Is there a best time to visit Yosemite National Park? The answer to that question depends on what you want to do. Be ready to hike, gaze and wonder.
Summertime has been long known for being the most popular time to vacation. School is out for 10 weeks, the mood at work can be a little more relaxed and adventure seems to beckon from every corner.
Every year, you and the family try to do something a little different than the one before. You typically either do a week at the theme parks or the beach and while you appreciate the getaway in any form, you want something different that your family hasn’t done before.
The National Parks across the country have been doing a big promotion to entice visitors to choose nature over cartoon characters. If you would like to do some more exploring, then a back to nature theme would definitely shake things up.
Also, if you decide you want to go check out Yosemite National Park because you vaguely remember your grandparents taking you there as a child. You just don’t know when the best time to visit Yosemite during the summer will be.
What are the best sites to put on your must-see list? You want to make sure your family is prepared and as psyched up for the adventure as you are.
How We Came Up With This List For The Best Time To Visit Yosemite
Yosemite is one of the largest national parks in the United States and trying to find the best sites to see can prove to be time-consuming and challenging. That’s why we’ve taken the time to put together the highlights you should be prepared to hit once you get there.
Furthermore, we know that your time is valuable. And when it comes to planning a trip with the family, stress can sometimes get in the way. We hope that this list can help take away some of the pressure you feel and allow you to unplug and unwind in one of the most beautiful parks in the country.
The 5 Must-See Sights in Yosemite
We’ll get right down to business. Glacier Point has to be at the top of your list. It gives you and your family the best view of all the other points of interest you are going to want to check out including the Yosemite Valley, Clouds Rest, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, just to name a few.
Yes, in the summer, Glacier Point is fully accessed by Glacier Point Road. Furthermore, you can also opt to hike Four Mile Trail which is a moderate to a strenuous climb. Therefore, you may not want to take this route with small children.
During the summer, the trails leading up to Glacier point are packed with tourists. Try to head up on a Wednesday or plan a bus ride. Accordingly, the bus tour will take about four hours depending on the other stops they make.
Yosemite Valley is the staging point for all other areas in Yosemite National Park.
The visitor’s center, camping facilities and the like can be found here. While the activity level is high in this area, don’t forget to stop and take a good look around.
The rock formations that form the walls were all cut by glaciers as they made their way through. This was back before humans ever existed.
Additionally, you can catch a tour bus that will loop you around to various points of interest in the park. Catch a glimpse of Yosemite Falls (if it’s still running) and take in the sites of Dome Rock and other landscape gems.
Furthermore, there are a few hiking trails that loop around the valley, so these are probably a good choice if you are traveling with small children. If you are up for a challenge, some of the hiking trails offer elevation gain and switchbacks.
Tunnel View entrance is probably the way you got into the park, and it is the best way to access this center point.
The entrance to the park can get quite crowded, especially on the weekends. We are warning you about that now. Some of the looping trails can also become more congested at this time. Just be patient and prepared to share the trails.
The most popular waterfall in the park is undoubtedly Yosemite Falls.
Rising up 2,425 feet above the valley floor, the waterfall spews water at its heaviest between May and June. It contains three tiers which can keep the water from spraying out too far.
The longest drop out of the three is the highest one, Upper Yosemite Fall. At 1,430 feet, it is one of the 20 highest waterfalls in the world. The Middle Cascades or second tier is a collection of five smaller drops. They aren’t easily viewed by the public due to their location. The bottom tier or Lower Yosemite Fall is a 320-foot drop. The bottom viewing area closest to Lower Yosemite is the most used area to view the falls
Yes, you can hop a bus that will loop you over to the base of Yosemite Falls. If you want more of an adventure, take the Yosemite Falls Trail and hike your way there. This 2-mile loop makes slight elevation gains, and while it isn’t necessarily recommended for small children, if you take your time, you’ll be able to get them and you there and back safely.
The most popular viewing spot at the base of Yosemite Falls is going to be crowded if the falls are still flowing. Obviously, the view might not be as impressive if there isn’t water pouring out.
If you have been anywhere near Yosemite, chances are you’ve already caught a glimpse or five of Half Dome.
Perched up over 8,000 feet above, the dome appears to have been cut in half. The granite rock that makes up the dome is really just formed in two different shapes. One is a sheer drop straight down and the other is the rounded smooth and dome appearance.
