Yosemite just might be the iconic US National Park. A land of giants, massive granite cliffs and domes providing the setting for dramatic waterfalls to tumble thousands of feet over. Your journey starts as you approach the Park entrances with an overview of the geological features you’ll be viewing and how time and the elements have shaped the valley.
While in Yosemite Valley, with stops at Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls you should scan for rock climbers on the sheer granite El Capitan. Considered a mecca for climbers from all over the world, you’ll hear about their feats, while new records may be set for you to see.
Thankfully, there is a growing interest for interpretive areas to learn about the local Native American Miwok people, now available at the Yosemite Museum and Mariposa Grove.
As we climb to the spectacular Glacier Point for views down into the valley, you’ll learn how important Presidential visits shaped the future for National Parks and hear how the legendary Buffalo Soldiers became guardians of the National Park.
Travel to a hidden corner of Yosemite National Park, the Hetch Hetchy Valley and feel rather insignificant as you stand under the towering Giant Sequoias in Mariposa Grove.
Groveland, Mariposa, Fish Camp or Tioga Pass entrances
Although you can see the main highlights in a single day, plan for extra time to explore all areas and time for hiking
Known for its majestic waterfalls, massive granite cliffs, and gorgeous high alpine lakes, Yosemite National Park is one of America’s favorite national parks. The park is absolutely packed with famous landmarks including El Capitan, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls.
Peak season at Yosemite National Park runs from early June through August. Spring, during peak runoff season, is the best time to see the park’s waterfalls. If you want to hike or backpack in Tuolumne Meadows, July and August are the best times to visit. Fall is also great but expect cool nighttime temperatures and snow as early as October.
It’s important to note that many of Yosemite’s roads and trails are closed for much of the year due to snow.
A minimum of two days is ideal for trips to Yosemite National Park. This gives you an entire day to see the sights in Yosemite Valley and another to explore another region of the park such as Hetch Hetchy or Tuolumne Meadows.
Yes, you can drive throughout Yosemite, though many visitors also use the shuttles to move around the compact 7 mile Yosemite Valley portion in peak months.
The 46 miles drive along Tioga Road is particularly scenic and open seasonally from late June to November.
There are five entrances to Yosemite National Park so it really just depends on where you are arriving from. Most visitors will come through the Big Oak Flat Entrance or the Arch Rock – El Portal Entrance, which is located southeast of Big Oak Flat.
Yosemite National Park implemented entrance reservations for select dates in February during Firefall, when Horsetail Fall can glow orange when backlit by the sunset. For details visit nps.gov.