Yosemite’s stunning natural beauty was the impetus for designating the area a national park on October 1, 1890, and it is still inspiring visitors 125 years later. This treasure of the Sierra Nevadas is home to legendary granite monoliths, including El Capitan and Half Dome, as well as waterfalls, lakes, deep valleys, majestic meadows, and ancient giant sequoias.
Central California, accessible from San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, Nevada
What to Do
Art & photography, rock climbing, biking, birdwatching, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, ice skating, stargazing, guided touring, water activities, camping, backpacking
When to Go
The park is open all year though some areas are inaccessible by car from approximately November through May. Millions of people visit Yosemite in the high season from April through October, so if you don’t want crowds, go at another time or plan a human-powered getaway into the wilderness.
Yosemite Valley includes the most famous attractions in the park, such as Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. These iconic areas are almost always busy, but they are definitely worth seeing despite the crowds.
If you’re ready for a more remote adventure, head up to Hetch Hetchy Valley in the park’s peaceful northwest corner. Located at 3,900 feet, Hetch Hetchy is a hiker’s paradise full of thundering waterfalls and wildflower displays in the spring. Though temperatures rise in the summer, you can cool off in hidden canyons and high-country lakes.
The Glacier Point overlook provides a breathtaking view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Yosemite’s high country. You can get there by car from late May through October or November, but the road is closed once snow begins to accumulate. That just makes the trip even more fun. Strap on some cross-country skis and tour 10 miles up to the viewpoint.
Hang out with giants. The Mariposa Grove is Yosemite’s largest ancient sequoia grove, with 500 mature giant sequoias. A 4-mile, round-trip hike with 500 feet of elevation change gets you to the grove, and you can continue on another 1.5 miles round trip to the 1,800-year-old Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel Tree.
Some consider Yosemite the rock climbing center of the universe, so do some climbing, even if you’re a newbie. We can’t all be Alex Honnold, so the park offers an endless variety of challenges for every level of climber. Climbing instruction and guide services are available in the park.
Walk through the reconstructed village of Ahwahnee and learn about the Ahwahneechee people who have lived in the Yosemite area for perhaps as long as 7,000 years. Discover the wide variety of plants they used for food, medicine, and making tools such as baskets, and see the ceremonial roundhouse, bark houses, and sweathouse that members of the local Miwok tribes still use.Read More...
You can drive your car, take a shuttle, or ride your bike around the main paved roads of Yosemite. Explore further by hiking, backpacking, or trying a unique wilderness mode of transportation–a mule ride.
A reservation will be required to drive into Yosemite during peak hours starting May 20, 2022.
If you’re in the park from mid- to late-February, you can catch an amazing Yosemite sight. Horsetail Fall transforms into a cascade of what appears to be water on fire when it reflects the orange glow of sunset. The sunset also lights up the granite walls in brilliant reds and oranges.
Yosemite is home to over 400 animal species, including bears. If you’re camping, pack everything that has a scent—including food, soap, toothpaste, and trash—inside the bear lockers provided. Never leave food or other smelly items in your car, truck bed, or roof compartment overnight. Bears can and do break into cars.
Just outside the park, lies the town of Bodie, once a vibrant community of 10,000 residents but now a ghost town preserved in a state of "arrested decay." Walk the deserted streets and explore the old church, the mill, and 170 other buildings. If you’re up for mingling with ghosts, it’s best to go after dark.Read More...