What to Know Before You Visit Yosemite National Park
A visit to Yosemite National Park is an unforgettable experience. Here’s what you need to know, from where to stay to what to do, to plan a trip of a life time.
People from all over the world come to visit Yosemite National Park for its 1169 square miles of beautiful nature and 800 miles of trails.
Just in 2017, the park had over 4.3 million visitors.
With so much to see and do, it is important to plan ahead. Keep reading to learn more about when to visit, where to stay, and things to do while in Yosemite.
When to Visit Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is open year round so deciding the best time to visit can be hard. Each season has its pros and cons.
April and May are the best months to see the waterfalls as this is when most of the snowmelt occurs. The most well-known waterfall, Yosemite Falls, peaks in May.
Roads to Yosemite Valley and Wawona are accessible by car is, however, the Tioga and Glacier Point Roads are usually closed until the end of May due to snow.
Expect lots of sun and mild temperatures though the weather is variable so pack accordingly.
June to September is the peak travel season which inevitably means more crowds. Arrive early to avoid delays at the entrance and congestion at the more popular areas.
All areas of the park are accessible by car by this time.
The weather can range from warm to hot with occasional rain, so pack a poncho.
It may also be hazy or smoky due to fires in the park or in other parts of California.
Pro tip: Also pack bug repellent and plenty of sunscreen- the sun is more intense at higher elevations.
The number of people who visit Yosemite National Park decrease during the fall months, making October and November my favorite times to explore.
The falls have usually dried up by the end of summer but there are many other sights to see.
Though the trees are mostly evergreens, some deciduous trees in the park are showing color by this time – giving off the perfect fall feel!
It can get chilly at night so it is always smart to layer clothing and bring a jacket.
From December to March, many areas are off limits to cars because of snow conditions.
However, the Glacier Point/Badger Pass Road is plowed to the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area for visitors to enjoy downhill and cross-country skiing.
Where to Stay
Whether making a day trip to the park or planning for a longer trip, staying in a cozy cabin enhances the nature experience.
Fun Cabin Rentals in Twain Harte, CA offers a four bedroom, two bath cabin that sleeps up to 10. If visiting with a group of people and splitting the cost, it’s usually cheaper than hotels in the area.
Blankets and pillows are supplied but guests must bring their own sheets, pillowcases, towels, and the like. The kitchen is stocked with utensils, silverware, and plates, as well as a toaster and coffee pot.
There is a deck with a charcoal barbecue to enjoy in the summertime and a wood fireplace to spark up in the winter.
They are open year round, making it easier to plan a trip to visit Yosemite National Park during any season.
The Day of the Visit
Once you decide when to visit and where to stay, here are a few things to be aware of before you begin to explore the park.
Fill up! There’s one gas station before Yosemite and none in the park.
There are, however, electric charging stations available for visitors in the park for visitors. One station is located in the Majestic Yosemite Hotel Parking lot which accommodates two vehicles, including Tesla. There is an additional charging station in the Village Store parking lot.
Parking can be a bit of a hassle, especially on busy days. A select number of spots can be reserved ahead of time at recreation.gov. Parking lots are available at most trailheads with complimentary shuttle buses that stop throughout Yosemite Valley.
Beware of Bears and Other Wildlife
Yosemite is home to hundreds of black bears. Food storage is very important to keep the bears away.
Bears and other wildlife are naturally afraid of humans and it is best to keep it that way by scaring them off if ever approached.
Also, obey speed limits to avoid hitting animals that may wander into the road.
What to See When You Visit Yosemite National Park
For a great sight, plan to arrive early and watch the sunrise at Tunnel View. Tunnel View is located outside of the Wawona Tunnel on Highway 41.
El Capitan can be seen from Tunnel View, though the famous rock formation can best be seen from the roads in western Yosemite Valley.
The landmark many people who visit Yosemite National Park specifically for – the Half Dome can be throughout most of the eastern Yosemite Valley.
One of the most photographed points in Yosemite, Glacier Point is gorgeous during sunset. It sits above Half Dome village and during sunset, the Half Dome is painted the colors of the sky.
Mariposa Grove and the Grizzly Giant
Mariposa Grove is home to the family of giant Sequoia trees, including the Grizzly Giant.
This part of the park is closed until June 15, 2018, for restoration. When it reopens the area will then include consolidated parking, an information station, and additional trails.
The Mist Trail is Yosemite’s signature trail. It is an easy to moderate hike. There are great views all along the hike, ending with the view of Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap and the back of the Half Dome.
The Sentinel Dome trail is 1.1 miles (2.2 miles roundtrip) and provides 360? views of the valley. It is also an easy to moderate hike.
For experienced hikers, the Yosemite Falls trail is a steep hike that offers close up views of Upper Yosemite Fall.
Some experienced hikers even hike up the Half Dome. This trail requires a permit to travel.
Pro tip: Bring paper maps, as GPS is not as reliable in the park. It is also helpful to plan routes ahead of time.
A visit to Yosemite National Park is a trip of a lifetime.
While planning your trip, don’t forget to contact Fun Cabin Rentals for more information about renting their cabin for any season.
Once you visit, let us know all about your favorite spots in the park and any other travel tips!