14 epic things to do in Yosemite National Park, California!

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Towering sequoias. Raging waterfalls. Hovering granite cliffs. Yosemite is among the oldest Nationwide Parks within the nation, and in our very biased opinion as Yosemite’s Bay Space-based neighbors, it’s additionally the most effective. And probably the most lovely. However hey, don’t take our phrase for it – simply ask John Muir or Ansel Adams.

On this publish, we’re laying out 14 actually epic issues to do in Yosemite Nationwide Park. Whether or not you wish to summit Half Dome, hike via an historical Big Sequoia forest, climb up a sheer granite cliff face with absolutely no supports (lookin’ at you, Alex Honnold, who I often see at my mountain climbing gymnasium however have by no means really met), or possibly simply spend a pleasant stress-free day portray after which going for a dip in a crystalline lake (I’ll see you there), Yosemite is a wonderland.

We tapped Suzie Dundas, a northern California-based journey author and a frequent Yosemite customer, to provide us the inside track on the most effective issues to do in Yosemite Nationwide Park. Take it away, Suzie!

Yosemite Nationwide Park At-a-Look ✍

Right here’s a bite-sized snapshot of all the things you have to know to plan your journey!

  • When to Go: Summer season is hottest …& most crowded. Go to throughout fall and winter to see a a lot quieter aspect of Yosemite!
  • The place to Keep: Rush Creek Lodge is our #1 choose for the place to remain close to Yosemite Nationwide Park, simply minutes from the Huge Oak Flat entrance.
  • Learn how to Get Round: You may get to and round Yosemite on public transit, however we advocate having your individual automotive. Use Kayak to browse rental car offers, or rent an RV on RVShare.
  • High 3 Highlights: Watching the sundown at Glacier Level, mountaineering across the perimeter of Yosemite Valley, and taking a dip in Mirror Lake. This tour is a superb introduction to Yosemite, and this tour hits all the most important landmarks and highlights and departs from El Portal or Oakhurst.
  • Earlier than You Go: Make sure you e book your day use pass upfront. We additionally advocate the Annual Parks Pass. And for those who’re low-key morbid, learn this e book on Deaths in Yosemite to know what NOT to do throughout your journey!

Psst: Exploring Northern California? Now we have a ton of journey guides for our residence! Browse them all or check out these:

We even have a number of USA Nationwide Parks journey guides! Browse them all or check out these:

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The Tioga Pass entrance station in Yosemite, CA.
The high-elevation Tioga Go entrance station is one of the simplest ways to enter the park coming from the east, like from Lake Tahoe or Nevada. However it’s closed within the winter on account of snow! Photo Credit

Yosemite Nationwide Park FAQ’s

Right here are some things you must know earlier than planning your journey to Yosemite Nationwide Park!

2021 Replace: Notice that COVID-19 well being and security rules will influence a lot of the park programming and choices in 2021. Park shuttles will not be working in 2021 and lots of occasions are canceled or working sometimes. Check the park website upfront of your journey for probably the most present COVID-19 rules. Most essential to know is that reservations are required to enter the park.

How do I get to Yosemite Nationwide Park?

Yosemite isn’t exhausting to succeed in – so long as you’ve got a automotive, and relying on the season (and the quantity of snow within the Sierra Nevadas). Yosemite is about 3 hours east of San Francisco and about 4.5 hours north of Los Angeles by automotive – assuming you don’t hit any visitors.

Yosemite has four major entrances. For those who’re coming from San Francisco, the Huge Oak Flat entrance would be the closest. Guests coming from Los Angeles and Southern California will enter by way of the Southern entrance.

For those who’re coming from the east, like from Reno or Lake Tahoe, you’ll enter by way of the high-elevation Tioga Go, which is about an hour above Yosemite Valley. (Notice that Tioga Pass Road closes within the winter across the finish of November via late Might, relying on snowfall.) 

For those who don’t have a automotive, you’ll be able to take the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation Shuttles (YARTS), which brings visitors to the park from close by cities like Mammoth Lakes, Fresno, and Merced. However due to Yosemite’s dimension and windy, scenic roads, almost everybody who visits the park has their very own automotive and makes use of the shuttles whereas within the park.

For those who don’t have a automotive otherwise you solely have sooner or later within the park, a implausible choice is to take a guided tour from El Portal. You may sit again and calm down as you’re pushed to a lot of the main websites in sooner or later, together with Tunnel View, Glacier Level, and Yosemite Falls, plus lunch and a hike.

You too can select to go to the park on a guided tour with transportation offered from San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and even Los Angeles (this option even consists of 2 nights of tenting within the park!). For those who’re involved about transportation, wanting so as to add Yosemite to an present California journey, or don’t wish to mess with the effort of planning, these excursions are a implausible choice.

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How do I get round Yosemite Nationwide Park?

