Visiting Yosemite National Park is a unique experience. In this National Park, you can see from giant sequoias and the highest waterfall in North America to black bears and some of the best hiking routes in the California Sierras. In Yosemite N.P you will experience in first person the real American outdoor culture.
In addition, if you love scenic views, you will find in Yosemite the best panoramic views you can imagine. And surely, one of the most important landmarks in the park; The enormous granite rocks that made Yosemite Valley the mecca of climbing: El Capitan and Half Dome.
Located in the Sierra Nevada of California, Yosemite was the final destination of our 10-day West Coast road trip. Like camping lovers, we decided to spend three days discovering this National Park and hiking as many routes as we could. However, if you only have one day in Yosemite Park do not worry, this National Park is easily accessible, and the main attractions are concentrated in Yosemite Valley.
GUIDE TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
In this guide, we want to help you prepare your route through Yosemite National Park, regardless of the days of your visit.
Once you know where Yosemite is and how to move around Yosemite, best short and long hikes in Yosemite N.P, the number of days you can spend and the accommodation that best suits your needs, your itinerary will be ready.
To make it easier for you, we will organize our Guide to Yosemite National Park as follows:
- What to do in Yosemite National Park
- Best Tips for visiting Yosemite National Park
- More information about Yosemite National Park
- Yosemite curiosities and facts
- Best B&Bs and hotels: Accommodation in Yosemite
- Best images of Yosemite
- Yosemite National Park map
WHAT TO DO IN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
This section, where we will cover what to do and to see in Yosemite, is divided into four areas:
- Yosemite Valley, where you will find the best hiking trails to do in Yosemite.
- Glacier Point Road, where we can enjoy the best views of Yosemite Valley.
- Tioga Road, only open during the summer. We will see the remotest areas in Yosemite N.P.
- Mariposa Grove, home of the largest trees in the world, the giant sequoias.
WHAT TO DO IN YOSEMITE VALLEY
Yosemite Valley is the heart of Yosemite National Park and a must if you visit this national park. This is the perfect area if you are visiting Yosemite in a day, as most of the Yosemite landmarks are concentrated here. It is true that in summer the valley is crowded with tourists who can make your experience everything except a peaceful getaway to the Sierras, but still, visiting Yosemite Valley is worth it and there are always less crowded trails and possibilities.
The most crowded area is known as Yosemite Village (formerly called Curry Village), where we will find shops, grocery’s, parking lots, a wide range of hotels and the Yosemite Visitor Center.
Keep in mind that touring Yosemite by car is complicated, first by a large number of tourists that make it impossible to find a free parking lot in summer and second because the road that surrounds the valley is circular and only in one way. To make the transit of travelers easier between the different points of interest of Yosemite, a free bus shuttle service is available, but we will talk about this later.
The most scenic Yosemite hikes start from the valley as well. Although the first thing I recommend doing in Yosemite is going to the visitor center to know the current situation of the different Yosemite routes and attractions so you are not disappointed if you find dry waterfalls and lakes or routes closed by snow or fires.
The main protagonist in Yosemite Valley is El Capitan, a granite mass of 7569 feet high flanking one of the sides of the valley.
It has been the most desired and challenging wall of the United States by climbers from all over the world through history, and it is only 40 years ago since its first ascent, after 46 days of vertical climb.
Even if you are not a climbing fan, getting closer to the base to see the climbers starting their ascent, or looking from a distance trying to find the tiny climbers closer to the top, is priceless.
On the other side of the valley and in the distance, with a characteristic half vault shape, stands the Half Dome, another rocky granite formation 8839 feet high and equally longed-for by climbers.
Today, climbing to the top of Half Dome is not a big challenge as it used to be. No technical climbing skills are required, but a permit to use the wires of the via ferrata that take you to the top.
Permits to cross the via ferrata are given in March of each year through the lottery that is celebrated on this website, issuing 300 permits per day.
