The 1,200 square miles of Yosemite National Park, located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains is a paradise for nature loving tourists and visitors throughout the year. While you are in Yosemite you can enjoy hiking, marvelling at the spectacular scenery, horse riding, rock climbing and even rafting on Merced River; and during the colder winter months you can snowboard or go skiing!
The park is made up of some of the most majestic scenery in the world and has been protected by conservationists since the late 19th Century. The park has everything from dense woodlands to craggy rock faces including the famous Half Dome and El Capitan, stunning waterfalls and an incredible abundance of wildlife.
As one of the oldest national parks in the world, Yoesmite has been leading the way in ecotourism for decades and the charming Yosemite Village has a lovely plethora of shops, restaurants, accommodation, the Yosemite Museum and the Ansel Adams Gallery – a shrine to one of America’s best loved conservationists and landscape photographers.
Nearly 4 million people visit the park each year however because it’s so enormous you’ll hardly notice the other tourists as you explore the pristine landscapes and try your hand at any number of fun activities. However, it’s not all about the activities which are available because the incredible tranquility of the High Sierra is said to be medicine for the soul!
Yosemite is the ideal holiday spot for families, couples looking for a unique getaway as well as solo travellers who are looking to test themselves in the wilds of the park!
How Do You Get To Yosemite National Park?
Despite its remote far away feeling the Yosemite National Park is surprisingly easy to get to! The nearest airport to the national park is the modern San Francisco International Airport which has superb transport links to the rest of the world – so no matter where you’re travelling from you can fly into there.
Once at the airport it’s only a short 1 & 1/2 hour drive to the national park, where you can find an excellent selection of accommodation and lodges to stay in.
From the airport you can catch a bus or hire a private taxi to take you and your family to the park. Alternatively, you can rent a car in the airport and then return it at the end of your vacation.
Driving up to the park will give you a serious dose of sightseeing before you arrive and settle down for an unforgettable holiday in the world’s most famous national park and area of exquisite natural beauty.
When is the Best Time to Visit Yosemite National Park?
Each season has its own unique charms in the wonderful national park! Consequently, no matter what time of year you visit the park you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of the natural world at its very finest.
During the summer months the temperatures are perfect for hiking, rock climbing and camping; whereas in the winter you can ski, snowboard and experience the park while it’s draped in beautiful snow cover. However, you should be aware that if you visit during the winter then many of the trails and paths are closed due to safety issues and the danger of avalanches so you won’t be able to explore the park as extensively as during other times of the year.
The best time to visit the park is between May and September when you can access all areas of the park and it’s not too busy with the summer high season rush of tourists.
What Is There To Do in Yosemite National Park?
There’s so much to do in Yosemite National Park, from superb hiking and biking trails, camping in designated areas, top quality world class hotels and incredible restaurants where you can savour the tastes of excellent cuisine to suit every palate and budget.
You will need to apply for a permit to take part in some of the most exciting activities in the park including climbing the infamous Half Dome and overnight hiking. The permits are required so that the park management services can ensure that the delicate ecosystem of the park is protected for future generations.
Camping in Yosemite National Park.
No trip to the epic national park would be complete without a stint of camping so you can experience the wilderness and enjoy the sounds of dawn chorus as the sun rises. You will be required to reserve your place in the camp groups in advance to secure your space.
Hiking and Trail Walking.
The Yosemite National Park is criss-crossed with hiking trails that are suitable for all ages, abilities and experience. This means that whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a newbie on the trail you’ll be able to find the perfect route for your requirements that will take you through the stunning landscape full of superb photo opportunities.
Climb the Famous Half Dome.
From the peak of the Half Dome you get incredible panoramic views of the park however in order to protect the natural beauty and to reduce overcrowding you will need to apply for a permit in advance. Permits are handed out through a lottery system and limit the number of people climbing the Half Dome to around 300 people per day. Even if you don’t get a permit to climb to the peak you can still hike to the base of the Dome which is a wonderful day trip for groups and families alike.
If you are planning to camp out overnight near the Half Dome then you should apply for your permit through the ‘wilderness permit’ which gives you permission to spend the night in the wild!
Mariposa Art and Wine Festival.
This delightful cultural event takes place in May and combines the best of art, wine, great food and the incredible scenery that makes the perfect backdrop to the proceedings. The warm early summer days and fantastic selection of art makes this one of the most popular annual events in the park. The atmosphere is super friendly and you’ll be welcomed by fellow culture vultures and during the evening you can relax while listening to live jazz bands.
While you’re in the park why not try your hand at river rafting? The Merced River is the perfect place to have a go and with several great outfitters and a multitude of places along the river to choose to raft from you’ll be able to find a trip that fits your itinerary.
Rafting is only available during the spring and the early summer months so if you want to get out on the water remember to factor this into your planning. During the early spring months, as the snow is melting, the river is higher and runs much faster – making it a Level 4 run, whereas later in the season it runs a lot slower and is rated a Level 2 run – ideal for first timers and families.