Its distinct shape and looming appearance make it the best-known rock formation in the park. It has been photographed and used thousands of times in print and in movies. Some people claim it is the most notable rock formation in the country.
If you want to try your hand at some serious hiking, you can attempt the Half Dome Hike. Be warned: It is the most strenuous hike in the park. The last portion of the hike attempts an ascent of Half Dome rock itself utilizing installed cables. It is one of the most popular hiking trails in the country for enthusiast hikers and rock climbers. Due to the popularity, the area can get crowded and permits are actually required. We’re guessing with the family you’ll want to pass.
Half Dome is easy to see from various vantage points in the park. Maybe take the family on a casual hike around a loop trail in Yosemite Valley or the like.
If you have been feeling too tall lately, take a stroll through Mariposa Grove in the south end of the park.
That’s because you’ll walk among the giant Sequoias, some of the largest in the world. Mariposa Grove is home to over 500 trees. Which makes it one of the largest natural forests of these beautiful giants in the country. The grove has been restored over the last two years in order to improve the area for the sake of the trees. And for the visitors who make this a must-see stop.
There is a free shuttle from various points around the park. One part of the restoration project is a constant count of the visitors who visit the grove. Therefore, the area may be closed depending on the number of people in it.
Mariposa Grove just reopened in June 2018; therefore, we are going to guess that it’s going to be a common staple for summer vacationers.
If you are traveling to Yosemite with smaller kids. We’ve wanted to make mention of a neat feature the kids might enjoy as well.
Junior Ranger Program
The National Park Service has done a great job of making kids feel like seeing the park is fun and exciting.
If you head to the visitor center, have your child pick up the booklet which points out various activities they should do while in the park. Once these activities are complete, stop back by and see a ranger about getting deputized.
The Best Time to Visit Yosemite
Yosemite National Park is open year-round, and depending on when you decide to go will have a lot to do with what you will see. Since you’re planning a summer getaway, snow and cooler temperatures are out of the equation. Instead, we’ll focus on the things you want to see and the ones you may want to avoid and, of course, the timing of it all.
When is the best time to visit Yosemite? The appropriate response will shift depending on who you talk with, just as what one’s close to home interests are. The next may help tight down a “best” season dependent on calendars, interests, and schedules. Additionally, the National Park Service has assembled a synopsis of regular conditions that might be useful.
The Best Time to Visit Yosemite: A Seasonal Guide
If you’re looking for the best time to visit Yosemite, it is May and September. During these months, the recreation center is open but not overcrowded. It’s important to realize that numerous streets and trails in Yosemite are shut for most of the year because of snow. Snow can come as right on time as of October and lands in full power in November, staying until March. Be that as it may, in light of the fact that the snowstorms stop in March doesn’t really mean shut pieces of the recreation center all of a sudden swing their entryways open. Contingent upon conditions, all occasionally shut streets, and trails don’t open till May or June.
Huge numbers of explorers visit throughout the mid-year months, making it the recreation center’s busiest season (think pressed trails, street traffic, out of this world in rates and that’s only the tip of the iceberg). To keep away from this, the best time to visit is previously or after the mid-year groups come, which is commonly late May and September. Late May and early June is the best time to see cascades, thundering from naturally softened snow, and September offers cooler temperatures perfect for climbing (summer temps can achieve the 80s). On the off chance that the main time you can visit is throughout the late spring, make sure to book a while ahead of time. Campgrounds are known to achieve limit the minute they become accessible for booking. In case you’re searching for a deal on facilities, winter is the best time to visit Yosemite.
May and September
With the roar of the cascades out of sight to muffle the few voices around you, May will enable you to have some an opportunity to welcome the wild in an energetic, yet endurable atmosphere – normal highs go in the mid-60s. Lows, in any case, remain in the mid-30s, so make certain to carry a coat with you. Beside fewer groups and agreeable ish temperatures, May is the best time to visit the recreation center for cascades (because of the dissolved snow). A few streets and trails may, in any case, be shut, so it’s a savvy thought to visit around the month’s end.
Come September, highs hang in the mid-70s while lows are in the mid-40s. This temperature range takes into account a progressively happy with climbing background. Not exclusively will there be fewer individuals on the trails however the sun won’t be as exceptional for what it’s worth throughout the mid-year months. Waterfalls, in any case, won’t be as free-flowing.