If you do not prepare your trip so far in advance, you can also apply to the lottery two days before the day you want to make the ascent, but in that case, there are only 50 permits per day. We tried our luck for the three days that we spent in Yosemite, and we did not get any permission, although keep in mind that we traveled in August when the park is full of people.
In any case, you must pay $6 per application, which will not be returned, even if you don’t get the permission, plus $10 once they confirm that you have been awarded a permit.
The Yosemite Falls are divided into three consecutive waterfalls making a total height of 2425 feet, being the highest waterfalls in North America.
The route that goes to Lower Yosemite Falls is easy and accessible, even for wheelchairs or if you travel to Yosemite with children.
However, to reach the impressive Upper Yosemite Falls, we need to hike a 6-8 hour round trip route with a height of 2700 feet. At the top, there is a well-deserved reward: the natural pool just before the falls, where you can have a refreshing bath.
I would not recommend this route if you’re visiting Yosemite in one day.
Also, if you visit Yosemite in summer, keep in mind that the waterfalls may be completely dry in August. In our case, we were lucky, because even traveling in this month we got to see them with enough water.
YOSEMITE VALLEY VIEW
Valley View is, for me, the most beautiful scene in Yosemite Valley. At the edge of the Merced River, the imposing form of El Capitan faces the Cathedral Rocks, which are reflected on the river. If you plan to visit Yosemite in one day, this is one of the viewpoints that you cannot miss.
I recommend this site especially to photograph the sunrise and sunset, capturing one of the most iconic views of the Valley.
Tunnel View is undoubtedly the most representative view you have to see in Yosemite Valley. This viewpoint dragged painters and artists since the discovering of Yosemite in the 1850s.
From this spectacular outlook, we can see El Capitan on the left, Cathedral rock with the great Bridalveil falls on the right and the Half Dome in the background. On top of that, we can enjoy the lush pine forest of the valley in the middle. Like Valley view, the best time to photograph Yosemite Valley from Tunnel view is at sunrise and sunset, especially in the morning when the fog forms around the valley.
The 1-hour route to Mirror Lake, at the foot of the Half Dome, is also one of the most popular routes in the valley. Before visiting, I recommend checking the lake situation in the visitor center, since during the summer it usually dries up.
The name of the lake comes from the particular effect that takes place in spring when we can see the Half Dome reflected on its surface.
Bridalveil Falls is another of the waterfalls that overlook the valley and that we will see as soon as we enter Yosemite Valley. Besides, this is one of the few waterfalls with water all year round.
The route to the waterfalls is very simple, it only takes about 20 minutes, although to reach its base you need to climb the slippery rocks below the falls.
Although you do not get close to the waterfall, it is one of the must-see places in Yosemite.
VERNAL & NEVADA FALLS
The route that goes to Vernal Falls is also quite simple and only takes 1 hour and a half round trip. However, you can continue on the Mist Trail to get to Nevada Fall, becoming a strenuous route, and with very exposed sections that can last between 6 and 8 hours for the 5’4 miles round trip.
From Nevada Falls we can continue until we reach the cables that go up to Half Dome, but remember that to climb Half Dome a permit is required. Please note that, in addition to the permit for the use of the cables, you must obtain a Wilderness permit if you want to do in two days the 14 miles round trip required to make the full journey to the top of the Half Dome.
WHAT TO SEE IN YOSEMITE: GLACIER POINT
The next essential thing to do in Yosemite is to look for the best panoramic views from Glacier Point Road, a dead-end road that starts in the valley crosses the Wawona Tunnel and rises up the southern part of the valley until you reach the imposing Glacier Point. Keep in mind that this road is not open all year round and the opening dates change from one year to the next depending on the snow (usually between April and November). I recommend you check the status of this road before adding it to your route.
In this section, we will talk about the main views to see in Yosemite Glacier Point Road.
Taft Point is the first must stop at Yosemite Glacier Point Road. Actually, from the parking lot you will not see anything, but after an easy route of 1 hour one way (0.6-mile) we will reach an otherworldly view of El Capitan and the Upper Yosemite Falls.
