Yosemite National Park, symbolic of its diversity, is part of four counties – Tuolumne and Mariposa in its central part, Mono to the north and east, and Madera County in the south. Granite cliffs, views, waterfalls, lakes, and rivers enthrall millions of visitors annually.
There is so much to experience that many visitors return to Yosemite National Park yearly. Sadly, parts have had to be closed in 2022 to allow for repairs to the infrastructure. Still, there is a multitude of experiences and sights that make a trip to this historic park unforgettable.
Location: There is no physical address for Yosemite. Mariposa is the nearest city, 33.18 miles away.
Address: The postal address is P.O. Box 577, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Entrance Fee: There is no entry fee for disabled visitors, members of the US military and their families, and people 15 years and younger. Other visitors expect to pay around $20 per person, depending on the group size. Until September 30, 2022, all visitors to the park during peak hours (6 am to 4 pm) will be required to make reservations.
Getting there: A road trip from San Francisco takes about four hours with entry through one of the four entrances on the west side of the park: Hetchy Hetchy, Big Oak Flat, Arch Rock, and South. Tioga Pass Entrance is the only entrance on the park’s east side.
How Long To Stay: At least four days. For those with limited time, one- and two-day itineraries are drawn up to tailor your visit to the available time.
Best Time of Year: Best weather: May – November
Fewer crowds: March/ April and September
Is It Worth Visiting Yosemite National Park?
Between four- and five million people visit Yosemite National Park every year. It attracts visitors from all over the country and the world to view the giant sequoias, the famous Yosemite Valley, the views from Glacier Point, the beauty of Bridal Veil Fall, and Yosemite Lake.
Yosemite is worth putting high on your bucket list, but you might find it better if you visit in the “shoulder” periods of spring and fall to avoid the summer crowds.
Yosemite National Park Facts
Age: Yosemite National Park came into existence in 1890.
Size: 1187 square miles, equivalent to 759,620 acres.
Named After: Yosemite was the name given to the local Indian tribe by the Miwok Indians who lived in the surrounding areas and means “those who kill.”
Weather: Yosemite National Park experiences dramatic seasonal changes, with over ninety-five percent of its rainfall between October and May.
- Spring (Specifically April to May) is when the snow melts, rivers flow, and spectacular waterfalls. Mild temperatures in the mid-sixties and seventies, with rainfall decreasing in May, make this an enjoyable time to visit the park.
- Summer (June – September) is when temperatures reach the eighties and nineties. The snow has melted, and hiking is at its best. Little rain falls during this period.
- Fall (October – November) is when the crowds diminish, temperatures moderate, and it’s a good season for visitors to enjoy the beautiful fall colors in the valley. Snowfalls may bring road closures and the end to certain activities from mid-October.
- Winter (December – March) is when Yosemite is blanketed in snow, but the park still offers many attractions.
What To Do In Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is open all year, and there is no shortage of things to do and exciting places to visit. No one, irrespective of age, can complain of being bored.
● Visit the many waterfalls
● Check out the magnificent viewpoints
● Hike or bike the varied trails or cross-country ski in winter
●Visit Museums and Historical Sites
Yosemite National Park Is World Famous For Its Waterfalls
Most spectacular in early spring, as rivers receive the runoff from winter snow, there are over twenty falls in Yosemite. Easy walks can reach most; others are less accessible.
Highlight: Yosemite Falls is the highest in the park, spectacularly falling 2,425 feet in three separate falls.
Viewpoints Which Showcase Yosemite
The magnificent scenery can be viewed from many viewpoints, including the Tunnel View and Glacier Point sites. (Note: Access to Glacier Point has been closed off for the remainder of 2022).
While not all are open all year round, Olmsted Point, O’Shaugnessy Dam, and El Portal View are other viewpoints for your bucket list.
Highlight: Tunnel View provides what is probably the most famous view of Yosemite Valley.