The enchantment of Yosemite can without much of a stretch be upset by summer swarms. As a result of occasional street and trail terminations that can go on until May and June, Yosemite sees the greater part of its guests throughout the mid-year. During this time, you can expect swarmed trails and campgrounds just as street traffic and costly lodging rates. You have to book in any event a half year ahead of time to verify facilities during this time; campgrounds have been known to achieve limit only days after they become accessible for the season.
The upside to visiting throughout the late spring, notwithstanding, is that the whole park is open. Daytime temps achieve the low 80s, yet relying upon where you are in Yosemite, for example, revealed valleys, it can feel much more blazing. Evening time temps plunge to the low 40s all through summer, so make a point to bring a coat. To dodge extreme swarming, visit toward the beginning of June when the recreation center’s cascades are strong gratitude to the dissolved snow. On the off chance that you time your visit later in the mid-year, you’ll run over blossoming wildflowers.
Crowds begin to decrease come September when the children are back in school (Yosemite is a famous getaway for families). This enables you to appreciate the recreation center’s excellent landscape in harmony, however, Yosemite will be brisker. Daytime highs change definitely by month, with September encountering mid-70s, October mid-60s and November low-50s. Evening temps drop as well, with normal degrees beginning in the high 40s in September at that point dropping to the low 30s in November. In any case, you likely won’t visit in November in any case. Trail and street terminations normally begin in October or November (contingent upon conditions), leaving the recreation center progressively void gratitude to snow. On the off chance that you do visit in October, know that you won’t see a ton of fall hues; most of the trees in Yosemite are Evergreens.
After September, Yosemite is essentially crowdless. Temperatures drop radically from highs in the mid-70s in September to the mid-60s in October and low 50s in November. Evening time temps plunge as well, with midpoints hanging in the 30-degree go in October and November. Additionally, trail and street terminations commonly begin in October or November because of snow. In the event that you do visit in October, know that you won’t see a ton of fall hues; most of the trees in Yosemite are evergreens.
Winter sports lovers will love the snow-covered park, particularly Yosemite’s Ski and Snowboard Area, where guests can share in downhill and cross country skiing. Daytime temperatures from December to March hang in the mid-40s and evening time temps wait in the low 20s. April sees a slight increment, with lows in the mid-30s and highs in the mid-50s. In any case, besides the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area, most of the recreation center is shut to autos except for the Yosemite Valley and Wawona territories. Tire chains might be expected to access park streets during this time. In case you’re willing to bear the conditions, you will get the best arrangement of facilities during this time. Room rates will be at their most reduced and there will be no groups.
Firstly, the spring thaw really sets the stage for some amazing waterfall sightings.
There are at minimum 10 waterfalls that begin to flow in late spring. That’s because the runoff from all the melting snow in the mountains needs somewhere to go. Furthermore, if you have an interest in checking out any of the falls in Yosemite, you want to plan a June vacation. Most of the waterfalls stop flowing by early July, and by August, they are completely dried up.
Additionally, summer is the busiest time to go anywhere on the planet that is considered a vacation destination, and Yosemite is not immune to this. It is one of the most popular parks for families in the United States, so it stands to reason lots of other people will be taking their kids while they too are on break.
While the park is large and spread out, there are some standard attractions that can get quite congested, especially on the weekends. If you want to make the best of your trip, plan to see the most popular sights during the week. Even better, if you have the opportunity to steer clear of the park on the weekend, do that. While we aren’t saying there won’t be anyone else there, it may just make for a little more elbow room along the hiking trails.
Remember, Yosemite temperatures can get well into the 90’s in the summer, and not all the trails and sights have shade or water on hand. It’s a great idea to bring refillable water bottles so you and the family can make sure you have enough to get you through.
Bring sunscreen and wear hats. The weather in the Yosemite Valley is almost always bright and sunny during the summer.
Stop by the visitor center when you enter the park to get information on seasonal activities. Some areas may be closed due to down trees, water and unfortunately wildfires. It’s a good idea to talk to an experienced ranger too once your inside the park to help you put together a realistic idea of hiking trails and what you should and shouldn’t do with the family.
Other than the waterfalls and the crowds, any time you can visit the park is going to be a good one. Spending the summer hanging out and taking in one of nature’s most beautiful creations is worth it.
The Best Time to Visit Yosemite: FAQs
Spring vs. Fall?
