I recently took a day-long roadtrip to Yosemite National Park. I've never been there before, so I was quite excited to see it in person. My only exposure to the park prior to the visit was from an impressive Ansel Adams photography exhibit in Boston a few years back. Ever since then I've had an itch to see it in person.
The four hour drive there from Cupertino was interesting because the landscape changed so quickly. I got to see parts of California I haven't seen before--and realized that the majority of California east of the bay area smells like fertilizer.
When we arrived at one of the main gates, the entrance fee was $20 per car. It felt a bit awkward to hand a $20 out the window and be handed a map and tickets. It felt like I had entered an amusement park.
That feelng didn't go away as we drove along the loop in the valley. There were tourists everywhere (the irony, of course, is that I am one, too). So even if you'd wait ten minutes to take a picture and get the lighting just right, a busload of geriatrics would just slowly wander across the field and graze.
The park felt almost too manicured and accessible. While there is virtue in policies that ask visitors to stay on one path (and not disturb the wildlife), it really takes away from the experience if you are waltzing through an asphalt walkway in the middle of the wilderness.
I think the main problem was that I was in the valley, which is obviously much more developed than other areas. But to be honest, no encounter with tourists could overshadow what the park has to offer. It was good to see the more "touristy" things. The next time I'll go, I'll head up north and do some hiking instead.