Why Are There License Plates Sticking Out of Trees in Yosemite National Park?

Photo: National Park Service

If you’re on a summer hike in Yosemite National Park, you may come across one of these weird orange and yellow license plates sticking out of a tree. It’s truly a weird sight in some areas otherwise untouched by humans. So what are these license plates exactly? They actually serve an important purpose.

In the summertime in Yosemite, trails are pretty easily found while staying in designated areas. The National Park Service goes out of its way to properly mark every destination in order to limit the number of lost hikers in the park. In the winter, with walls of snow growing to more than 10 feet high, it’s a little bit more difficult to mark the trail. That’s where these license plates come in handy.

Park officials install these bright signs to indicate designated winter routes, some of which follow maintained hiking trails that lie hidden for much of the winter and often well into spring. These are generally placed high enough to stay visible above even the deepest winter snow allowing skiers and snowshoers to find their way.

The winter trail markers are usually made from painted metal of different sizes and shapes. The one depicted above makes use of a repurposed license plate. Here is the photo reversed to show the writing on the sign:

So now you know if you get lost in the winter in Yosemite, just follow the yellow signs to find the designated trail. Have you ever come across one of these signs in Yosemite?

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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