Your finest wager is to drive – the park is gigantic and the roads working via the park are extremely scenic!

However for those who’d slightly not fear about parking or don’t have a automotive, Yosemite NP does have just a few free shuttles. Which to take will depend on what a part of the park you wish to see. That mentioned, transferring between Yosemite’s various regions on free park transportation is troublesome and sluggish, so plan to spend an entire day in every spot. 

Throughout the park, you will get round utilizing the free Yosemite Valley Shuttle, which makes 20 stops all through the Yosemite Valley. The free shuttle runs year-round throughout daytime hours. The shuttle’s schedule adjustments all year long – as do the stops – relying on the climate and crowds, so make sure you take a look at the bus schedule each visitor is given when getting into the park.

There’s additionally a free shuttle within the Tuolumne meadows space which strikes guests between Tioga Pass and Olmsted Point, and runs from early June to mid-September.  

How lengthy ought to my journey to Yosemite be?

I like to recommend no less than two nights per go to. For those who’re mountaineering, you’ll respect waking up close to the park to get an early begin on the paths and having a brief commute again to your tent or resort at evening. 

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What’s the most effective time of the 12 months to go to Yosemite Nationwide Park?

Although most individuals go to through the summer season months (which suggests crowds), Yosemite is completely beautiful throughout all 4 seasons.

Most individuals go to in late spring and early summer season, when higher-elevation trails are freed from snow and it’s nonetheless heat sufficient at evening to camp. The park’s waterfalls peak in late spring as snow melts, and summer season provides probably the most enticing climate for backpacking (in addition to probably the most hours of daylight). However crowds will likely be at an all-time excessive at the moment.

Whereas I’ve visited in all seasons, fall is my favourite. There’s one thing in regards to the leaves erupting with shades of orange and crimson within the Valley, the crisp autumn air, and a roaring campfire (and possibly a small bottle of whiskey from the Yosemite Camp retailer) that simply screams “good autumn weekend” to me. Simply be conscious that it could dip under freezing temperatures at evening and snow can fall at increased elevations as early as October. 

Within the winter, anticipate almost all the things within the park to be lined in snow, in addition to smaller crowds. It’s arguably the most effective time for photographers, although most trails and Tioga Go will likely be inaccessible. There’s something magical in regards to the stillness of the park throughout this season, and it nearly looks as if a completely completely different world.

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Is Yosemite Nationwide Park crowded?

It is best to anticipate giant crowds in peak season, between Might to late September. Throughout these months, campsite and resort reservations can replenish a 12 months upfront, so make your plans as quickly as doable.

To keep away from crowds within the Valley and extra fashionable areas of the park, go to within the low season, between October and April. Throughout Yosemite’s fall and winter, parking is less complicated to search out, motels are extra reasonably priced, and chances are you’ll even discover house fully to your self – particularly when you get just a few miles previous the trailheads.

The rest I ought to know earlier than visiting Yosemite Nationwide Park?

Listed below are just a few key issues to know earlier than you propose your journey to Yosemite NP:

  • Yosemite Nationwide Park is big. The park covers 1,189 sq. miles, making it the identical dimension as Rhode Island. The Valley alone is 8 miles lengthy! For comparability, the park is twice as giant as Zion National Park and greater than 20 occasions the scale of Manhattan. It’s huge. Plan ample time to drive from part to part – anticipate it to take a number of hours to drive from one a part of the park to a different, and attempt to plan your actions inside the identical park areas as a lot as doable.
  • The important thing to visiting Yosemite is one mantra: “go away it higher than you discovered it.” Heavy foot visitors damages pure landscapes, so educated guests have to do their half. Yosemite even has a volunteer park-wide clean-up day every September. For those who see trash, choose it up. Don’t step on small crops off-trail. And at all times comply with Leave No Trace principles. 
  • By no means go away meals or something with a scent (like lip balm) in your automotive. Bears are sensible and are greater than able to opening automotive doorways and smashing home windows. Bears that affiliate people with meals can turn out to be harmful to people, and bears which might be harmful to people are sometimes euthanized. It’s each guests’ accountability to maintain wildlife wild. Each campground and car parking zone could have dozens of steel bear bins – outside lockers the place visitors can safely retailer their meals for the day as an alternative of leaving it of their automotive. They’re free and unlocked, so simply discover one with house and toss something with a scent inside slightly than leaving it in your automotive. 
  • Re-think that selfie. Yosemite has no scarcity of lovely vistas, however there are a number of deaths within the park annually from individuals getting too near cliffs to seize a photograph. Be extraordinarily cautious, particularly round fashionable lookout factors like Taft Point and Vernal Falls
  • Decelerate. Every thing from bears to squirrels to deer and even the occasional mountain lion could run in entrance of your automotive with out warning. Don’t let your negligence trigger an animal’s dying.

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