hetch hetchy yosemite

Hetch Hetchy

hetch hetchy o'shaughnessy dam yosemiteBy Heather

I should be very ashamed to admit this, but until a few years ago, I had no idea that Hetch Hetchy, a valley flooded to create a reservoir, was in Yosemite.

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I knew of Hetch Hetchy. I’m not that ignorant. But I thought it was some reservoir just outside the city. In my head, it was behind a high school right off Woodside Road in Redwood City.


I also didn’t know how beautiful it was before they dammed it up until watching Ken Burns’ “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”

While I side with John Muir on the whole matter of whether it should have been dammed at all, you have to admit the O’Shaughnessy Dam is pretty impressive.

hetch hetchy valley o'shaughnessy dam

Hetch Hetchy is less than an hour’s drive from the Valley floor. On the way, we saw a ton of the damage from the Rim Fire, which was two years ago this month. The damage was massive and went on for miles.

We also saw this super adorable lodge that I am definitely going to come back to someday. I love mountain lodges.

Back to Hetch Hetchy. Getting in is free, as is parking, which is just down the hill next to the dam.

ranger shelton johnson autograph

If you have a National Park Passport, there’s a stamp available at the ranger station.

When I got my stamp, I had to hand my book over to the ranger so he could do it. It was open to the page with Ranger Shelton Johnson’s autograph.

The ranger took it, looked at the page and paused.

“Who is this? Hey… What? Hey, guys! She’s got Shelton Johnson’s autograph! Wow!”

The other rangers quickly scurried over to look. I wanted to say “But he’s your coworker! Surely you see him sometimes?”

I guess he doesn’t make his way over to Hetch Hetchy much!

Hetch Hetchy is also notable because we remembered to get a picture of ourselves together. I’m trying to be better about that.

And yes, this is pretty much what I look like when I go camping: A dirty hippie in baggy clothes who likes Winnie the Pooh.

hetch hetchy yosemite