Hiking, Biking, Or Cross-Country Skiing
There are over eight hundred miles of trails in Yosemite National Park, many of them suitable for hiking all year round. In winter, cross-country skiing is very popular, with views of white landscapes and snow-capped peaks.
Highlight: We recommend the Mist Trail, close to the beautiful Vernal and Nevada Falls.
Explore The History of Yosemite National Park
Over one hundred and fifty years of history is reflected in the museums and historic buildings open to the public. Parsons Memorial Lodge, Yosemite Museum, Indian Village, and Mariposa Grove Museum give a fascinating insight into the past.
Highlight: The Yosemite Museum provides the most comprehensive history, with a rare collection of Indian artifacts.
How To Spend A Day In Yosemite National Park
The challenge is not how to fill a day but what not to do when you only have a day in Yosemite National Park.
- Breakfast is essential with a busy schedule, so a wholesome meal at Wawona Hotel Dining Room is an excellent way to start the day.
- Ensure you have sufficient water and good hiking boots, and get out there. If you loop around the lake, the Mirror Lake Trail is five miles of easy hiking, or you can do the Mist Trail if you are fit enough for a five-hour hike.
A visit to Yosemite National Park is not complete unless you’ve taken in the views from Glacier Point, Tunnel View, or one of the many outlooks accessible by car, bus, or shuttle.
By mid-afternoon, you can walk through Mariposa Grove to see giant sequoias, including Fallen Monarch, which died hundreds of years ago, and Grizzly Giant estimated to be 1,800 years old.
Finally, an hour in Yosemite Museum to discover the area’s history.
Attend an evening presentation, free of charge, at Yosemite Valley Lodge. Or, on winter nights, you can join a fireside gathering for a one-hour storytelling at the Ahwahnee Great Lounge.
When Is Yosemite National Park Open?
Yosemite National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- Hetchy Hetchy only opens during daylight hours.
- Some roads may be closed due to snowfalls from November through May.
Can You Drive To Yosemite National Park?
Driving to Yosemite is an experience on its own, on scenic routes passing through historic villages and making the road trip part of the vacation.
- From San Francisco or Sacramento, take Highway 120 through Groveland to the Big Oak Flat entrance.
- Highway 120 also leads you through the town of Lee Vining to the Tioga Pass and the Tioga Road entrance – a dramatic, scenic route challenging if you’re driving an R.V.
- Highway 140 is the easiest route, through Mariposa to the Arch Rock entrance.
- Highway 41, if you’re coming from Fresno, will take you through Oakhurst to South entrance.
- Evergreen Road will take you north to Hetchy Hetchy, which is only open during the day.
Where To Stay In Yosemite National Park
There appears to be no lodging accommodation available in Yosemite National Park itself.
There are several hotels, mainly three- and four-star and, in a few cases, pet-friendly. Top-rated hotels include:
- Yosemite Valley Lodge
- The Ahwahnee
- Wawona Hotel
Confirmed reservations are essential before entering the park. Top sites include:
- Yosemite Creek
- White Wolf
Several sites were closed in 2022 and will reopen in 2023.
Yosemite National Park FAQ
What Are The Dangers In Yosemite National Park?
Of the twelve to fifteen deaths that occur yearly, only half are accident-related. Several deaths have resulted from falls and conditions related to dehydration. There have been no reported deaths from animal attacks, although the black bear, coyote, and mountain lions live in the park.
Can You Drive Through Yosemite National Park?
From May to September 2022, a reservation is essential before driving through the park. Before this, and hopefully, in the future, no reservation was required if you drove through the park and didn’t stay – recorded times of entry and exit confirmed this.
Where Do You Fly Into For Yosemite National Park?
Yosemite National Park is about three hours from Sacramento Airport to the Big Oak Flat Entrance. The closest airport is Mammoth Lakes, 42.1 miles from the park. A car trip takes 1 hour 20 minutes, but it is possible to take one of the regular buses from nearby Shiloh Inn to the park.