Is it better to visit in the spring or the fall? Walk qualifies as winter in the mountains, with tempests, however, Badger Pass ski region is as yet open and Yosemite Valley available. In April, skiing is done, yet Glacier Point Road/Tioga Roads are as yet shut, and many climbing trails still shrouded in snow. The cascades are there however not colossal. May brings huge cascades and bunches of water, and dogwood trees sprouting directly around Mother’s Day weekend.
Ice sheet Point and Tioga Roads are still typically shut for the season. This can begin changing once again at the incredibly, end of May, however, it is exceptionally climate/winter subordinate. Climbing (without great trail discovering background) is still commonly constrained to the Valley and Hetch Hetchy, as higher height trails are as yet shrouded in snow.
September/October mean exceptionally little cascades and not a lot of cascades. Ends of the week are as yet swarmed however not as terrible as July/August. Generally all pieces of the recreation center are available by vehicle, however, tempests can result in brief terminations, and October is less reliable street shrewd than September. Incredible climbing is normally still accessible all through the vast majority of the recreation center. Stay away from Labor Day weekend, the primary end of the week in September.
When Should I Go to See the Leaves Change?
Leaves in Yosemite Valley, for the most part, don’t begin changing shading until the finish of October, however, this is immensely factor. Likewise, the shading change isn’t as sensational as the eastern pieces of the United States. Aspens in the higher heights can begin changing once again in the center to late October too. Simply recall that Tioga Road can encounter transitory (at times multi-day) terminations all through October if cold tempests come in.
To see the cascades, visit in late May to early June. Snowpack in the higher heights will soften, which means cascades in Yosemite Valley and Hetch Hetchy will be near the pinnacle. At the point when precisely the genuine pinnacle happens differs from year to year dependent on climate. In any case, visiting whenever during this window can essentially ensure amazing water. These are additionally the great months for moonbow seeing during full moon timespans. Mirror Lake is the biggest now. There are impediments to this timeframe. Especially in late May, however, even into June, Glacier Point Road and especially Tioga Roads may, in any case, be shut. Once more, this relies upon the climate and the snowfall of the first winter.
It is critical to have interchange plans if coming to Yosemite from the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada (Las Vegas, Reno, Death Valley). Additionally, regardless of whether Glacier Point Road and Tioga Road are open, some climbing trails may even now be extremely hard to discover as they may, in any case, be shrouded in snow. This especially applies to trails off of Tioga Road, however, can likewise apply to Glacier Point Road. Once more, adaptability in high height climbing plans is key during this time. Keep in mind that Yosemite Falls is every now and again dry whenever from late July to late August (and into September), with different cascades decreasing essentially too during this time.
To see however much of the recreation center as could reasonably be expected via vehicle, July through September will be an ideal opportunity to visit. Decently reliable (however there are special cases) the majority of the streets are open during these months. Both the lower and higher height territories of the recreation center are commonly open, with probably a few, if not a ton, of climbing accessible. July 2011 saw some climbing still confined by snow and incredibly, high water. Be that as it may, this was an irregular year with heaps of more snow than expected. July and August will, in general, be the busiest months of the year. In the event that conceivable, maintain a strategic distance from the recreation center on Saturdays and Sundays.
Weekdays are additionally exceptionally swarmed, however, traffic will in general crest on the ends of the week. On the off chance that in the recreation center on ends of the week, center around the Tioga Road territory to at any rate maintain a strategic distance from a portion of the chafing traffic/stopping, however, there will, in any case, be a lot of individuals here. 2011 likewise considered June to be abnormally occupied, with traffic like July levels.
What is the Best Time to Climb Half Dome?
To climb Half Dome, visit June through September. Remember that the Half Dome links for the most part up to the third end of the week in May, and keep awake until Columbus Day in October, so in fact, the climb is do-capable in that time run. In any case, late May can be very hit and miss similar to climate. In 2011 with the extra snowpack, links did not go up until June. Likewise, October is especially a progress time for climate. It isn’t exceptional for a snow tempest or overwhelming precipitation tempest to move through in October, making Half Dome climbs tricky. Likewise recall acquire a Half Dome grant well ahead of time of visiting, as these are difficult to find when they become accessible, and almost difficult to dropped by multi-day or two preceding an arranged climb. The National Park Service has a page about grants and there is a TA article too.
