A gem in the heart of California, a world dominated by granite cliffs, a wild paradise full of biological diversity, and undoubtedly one of the best World Heritage Sites of USA, Yosemite National Park is nothing less than a mecca for adventure buffs. A heavenly amalgamation of cascading waterfalls, shimmering lakes and streams, majestic mountains, and humongous groves of sequoia, this pocket-friendly guide will lead you right to the heart of Yosemite National Park.
About Yosemite National Park
State: California, USA
Location: Yosemite Mariposa County, Northern California
Area: 747,956 acres
Distance From City Centre: Approximately 230 kms
Spread Across: Mariposa, Madera, and Tuolumne counties
Established In: 1890
Average Footfall: 4 million annually
Must-Visit: Granite Cliffs
Famous For: Extreme Adventures
Yosemite National Park Map
Best Time To Visit Yosemite National Park
Though the best time to visit Yosemite National Park is that of the fall season, Yosemite National Park’s weather in every season has something special to offer when it comes to visiting this adventurous marvel.
Spring: The months from March to June happen to be the perfect time to witness the cascading waterfalls in their best form. Also, it is the most suitable season to relish the best of Yosemite Valley and all the fishing spots in the national park.
Summer: Though it may not be the best time, but spanning from the months June end to mid-September, summer happens to be the most popular time amidst the kids, youth, and families. Right from trekking to picnic spots, music festivals to outdoor activities, all of it can be best enjoyed during summers in Yosemite National Park.
Fall: Spanning from the months of September-end to mid-December, Fall happens to be the best time to visit Yosemite National Park as the temperatures are low, trails are in perfect condition for exploration, and the crowd is considerably less.
Winter: From the beginning of December-end to February, winter is the most favorite time for the locals and the travelers for two reasons. One is that of Christmas, and secondly, one gets to experience an enthralling sleigh ride in the Yosemite National Park like nowhere else.
With so much to see and experience within the Yosemite borders, an ideal duration of 3 to 4 days should be enough to capture the true essence of the national park. From the granite cliffs to the waterfalls and activities, a maximum of 4 days should suffice for a lifetime of memories.
Top Attractions In Yosemite National Park
1. Yosemite Valley
One of the best attractions and much rewarded as the centerpiece of the entire Yosemite National Park, the Yosemite Valley offers a sight to behold, forever. Stretching upto 12 kilometers in length, and more than 3000 ft. in depth, the valley is filled with pine forests, magical waterfalls, countless streams, and is surrounded by gigantic mountains of El Capitan and Half Dome. With such marvels to be witnessed, the Yosemite Valley is one of the key highlights of the national park.
2. Yosemite Falls
Looking royal and mighty in appearance, the cascading Yosemite Falls measures about 739 meters in height right from the top to the base of the falls. Comprising of the Upper Yosemite, Middle Cascades, and the Lower Yosemite Falls, it happens to be one of the major attractions of the national park which is easily accessible from the Yosemite Lodge.
3. Glacier Point
A majestic viewpoint in the heart of Yosemite National Park, no other viewpoints within the premises have been able to surpass the aura of the one and only, Glacier Point. Rising up to an height of 7,214 ft., which is about 3200 ft higher and above the Half Dome Village, it is a strict no-no for all the adventure enthusiasts to miss out on this one.
4. Tunnel View
Much famed to be the vantage point for the locals, travelers, artists, and ardent photographers, the Tunnel View offers breathtaking views of the Yosemite Valley like no other viewpoint. While the Glacier Point offers mesmeric skyline views of the national park, the Tunnel View offers panoramic vistas from the state route numbered 41.
5. Vernal Fall
Get ready to get drenched while you trek from the Mist Trail to the mighty Vernal Fall. Get closer to nature at this mystical wonder and witness the falls from a height of about 317 ft. Considered to be one of the most widest, and picturesque falls of Yosemite, make sure you don’t miss out on the Vernal Fall hike on your visit to this wonderland.
Other Attractions In Yosemite: Mariposa Grove, Bridalveil Falls, Nevada Falls, Taft Point, Horsetail Fall, and more.
Top Things To Do In Yosemite National Park
1. Trek All The Way Up To Half Dome
Ever dreamt of witnessing a larger-than-life scenario? If your answer is a no, then you’re about to witness one right away. Elevating up to a height of 8,842 ft., this strenuous trek to Half Dome will take you a minimum of 14 hours and a maximum of 16 hours to complete. So those who are willing to sweat it out, make sure you get all the permits prior to the hike, and are fit enough to embark on this fantastic trekking experience in Yosemite National Park.
Mist Trail: 23 kms approx. for a round trip
John Muir Trail: 26.5 kms approx. for a round trip
Glacier Point: 32 kms approx. for a round trip
Tenaya Lake: 37 kms approx. for a round trip
Campground Of Little Yosemite Valley: 11 kms approx. for a round trip
2. Rock Climbing At El Capitan
An unforgiving peak as it is popularly known, El Capitan is the captain of all the mountain peaks in Yosemite National Park which offers a challenge of the most difficult rock-climbing in the world. A dangerous straight cliff stretching up to an ascent of 3000 ft., it takes about four to five days for a normal rock climber to make it to the top of El Capitan. Also, there has only been one man named Alex Honnold who’s by far the only climber to have successfully free soloed the El Capitan wall without any safety gear. Don’t believe us? Google him right away!
