Published on November 7, 2020

Yosemite Mariposa abounds with creatures great and small. From oak-studded foothills to 13,000-foot granite peaks, the animals enjoy a pristine sweep of unmatched beauty where they feed and play freely.  Some prefer the dense cover of forest, while others splash in the crystal clear waters of Yosemite’s many lakes and rivers. And of course, there’s the cute and chubby marmot, who’s fond of sunbathing out in the open on a warm slab of granite!

For kids, spotting these fantastic beasts in-person is a once-in-a-lifetime thrill, and the perfect way to learn about the amazing biodiversity of our planet. To make these observations sporting, we’ve put together a game called Beast Mode Yosemite. Whether you’re on foot or in a car, whether you’re day-tripping or enjoying an extended edu-tourism stay, BMY opens up fun yet educational door into the wilderness of Yosemite Mariposa. The excitement on your child’s face when seeing an animal in its natural habitat is unmistakable, and having cute little hiking boots on the ground is something you both will remember for years to come.

Beast Mode Yosemite Rules

The rules are simple. You get Base Camp Points for spotting a specific Yosemite Mariposa animal.  The harder to find, the more points.

Beast Booster Points. You get one extra point for each distinct thing you can list about the beast, i.e. what it looks like, where you see it (habitat) and what it’s doing.  Maximum of three points.  Teaches the art of observation!

Mystery Beasts. Mystery Beasts are those you spot but aren’t sure how to identify. Describe them and try to unlock the mystery later in camp or at your hotel.

Winner.  Whoever gets the most points. The game-ending is up to you. Play for a set period of time (i.e. a few hours, a day, or your entire trip); until someone reaches X number of points (i.e. 10 points); or even cooperation mode where everyone combines their points. How about a prize for the winners?  Summer burgers & ice cream or winter cinnamon rolls & hot chocolate sound nice! Click here for a printable game card.

Pro Gamer Tips

  • Get out of the car and hike! All the senses come into play, whether it’s listening for the specific call of a bird or gazing across a meadow for a mama bear and her cubs.
  • Bring a pair of binoculars! Viewing from a safe distance insures you won’t startle the animals and increase your chances of spotting the shy ones. Plus kids just love binoculars…even if they hold them backward!
    • Never feed wildlife! Human food is junk food to animals, and they need a natural diet to say healthy.
  • Bring a camera/phone for zoom shots, and for double-checking proper identification back at camp/hotel, i.e. the difference between a golden-mantled ground squirrel and a California ground squirrel.
  • Know your seasons! Some animals hibernate in winter, some are more active in spring, etc.
    • Use Beast Mode Yosemite to launch a deeper dive into Nature Rules and wildlife conservation.  Teach kids about such things as Endangered Species, hibernation, nocturnal vs diurnal, climate change and native vs. non-native species. [link each of these or let the parents research themselves?]
  • Extra credit: buy or make a blank Beast Mode Yosemite Field Guide before you go and encourage your kids to draw, label and date what they’ve seen! It’s a great way to wrap up your Yosemite Mariposa game day and makes for a fridge-worthy memento once you get back home.

Click here to download a PDF of Beast Mode Yosemite

Categories: Family and Kid Friendly, Things to See