To maintain a strategic distance from groups and see waterfalls…this truly is unimaginable. Visiting on weekdays in late May and maintaining a strategic distance from Memorial Day weekend will lessen the quantity of individuals/vehicles experienced, however, there will even now be a lot of individuals and most Yosemite novices will, in any case, consider their visit swarmed whenever during cascade season.
How Can I Avoid Most of the Tourists and Crowds?
To genuinely stay away from the groups, visit in December through March. There are numerous admonitions to this. Thanksgiving week, Christmas/New years time and President’s Day weekend can at present be genuinely occupied and hard to get lodging/outdoors reservations. Generally, however, these are where an individual can walk around Yosemite Valley and feel like they have the recreation center to themselves. Availability is progressively constrained during these months. Icy mass Point, Tioga Road, and the Mariposa Grove street are shut down to traffic. Ice sheet Point and Tioga are just available to cross-country skiers (and healthy snowshoers), and they are long treks. The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias can be gotten to by foot, with a 2-mile step by step (yet recognizably) tough climb to the parking area where trees are visible. It’s another tough 1 mile to the Grizzly Giant. Here and there the street into the Grove is clear of snow, and thusly a generally moderate stroll since it’s cleared. It isn’t unprecedented for it to be canvassed in snow, and this makes the stroll in increasingly troublesome. Tenaya Lodge more often than not leases snowshoes, and it is situated around 10 minutes south of the Mariposa Grove on hwy 41.
Yosemite Valley is still truly open, however tire chains might be required relying upon climate, especially on hwy 41 or hwy 120, yet now and again on hwy 140 and in the Valley itself. Perspectives on Half Dome, El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite Falls, and Glacier Point are anything but difficult to get to. The 4 Mile trail is shut almost up, and even before that remaining parts frigid/blanketed the greater part of the winter since it is dependably in the shade. Upper Yosemite Fall trail is much of the time in generally excellent condition, especially to the principal seeing region of the cascade in light of the fact that the trail is in the sun each day. Lower Yosemite Fall is commonly truly open, however, like the remainder of the Valley, can be frigid/tricky now and again. The Mist Trail is shut in light of rockfall risk and ice, yet relying upon temperatures, the footbridge to see Vernal Fall can be available. It is in the concealed piece of the valley, however, and on the grounds that it is cleared can get very dangerous. Mirror Lake is little now, yet generally walkable.
Where Should I Go for Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow Tubing?
The Badger Pass Downhill Ski Area is open from mid-December until the finish of March assuming the rainclouds hold back. Badger Pass is one of the old ski slopes in California and is a family situated territory with a phenomenal ski school. Regardless of whether you don’t ski, the trek from the valley can be advantageous. Badger Pass additionally offers the absolute best cross country skiing accessible with 90 miles of checked trails and 25 miles of machine prepped trails; particularly great is a 21-mile circle to Glacier Point, which is stupendous in winter. There are likewise guided, backwoods cross-country visits accessible.
You can likewise snowshoe at Badger Pass with either officer drove snowshoe strolls or free strolls. Snow Tubing is the fourth movement at Badger Pass and occurs with morning and evening sessions that most recent two hours each. Badger Pass offers rentals for cross-country, downhill ski/snowboard rentals, ski exercises, snowshoes and snow tubing.
A free transport keeps running from Yosemite Lodge to Badger Pass twice toward the beginning of the day however it is conceivable to drive to Badger Pass autonomously (tire chains regularly required out and about).
To knapsack, July through September are extraordinary months, however, October can be too relying upon the climate. It is conceivable to knapsack prior in the year. Be that as it may, except if arranged to trail find through snow, it very well may be troublesome. Add to this high water intersections, and after that, it turns into a bit more…exciting (read conceivably hazardous relying upon past hiking background). Hetch Hetchy is a lower height region well known with hikers.
The Verdict: The Best Time To Visit Yosemite
Yosemite National Park may be one of the best trips you can take with your family over the summer.
There are so many beautiful and natural sights to see, it is tough to even consider listing them all.
Know that you won’t be disappointed if you make this your choice for the visiting. Any time you can visit a park like this is the best time to visit Yosemite.
Finally, summertime is definitely a peak season to explore the park. However, as long as you are armed with some basic facts (like it’s going to be crowded) and are prepared to maybe wait at shuttle stops more. Then the trip will still be one of the best your family has taken to date.