Are you planning a trip to the Sierra Nevada?
No vacation would be complete without a trip to Yosemite National Park.
This third-most visited national park is a gem to behold, from the famed Yosemite Valley to the commanding presence of El Capitan and the seasonally cascading falls.
Whether you prefer to get in on the action through hiking and rafting or instead take in the scenery through a photography lens, there’s never a shortage of things to do in Yosemite National Park.
Map out your travels ahead of time, because as soon as you arrive, you will want to do everything!
General Tips for Visiting Yosemite
Big, busy national parks can be overwhelming without some background knowledge. Here’s what you need to know before arriving.
- Expect (Big) Crowds: Millions of people visit Yosemite National Park during the summer season, so it might take considerable effort to get yourself off the beaten path. Arriving before peak hours (before 9 am or after 5 pm) is a smart plan.
- Plan Ahead About Where You’ll Stay: You don’t need reservations to stay in Yosemite, but it’s highly recommended you make them to limit the chance of finding yourself without a place to sleep.
- Dress Appropriately: Yosemite National Park weather can change quickly, so bring layered clothes that you can take on and off, and pack plenty of water and sunscreen.
Hiking in Yosemite National Park
The best way to experience the wilderness of Yosemite is to set foot in it for a hike.
No matter where you start within the park, the odds are good that you’re never far from a world-class hike. With over 800 miles of foot trails within the borders, Yosemite is a premier hiking destination for thousands each year.
Whether you want to make it to half dome or wish to make a loop that leads you to a wildflower-lined lake, there are plenty of hikes available to match your landscape goals and fitness level.
Being prepared is vital, so be sure to bring a Yosemite National Park map or guidebook along with you to avoid the stress of not knowing where you are.
Places to Visit in Yosemite National Park
Anywhere you choose to spend your days in Yosemite is well worth the time, but below are some of the biggest ‘must see’ locations to add to your list.
Bridal Veil Falls
As one of the most prominent waterfalls in Yosemite Valley, the 188-meter high Bridal Veil falls can be enjoyed right from the road. However, the best pictures are taken from its base, which can be accessed from a steep trail.
Fed solely by snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite Falls typically reaches peak flow in mid-May and drives up over the warm summer months. You can expect it back again in October when the snows start again.
John Muir Trail
Long distance hikers, rejoice! The John Muir trail offers 210 miles of stunning, challenging terrain and passes through Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Park. Whether you hike the trail for an afternoon or complete the whole thing, you are sure to enjoy the experience.
This glacial valley offers stunning vistas and ample opportunities for hiking and wildlife spotting throughout the plains.
As the famed granite dome on the eastern end of Yosemite Valley, this unique geological feature is a must-see for every visitor.
El Capitan Yosemite
Do you have a passion for rock climbing? El Capitan is sure to satisfy it. This vertical rock formation extends over 3,000 feet from the base and offers challenging climbing opportunities for every skill level.
Where to Stay in Yosemite National Park
Throughout Yosemite national park, camping, hotels, and other lodging options are available to allow you to relax and rejuvenate after an excursion-filled day.
Below are four common ways to set up your Yosemite National Park lodging so that the experience is as stress-free as a vacation should be.
Bed and Breakfast Options: A delight in all weather conditions, Yosemite Park bed and breakfasts offer a quaint and timeless alternative to commercial hotels.
Camping and Campgrounds: For a stripped-down experience, Yosemite offers stunning camping options throughout the park. You can choose to stay in a designated campground or backpack into the wilderness to temporarily get away from it all.
Cabin Rentals: Looking for a cute, homey space to call your own for a few days? Cabin rentals in Yosemite are a great option. You can choose from rustic cabins to stunning vacation homes, all within easy access to the park’s best features.
Hotels and Motels in Yosemite: Whether you’re looking for a budget option or prefer to luxuriate in the best Yosemite resorts, there is sure to be a hotel accommodation that fits your vision.
Make Memories in Yosemite National Park
Outdoor enthusiasts and casual day trippers agree – Yosemite National Park can’t be missed. Plan your trip to the park today, and you’ll cherish the memories you make for years to come.