Location: Western end of Yosemite National Park
Elevation: 3,000 ft. from the base
Rock-Types: Coarse-grained Granite, the Taft Granite, and Diorite
3. Hike The John Muir Trail
A nerve-racking hiking experience which spans to almost 20 days, the John Muir Trail or JMT is the longest hiking trail that passes through Yosemite National Park but is located in the mountain ranges of Sierra Nevada. Taking you through the dense forests, wilderness, and natural wonders for almost 80 percent of the hike, it is recommended to all the travelers to go for a guided tour while hiking the JMT.
Starting Point: Cottonwood Lakes
Ending Point: Mount Whitney
Continuation: Till Tuolumne In Yosemite
Distance Covered: 211 miles or 340 kilometers
Elevation: 47,000 ft.
Duration: 15 to 21 days
4. Skiing And Snowboarding At Tioga Pass
Considered to be one of the best places for skiing in the entire USA, Tioga Pass puts up tonnes of snow on display for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. Serving as yet another entrance to Yosemite National Park from the end of Easter Sierra Mountains, Tioga Pass is a must-visit place for those who plan on exploring Yosemite during spring or summers.
Tip: You can drive up till Ellery Lake, and then continue for skiing or snowboarding.
5. Rafting At Tuolumne River
Image Credit:Rafting At Tuolumne River officiak website
Tuolumne River owes much of its popularity for river rafting to the steep drops, and large boulders, that create high rapids in the river. Right from the point of Ward’s Ferry bridge up till the Meral’s Pool, the Tuolumne river elevates up to 760 ft. in height, which is also its drop measure. However, rafting at Tuolumne is enjoyed the best at the locations of Nemesis, and Rock Garden.
Location: Near Highway 140
Length: 18 miles or 29 kilometers approx.
Distance From Yosemite: 30 minutes
Other Things To Do In Yosemite: Sunset at Tuolumne Meadows, Horseback Riding, Exploring Museums, Tasting & Breweries, Spa & Wellness, and more.
Best Accommodation At Yosemite National Park
1. The Majestic Yosemite Hotel
Image Credit:The Majestic Yosemite Hotel
For those who’re for best Yosemite National Park lodging options, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel serves as the perfect choice for them. Located at a distance of about 2.5 kilometers from the Yosemite Village, this hotel treats the travelers to views of Glacier Point, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls, which are true to its name, majestic.
2. The Mariposa Lodge
Located at a distance of just 5 minutes from the California State Mining, the Mariposa Lodge offers affordable lodging options near Yosemite National Park. Featuring an outdoor pool along with a patio and a hot tub, this hotel too offers striking views of the natural environs.
3. White Wolf Lodge
Away from the hustle and bustle of California, the White Wolf Lodge is popular amidst the travelers as well as the locals for its remote and a calm location. Offering all the peace, and quiet that one requires on their vacation, White Wolf Lodge adds the much needed charm to your adventure in Yosemite National Park.
Other Hotels, Cabins, Inns, & Motels: Yosemite Inn, Yosemite Cedar Lodge, Yosemite View Lodge, River Rock Inn, Yosemite Westgate Lodge, Comfort Inn, and many more.
Where To Eat At Yosemite National Park
1. Jackalope’s Bar & Grill
A perfect place for relaxed evening, you can just sit back, relax your senses, and relish the best of American cuisine at Jackalope’s Bar & Grill. From grilled burgers to specialty salads, enjoy the best of organic produce at this restaurant.
Location: Tenaya Lodge, 1122 CA-41, Fish Camp, Yosemite, California
Timings: Sunday to Thursday: 11 am to 11 pm; Fridays & Saturdays: 11 am until midnight
TripAdvisor Ratings: 3.5/5 | Reviews | Website
2. Sierra Restaurant
Love the combination of pasta and beer? Then no other restaurant can serve you the best of this combo other than Sierra Restaurant at Yosemite National Park. Bringing the best of seafood, and steak, this restaurant also serves the best breakfast menu along with selected wines.
3. Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza
How To Reach Yosemite
Established in three prime locations of Cathey’s Valley, Midpines, and Mariposa, Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza is the best place for those crave for freshly made pizzas anytime, and anywhere. Using the best-in-quality meat products, and fresh vegetables in all their cooking, Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza is the best place to eat during your visit to Yosemite National Park.
By Bus: Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System which is abbreviated as YARTS offers regular bus services from the city center to Yosemite National Park.
By Air: Merced Airport (MCE) in California is the nearest airport from which, Yosemite National Park is located at a distance of just 2 hours.
By Train: One can also board the AMTRAK trains from Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Fresno, Sacramento, and San Francisco, and deboard at the Merced or Riverbank station from where one can reach Yosemite via YARTS bus services.
By Car: One can easily rent a car and reach Yosemite National Park wherein a minimum of $30 in summers, and $25 in winters is charged for entry and parking facilities.
Directions To Yosemite National Park From California
Directions To Yosemite National Park From Sacramento
Directions To Yosemite National Park From San Francisco
Frequently Asked Questions About Yosemite National Park
Q. How much is the entry fee to Yosemite National Park?
A. Yosemite national park entrance fee is $30 per vehicle from April to October, and $25 from November to March for a pass which is valid only for seven days. An annual pass can also be purchased for $60.
Q. When does Yosemite National Park close?
A. Yosemite National Park is open round the year and in all seasons.
Q. Which is the nearest airport to Yosemite?
A. Merced Regional Airport is the nearest airstrip to Yosemite National Park.
Excited to go to Yosemite? Well, you’re not alone in feeling that way! With such incredible attractions, and natural marvels to be explored, Yosemite National Park is indeed a majestic getaway in the heart of California. And on your visit to this incredible hub of adventurers, make sure you keep this guide handy for a hassle-free experience. So, Want to plan your California trip?
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