Yosemite's Smokey Problem: Potheads

Drugs busts are 4 times as high as next closest national park

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 28, 2013 5:57 PM CDT

(Newser) – Ah, Yosemite: That iconic symbol of nature where generations of tourists have hiked, snapped pictures, camped, and ... smoked a lot of weed? As NBC Bay Area reports, drug busts at Yosemite are up 18% in the six years on the record books, and are four times as high as the next closest national park—2,393 arrests between 2010 and 2012, compared to 500 at Yellowstone. “We were comparing it to Disneyland,” says one dad who smelled pot near his campsite. “We see a lot more happy faces here in Yosemite than we did in Disneyland.”

The reasons behind the stats depend on who you ask, with the magistrate in Yosemite Valley saying that many tourists arrive "with a little bit of a spring break mentality." A defense lawyer says that the geographical concentration of most tourists lets rangers focus on a seven-square-mile area, and a local says those rangers take it seriously: “It’s really not fair because they target you,” he says. “They know that people around here smoke pot.”

This April 2013 image shows Half Dome, the iconic granite peak in Yosemite National Park in California. Apparently, you put your weed in there.   (AP Photo/Kathy Matheson)
This April 2013 image shows the bottom of Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite National Park in California.   (AP Photo/Kathy Matheson)
This Sept. 20, 2012 photo shows an unnamed lake in Yosemite National Park’s backcountry. The scenery apparently attracts a lot of potheads.   (AP Photo/John Pain)
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