Your guide to Yosemite National Park
Updated: Feb 25
Yosemite National Park is one of the most breathtaking places on Earth - it's home to the largest waterfall in North America and a mountain that looks like its been cut in half. It's a mecca for photographers, hiking lovers and the world centre of rock climbing.
4 million people visited Yosemite in 2018 and all of them can find solitude. Yosemite is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of big cities - it's a hub for intense adventures, climbing, skiing, backpacking and camping. The best part is that there is no bad time of year to visit: spring and summer will treat you with jaw-dropping waterfalls and cross-country skiing in the winter.
Yosemite's climate, surprisingly, is quite mild. Nights are almost away cool/cold and months of April through October feature warm daytime temps. Weather is affected by elevation and it will be cooler in the shade of big rocks. June to September is the best time to visit Yosemite weather-wise, you will get lowest humidity, almost no chance of rain and more sun.
One option is reserving campsites. Campground reservations become available in one-month blocks up to 5 months in advance. Camping in Yosemite itself is great if you have an activity planned the next morning and want to get an early start to your day. You will also get access to facilities like garbage and toilets.
Another option is camping in National Forest land adjacent to Yosemite - our personal favourite. There are 3 National Forests close by: Inyo National Forest, Sierra National Forest and Stanislaus National Forest. The coolest part? No reservations needed! Make sure your map confirms you are within the range of the national forest and camp wherever. You can even make campfire - just be sure to obtain the campfire permit here http://permit.preventwildfiresca.org. As always, be sure to leave the camp spot better than you found it and use a shovel when nature calls!
When you book a fully-equipped adventure vehicle with us, we provide a route with GPS coordinates to make finding camp spots seamless. We spend all of our free time looking for new spots with jaw-dropping views so you don't have to.
Need a shower? In Yosemite Valley, there are showers at Curry Village (open all year) and at Housekeeping camping (closed in winter). There is a fee for all showers.
Points of Interest
We recommend at least 2-3 days to explore Yosemite. The park is SO large and so studded with fascinating features, that spending only a day there won't do it justice. Park the car at Camp 6 near Yosemite Village and take a free Yosemite Valley shuttle bus. Shuttle buses stop at practically every point of interest and they are the only way to get to some places where the car traffic is prohibited. Start at the Valley Visitor Centre, grab a map and your Yosemite adventure officially begins!
Lower Yosemite Fall Happy Isles Mirror Lake Bridalveil Fall Tunnel View Glacier Point (accessibly by car) Maripose Grove of Big Trees Tuolomne Meadows and Tioga Road
Yosemite National Park History
Native Americans were the long-term residents of the Valley - European Americans did not enter until 1851 and did not occupy it until 1860s. Fascinating fact: the concept of national parks was born here in Yosemite and the park still serves as a model and symbol for the entire world in pioneering conservation efforts.
People resided in the Yosemite region for almost 8,000 years before Spain occupied California. Yosemite's Native Americans spent fall and winter in the valley or the warmer foothills, then roamed the high country in spring and summer in the quest of food. During their hundreds of years of life in Yosemite Valley, the native people were remarkably gentle in their use of land. The staple of the Native American diet in Yosemite and much of the rest of California was acorn, which was prepared and eaten as mush. Mushrooms, as well as clover, bulbs and other plant foods were eaten in abundance. Fish and game included deer, squirrels, trout.
The first Europeans that native Californians came into contact were Spanish missionaries, soldiers, and settlers in the 18th century.
10 Best views from Above
Glacier Point - Not only does the point provide an overwhelming panorama (trust us on this one!), it's accessible by car! North Dome - This spot allows the best view there is Half Dome and Tenaya Canyon. It can be reached only by foot and all hiking routes are very strenuous. Eagle Peak - This lookout is the highest rock of the Three Brothers formation and the peak offers impressive views of the entire Yosemite region. Sentinel Dome - Make the one-mile walk from the Glacier Point Road and discover a 360-degree vista of spectacular Yosemite views. Tunnel View - More photos are shot at this location for a good reason: El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall can all be seen from here. Half Dome - The only drawback is that the view doesn't include Half Dome itself! Something truly seems missing from the landscape when you're sitting on top of this enormous rock that has come to symbolize Yosemite. The 8.5 mile hike from Happy Isle is difficult but possible. Yosemite Point - This point is famous for its proximity to the Lost Arrow Spire, a really cool freestanding shaft of granite. Taft Point and the Fissures - Looking for the best echo in Yosemite? You'll find it here.
Text us at 510-906-7446 to plan your Yosemite adventure!