YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Yosemite’s 1,200 square miles is set in the Sierra Nevada mountains encompassing gorgeous alpine lakes, lush meadows, awe-inspiring granite peaks, waterfalls, and groves of giant sequoia's. In our opinion, Yosemite is America's most beautiful National Park and I don't think there is anywhere else on this earth quite like it! It's not hard to see why this place attracts over four million visitors annually. Yosemite National Park is divided into three main area's you can visit:
Yosemite Valley is the parks main attraction and is the most heavily visited. This is where you will find most of the park's facilities & services such as hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, grocery stores, visitors center, souvenir shops and more.
Glacier Point which is located high above Yosemite Valley has outstanding views of Yosemite's iconic landmarks from above. Ranger talks are given daily throughout summer.
Tioga Pass is a 47 mile scenic drive that will give you a glimpse into sub-alpine wilderness. If you have time make sure you visit all three sections of the park as they are nothing short of spectacular!
YOSEMITE GUIDE BOOKS
Best Times To Visit Yosemite
SUMMER - Summer is when the waterfalls begin to diminish and when Yosemite Valley can be heavily crowded with visitors but this is the perfect weather for hiking, star gazing and camping.
SPRING - Spring is a great time to visit when the waterfalls are flowing fast and crowds are still thin.
AUTUMN - Autumn is of course great for viewing fall colors.
WINTER - Winter has its own draw card of seeing the park and all the pine’s frosted in white. However, in winter only Yosemite Valley is accessible. The road to Glacier Point and Tioga Pass closes sometime in November depending on snowfall.
How To Get To Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is a four hour drive from San Francisco and a six hour drive from Los Angeles. All roads into Yosemite National Park are well maintained but be aware they are narrow and winding. If you are visiting between November - April you should carry tire chains with you. There are four entrances into the park:
From Los Angeles you can enter via the South entrance on Highway 41 (this will take you through Mariposa and Wawona where you can see the stand of Sequioia tree's at Mariposa Grove and detour to Glacier Point before heading to Yosemite Valley).
From San Francisco you can take Highway 120 and enter the park via the Big Oak Flat entrance.
From Las Vegas you can take Highway 395 and then get on Tioga Pass into Yosemite Valley (although this road closes sometime in November).
The closest airport is Fresno/Yosemite International Airport which is 2.5 hours away. From here you can organize a bus with YARTS which provides a motorcoach service into Yosemite. See the YARTS routes and schedules.
By Tour Bus:
If you’re not comfortable driving in the USA or would prefer your itinerary organized by someone else, you can choose to visit Yosemite on a tour from L.A. or San Francisco. You can usually find tour options that are either a day trip or an overnight excursion (which has your accommodation taken care of).
Lodging in Yosemite National Park
Lodging In Yosemite Valley
There are several accommodation options available in Yosemite Valley including campgrounds. Obviously lodging in Yosemite Valley books out quickly, especially in the high season so you want to make sure you book your room or campsite months in advance. You can see the lodging options inside Yosemite Valley National Park below. Click on any of the images to learn more about each hotel.
Camping in Yosemite
Camping in Yosemite is extremely popular and some of the reservation only campgrounds are booked months in advance! Campgrounds requiring reservations are usually full from around April through to September.
There are a few campgrounds inside the park which are first come first-served such as popular Camp 4 Campground, for these we recommend lining up very early in the morning if you want to make sure you get a site. We have seen people lined up for many nights in a row during peak season just waiting to get a spot.
You can see this Guide To Camping in Yosemite National Park and see all the campground options to choose from and find out further information on how to make a reservation through the parks system.
Hiking in Yosemite
The best way to see and experience Yosemite National Park is by taking a hike and seeing all that mother nature has to offer up close. It doesn't matter what your fitness level is, there are hikes to suit everyone's level. You can visit Lower Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake or do the Valley Floor loop if you are looking for an easy hike. Those who are willing to hike a little longer will be able to get up close to Vernal and Nevada Falls on either the Mist Trail or John Muir Trail.
Obviously the most popular hiking trails are heavily crowded in the summer months. For serious hikers it is not hard to escape the crowds though as most people are not tackling the more strenuous hikes.