Sights, Things To Do 387 Views

Yosemite National Park


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Yosemite National Park
California, United States

37°44′33″N 119°32′15″W

Your Ultimate Guide to Yosemite National Park



Nestled in the heart of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park stands as a testament to the awe-inspiring beauty of nature. From towering waterfalls to colossal granite cliffs, ancient sequoia trees, and diverse wildlife, Yosemite is a haven for adventurers seeking an unparalleled connection with the outdoors.


📍 Getting to Yosemite National Park:

✈️ By Air:

Yosemite is accessible from several airports, providing convenient options for travelers.

  • Fresno-Yosemite International Airport (FAT): Located 95 miles from the park, approximately a 2.5-hour drive.
  • Oakland International (OAK): About 180 miles away, a 4.5-hour drive to Yosemite.
  • Sacramento International Airport (SMF): Situated 125 miles from the park, it takes a little over 3 hours to drive.
  • San Francisco International (SFO): The second-closest major airport, around 190 miles away (4.5 hours of driving).
  • Norman Y. Mineta San José International (SJC): 178 miles from Yosemite, about a 4.5-hour drive.


🚙 By Car:

Embarking on a road trip to Yosemite offers scenic routes and diverse entry points.

  • Highway 120: Ideal for those coming from San Francisco or Sacramento, passing through gateway towns like Mariposa, Groveland, and Oakdale.
  • Highway 140: The historic route to Yosemite, following past railway tracks, with stops at Mariposa and Catheys Valley.
  • Highway 41: Leads directly to the south entrance, offering opportunities to explore historic railroads, inns, and vineyards.
  • Tioga Road: The most picturesque route, providing stunning views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and passing through gateway towns like Lee Vining.


🚂 By Train:

Consider the San Joaquins Amtrak, which takes you to the Merced, California Station. From there, transfer to an Amtrak bus directly into Yosemite Valley.


📍Getting Around:

By Car:

The most popular way to explore Yosemite is by car, allowing visitors to navigate the park at their own pace. Scenic roads like Tioga Road offer breathtaking views, usually open from May to June and sometimes in November.

By Shuttle:

Yosemite offers a range of shuttle services, including the Yosemite Valley Shuttle, El Capitan Shuttle, Tuolumne Meadows Shuttle, and Badger Pass Ski Area Shuttle. These shuttles operate during different parts of the year, providing access to major attractions, shops, and lodging areas.


The Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) is an excellent option for getting around. Tickets are available online, offering routes, schedules, and interactive maps.


🎯 What To See and Do:

Bridalveil Fall:

  • An impressive 188 meters high waterfall, flowing year-round.
  • Easy trails provide stunning views of the falls, landscape, and wildlife.

El Capitan:

  • A colossal granite formation, over half a mile tall and a mile wide.
  • Popular among rock climbers, offering panoramic views.

Glacier Point:

  • Overlook with stunning views of Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls, and Half Dome.
  • Accessible by car from late May to November, offering snow activities in winter.

Half Dome:

  • Massive granite formation in the eastern part of Yosemite Valley.
  • A challenging 14-to-16-mile hike with panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra.

Tunnel View:

  • Offers breathtaking views of El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and Half Dome.
  • Best times to visit include early spring and winter.

Tuolomne Meadows:

  • One of the largest alpine meadows in the Sierra Nevada.
  • Features the Tuolomne River, majestic mountains, and beautiful meadows.

Yosemite Falls:

  • One of the tallest waterfalls in North America, over 2,425 feet high.
  • Hiking options with an 8-hour journey for incredible views.


📌 Best Times To Visit:

To Avoid Crowds:

  • Winter and early spring (November to May) for lower crowds.
  • Winter wonderland with snow-covered landscapes.

For Wildlife:

  • Spring for wildlife sightings as animals come out of hibernation.

Cheapest Time To Visit:

  • Middle or end of September for reduced flight prices and fewer visitors.


🎊 Events:

Yosemite hosts regular events, including daily art classes, ask-a-climber sessions, and stargazing sessions like “Exploring Yosemite Valley Night Sky.”


🏩 Where To Stay inside the Park:

Ahwahnee Hotel:

  • Premier lodge with various room styles.
  • Built in 1927, a National Historic Landmark with luxury accommodations.

Curry Village:

  • Largest lodging facility in Yosemite Valley.
  • Offers motel rooms, cabins, and canvas tents with various amenities.

Narrow Gauge Inn:

  • Rustic inn with stunning views of Mt. Raymond and Lewis Creek Valley.
  • Offers standard rooms, suites, and cabins with access to nature trails.

Wawona Hotel:

  • Victorian-style National Historic Landmark.
  • Over 100 rooms surrounded by lush greenery, featuring a golf course and horse stables.

Yosemite Valley Lodge:

  • Closest property to Yosemite Falls with 245 newly remodeled rooms.
  • Amenities include dining areas, a seasonal swimming pool, and a lounge.


Towns Near Yosemite:

Bass Lake:

  • Located 14 miles from Yosemite’s southern entrance.
  • Resorts, bed and breakfasts, and various dining options.
  • Outdoor activities including boating, fishing, and winter sports.

El Portal:

  • Town at the western entrance to Yosemite.
  • Provides a quiet retreat with limited lodging options.
  • Ideal for white water rafting and hiking.

Lee Vining:

  • Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near the eastern entrance to Yosemite.
  • Lodging options include motels, lodges, and luxury resorts.
  • Attractions include the Old Schoolhouse Museum and the Upside-Down House.


  • Historic town born during the California Gold Rush.
  • Accommodations include motels, hotels, cabins, and condos.
  • Activities include rafting trips and visits to the Garrote Hanging Tree.


  • Unique and historic gateway town with Gold Rush history.
  • Lodging options range from motel and hotel chains to family-owned inns.
  • Activities include biking, fishing, and visits to the Mariposa Museum & History Center.


  • Near the southern entrance to Yosemite.
  • Accommodations include bed and breakfasts, motels, and luxury hotels.
  • Activities include hiking, camping, and exploring Fresno Flats Historical Park.

Twain Harte:

  • Popular town with a lovely year-round climate.
  • Accommodations include cabins, bed and breakfasts, and hotels.
  • Activities include golfing, fishing, and visiting Columbia State Historic Park.


  • Historic town at the southern entrance to Yosemite.
  • Cabins available for visitors seeking a base camp experience.
  • Activities include hiking, viewing sequoia trees, and visiting the Yosemite History Center.

Yosemite West:

  • Small town outside Yosemite, ideal for peace and solitude.
  • Bed and breakfasts, inns, condos, and luxury cabins for a relaxing stay.


🍲 Where To Eat:

The Ahwahnee Dining Room:

  • Located in the Ahwahnee Hotel, serving breakfast and dinner.
  • Fine dining with beautiful decor and large windows offering a view.

The Mountain Room Restaurant: Restaurant & Menu 

  • Open year-round with views of a nearby waterfall.
  • Menu includes steaks, seafood, and vegetarian options.

Village Grill:

  • Offers classic grilled dishes, located near the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center.
  • Seasonally open from spring until early fall.

Meadow Grill:

  • Located in Curry Village, featuring grilled foods.
  • Open seasonally from April to September.


📷 [ Jordan Pulmano on Unsplash]


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