Guide To Visiting Yosemite National Park

September 15, 2015 12:00 PM

Yosemite (credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

A trip to Yosemite National Park will immerse you and your family in everything associated with nature and our country’s history. With nearly 1,200 square miles of breathtaking mountainous scenery, this national park has everything you will want to experience during your next family vacation. This area of our country is home to the best of what Mother Nature has to offer, including high cliffs, deep valleys, large open wilderness, ancient giant sequoias and tall waterfalls. Plus, this area takes on a new look every season throughout the year.
Fall

During the fall months – October and November – Yosemite turns into what some would compare to a painting. The vivid colors of the trees turn this national park’s landscape from a variety of green shades to a mix of vibrant yellows, reds, oranges and gold tones. This season does not last long and is quickly followed by winter and snow, causing some short-term closures to a few areas of the park. During this time of year you will want to enjoy camping, hiking, horseback riding and bike riding through the park.

Winter
yosemite winter Guide To Visiting Yosemite National Park

Photo Credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images

Visiting in the winter will give you a whole new look at Yosemite. The high peaks throughout the park become white as the snow falls and covers mountain tops. Waterways become low and start to freeze. Depending upon the amount of snowfall during the time of your visit, you will feel like you have walked right into a winter wonderland. The winter months in Yosemite last from December through March. If you do not mind the cold temperatures, this is the time to visit if you do not want to share the park with heavy crowds. Activities during the winter include skiing, hiking, snowboarding and ice skating.

Related: The 5 Best Skiing and Snowboarding Getaways for NY, NJ and Conn. Families

Spring

The spring is a beautiful time of year to visit Yosemite, especially during the months of April and May. This is the time of year when the water starts to thaw and the waterfalls take on a new life. Depending upon the temperatures, wild flowers start to bloom and the landscape once again starts turning green. Popular activities in the spring include hiking, camping, boating, water sports, bike riding and horseback riding.

yosemite nation Guide To Visiting Yosemite National Park

Photo Credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images


Summer

The summer months last between June and September here in Yosemite and it is a time when just about everything throughout the park is open and accessible. With the warmer temperatures, visitors find themselves spending a lot of time in the water, boating, skiing, swimming and relaxing. Though the snow has completely melted by this time, the waterfalls are still flowing and add to the breathtaking views you will have while visiting. This is one of the best times of the year to pack up the RV and head to the park for an extended family vacation.

Lodging

There are many lodging options throughout the Yosemite National Park area, including on-site tent and RV camping. The park has 13 campgrounds you can stay at throughout the year. Only a few of the campgrounds offer advance reservations, while most are available on a first-come, first-served basis. During the spring and summer months, it is difficult to find a reservation or a site within one of these campgrounds. That is why it is important to either arrive early, before the busy season starts, or make your reservations at least a year in advance.

Ten of these campgrounds offer services for those visiting in an RV. RVs must be parked in a designated camping spot and are not allowed to park overnight in the parking lots or along the roadside. Electrical, water and sewer hook-ups are not available, but there are dump stations located in the park.

Yosemite Lakes Camping Resort offers a camping option for those not wanting to pitch a tent or stay in an RV. You can experience the luxury of having all of your necessities in your own space while still being in the middle of all of the camping action.

If camping is not your thing, there are some charming cabins, hotels and bed and breakfasts close to Yosemite. Top accommodation options located near Yosemite include:

Related: Best Camping Sites Near San Francisco

Dining

There are numerous restaurants located within the Yosemite Valley, some of which operate only seasonally. Plus, there are several picnic areas located throughout the park, including covered pavilions, picnic benches and open spaces to lay down a blanket.

Sit-down dining options within Yosemite include:

yosemite hiking Guide To Visiting Yosemite National Park

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Things To Do

Yosemite National Park has a variety of activities you can enjoy year round, including hiking, biking, snow skiing, bird watching, backpacking, fishing, horseback riding, boating and camping. There are several must-see sites throughout the park that need to be included in your Yosemite vacation itinerary. Let’s take a look at a few of those must-see sights in the park:

  • Badger Pass
  • Clothespin Tree
  • Glacier Point
  • Hetch Hetchy Valley
  • Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
  • Pioneer Yosemite History Center
  • Tunnel View
  • Historic Wawona
  • Tuolumne Meadows
  • Yosemite Valley and Falls

Yosemite National Park never closes. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 day a year. This is what makes it possible to explore the park no matter what time of day or year it is, giving you different experiences every time you visit.

Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.