Lonely Planet Writer

Meet the man who was born and raised in Yosemite National Park

John Reynolds is the postmaster in charge of the Yosemite National Park in California. Born in 1959 in the Lewis Memorial Hospital on the park grounds, he has spent his entire life in the beautiful surroundings.

Yosemite Postmaster John Reynolds with his wife Christine Reynolds. during president Obama's visit this year.
Yosemite Postmaster John Reynolds with his wife Christine Reynolds. during president Obama’s visit this year. Image by John and Christine Reynolds

For John, growing up with one of the most visited and well-loved national parks in the country as his playground was nothing out of the ordinary. “I didn’t give a second thought to the freedom and nature I grew up with. I may have taken for granted having this valley as my own backyard! Now I am humbled by the thousands of visitors I meet and the awe they have when they learn that I actually live here. Having spent over 35 years working for the post office in Yosemite, I have been fortunate to serve the public, my neighbours and the millions of visitors that come here. I feel very fortunate to live here and have gained perspective over the decades travelling to other parts of the United States and abroad,” John told Lonely Planet News.

Old family photos. 3 year old John sits on the steps of the post office where his parents first met and Crane Flat HeliPad, in 1966.
Old family photos. 3-year-old John sits on the steps of the post office where his parents first met and Crane Flat HeliPad, in 1966.

John’s mother fell in love with the Yosemite Valley after her first trip there in 1946. She quickly found a job with the family who were part of the concessionaire system for the park, working as a clerk in the main post office that John now works at. It was also at this post office that his parents first met before marrying in 1958.

As the postmaster in Yosemite, John’s job is unique. “I have 3 clerks that assist with mail delivery here in and around the park all year round in the three post offices. Seasonally, we open a 4th office out of the Tuolumne Meadows Market for peak season,” John explains.

Scenic view of Yosemite Park
Scenic view of Yosemite Park

The delivery is only to PO Boxes throughout the park, with no home delivery. During high season, Yosemite has approximately 2500 residents that operate all of the concessionaire and park services. In quieter seasons there is an average of 1500 residents.

The famous Half Dome at Yosemite.
The famous Half Dome at Yosemite. Image by Airwolfhound / CC BY 2.0

The many years growing up in such a unique and inspiring place has taught John some good lessons. “Being able to serve the locals as well as world travellers by simply selling a stamp or helping them navigate their time here is a pleasure. The challenges of working this terrain has taught me patience and how to remain calm in the face of adversity.”

John and his father in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Trees in 1965 and John and his parents in 1965 at Glacier Point when a hotel still stood at the top.
John and his father in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Trees in 1965 and John and his parents in 1965 at Glacier Point when a hotel still stood at the top. Image by Christine Reynolds

John still lives and works in the Yosemite National Park with his wife Christine. Their children come to visit them and spend time in the beautiful surroundings.

Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park.
Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park. Image by Nimish Gogri / CC BY 2.0

Yosemite National Park has nearly 4 million visitors each year and is one of the most popular sites in California. This month marks the centennial of the National Park Service, with a range of events organised.