and bustle your home/work life. I wonder if you
even know how many years we had to fight with the National Park to even
get to our own land to rebuild. They were very set in not letting us
rebuild and the park wanted to taking over our property and extending
the boundaries of Yosemite. Also, there have been a lot of rumors that
the park let our cabins burn down because they want us out of Yosemite.
Maybe that's why people are so outraged as to why you are degrading
Foresta. It's a place our family loves to go regardless of the scenery
because it's our "little piece of heaven". Not many people own property
in Yosemite, that's why we take so much pride in our ownership. We plan
to stay there as long as our generations of family last, so we don't
care if you like it or not, but there is no reason to exploit it and
give everyone a bad feeling about the area. There is still forested
areas in Forest, but you probably didn't make it far enough since you
were complaining about the roads! Hope maybe you decide to change your
site and not concentrate on the negative things that Forest has to
offer! And you don't have to worry about me not responding to add some
positive aspects to your site, because I will respond to it!
...and another opinion:
"...Our family made a last minute
decision to visit Yosemite as part of a California business trip my
husband was taking. With such late notice, the only DNC housing
available in the Valley was Curry tent cabins or Housekeeping Camp and
with the cool nighttime temps we decided we wanted walls. But because
we wanted to be close to the valley, I hesitantly rented a house in
Foresta, in spite of your warning, mostly because of proximity and I
figured we'd be there mostly at night.
Well, we were greatly and very pleasantly surprised. Once you get over
the "pin cushion" look of the burned trees, Foresta turned out to be a
great place to stay! So much closer than Yosemite West, where we
have rented in the past or the Redwoods (which is too far away, too
crowded and too expensive), the seclusion and the peace and quiet were
amazing to find so close to the Valley. An added bonus was I didn't have
to worry about my kids wandering off in the woods, thanks to Foresta's
open landscape. The house and Foresta were so nice we spent more
daytime hours there than I had anticipated.
...The trees are small but the landscape was quite green,
even in dry Sept, we saw lots of wildlife and the roads were in
excellent condition, mostly paved and some well graded gravel. It was
one of our best Yosemite experiences (and I have visited Yosemite often
over a 30 year period) and we look forward to returning to the same
rental house in the Spring to see some waterfall action (it was the
first time I had ever seen Yosemite Falls completely dry--shocking.)
Foresta is a different experience but not at all an unpleasant one, just
the opposite in fact. Yosemite's biggest drawback is it is so overrun
with people (unless you go Dec-Feb) but to find a place so quiet and
unpopulated, but still so close to the Valley was like a dream come true
as far as I was concerned.
Or maybe you should leave your website as is and keep Foresta an
amazing Yosemite secret."
(native Californian, currently in Chesapeake, Virginia)
"My friends and I love to stay there ([Foresta] and want to be able to
get the houses we want when we want them. It is a bit open and not quite
recovered but címon, compared to some of your other options, it is
fantastic. Peace and quite, away from the Valley floor yet close enough
to get into the craziness if you want. And, compared to Valley prices,
it is a deal. And, compared to options like Oakhurst or El Portal Ė
well, if you think Foresta is ugly I canít imagine what you must think
of these places."