If you have acrophobia (fear of heights) I do not recommend that you go to this viewpoint, since the infinite granite walls of hundreds of feet are fully exposed. With care, this is one of the best places to see the sunset in Yosemite and the only moderately long route that I advise you to do if you visit Yosemite in a day.
We will talk later about the significant number of accidents and deaths in Yosemite, and we would like to insist; Taft point is one of the most exposed locations where people fall to death every year.
The Sentinel Dome route also starts at the Taft Point parking lot and also offers one of the best views of the park. If we only hike this trail, it will take 2 hours to do the 2.2 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 410 feet. However, if we make a Taft Point – Sentinel Dome loop, going through Roosevelt Point, it will take between 3 and 4 hours with an elevation gain of over 900 feet.
Shortly before arriving at Glacier Point we went through Washburn Point, a somewhat less frequented viewpoint and where we can have beautiful views of Vernal and Nevada Falls flanked by the imposing Half Dome.
Finally, at the end of the road, we will reach Glacier Point, without a doubt one of the most stunning and touristic points of this area, and where you can find restrooms, telephones, and even a store. Getting a good spot to photograph the Half Dome from here at sunset can be complicated by the number of people visiting Glacier Point at the end of the day, so make sure you arrive well in advance before sunset.
WHAT TO SEE IN YOSEMITE: TIOGA ROAD
If you are visiting Death Valley after Yosemite or vice versa, the Tioga Road links this two National Parks. However, keep in mind that Tioga Road is a high mountain pass and most of the year it is closed by snow. Although it usually opens from June to October, the dates change every year, so I recommend that you check the conditions on this road before preparing your route.
The best thing about Tioga is that it is relatively quiet and not as touristy as other areas of Yosemite, even during high season. As it is further located and with fewer people, the wildlife in the surroundings is abundant, and with a bit of luck, you can see from deer to black bears. You will see many signals to moderate your speed in this area to protect the wildlife, especially considering the many endangered species in Yosemite like black bears or Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.
Do not miss our guide to survive bear attacks if you are planning to hike in the backcountry or remote locations around Tioga.
Along this road, we will drive between the two main slopes of Sierra Nevada passing through a vast subalpine meadow, Tuolumne Meadows, and reaching the maximum height in Yosemite Tioga Pass of more than 13000 feet.
Starting from Yosemite Valley, the first thing to visit in Yosemite Tioga Road is Tuolumne Grove, a dense forest where we can see giant sequoias.
Usually, visitors prefer to see these huge trees in Mariposa Grove, which I will talk about later. However, Tuolumne Grove is the best option if you do not have much time or if Mariposa is closed (for restoration, as it happened during our trip, or because of the snow).
I do not know how big and impressive the sequoias will be in Mariposa, so I cannot suggest if it is better to visit Tuolumne Grove or Mariposa Grove, but, in any case, the sequoias of Tuolumne exceeded our expectations.
Once we pass Tuolumne Grove and well into the Tioga Road, we arrive at one of the most popular viewpoints of this road, Olmsted Point, from where we will have views of the back of the Half Dome and other granite rocks that surround it.
Just after the previous viewpoint, we will arrive at Tenaya Lake, a glacial lake where we had the opportunity to see the sunset with spectacular reflections.
From here starts of one of the most epic hikes to do in Yosemite, Clouds Rest. We didn’t have enough time to do it since it takes a full day, but it is in the top of our Yosemite bucket list things to do for our next trip.
The route covers a distance of 12.4 miles. The hardest section is the one that reaches the Fork of Sunrise Lakes, between the second and third kilometer, where we will gain 980 elevation feet. From here the route follows without sudden changes of elevation and a slight difficulty, except for the final section, which, although it does not require an excellent physical condition, it demands a considerable tolerance to heights. In the last part, we will cross a narrow ridge with falls on both sides, where the final reward is waiting for us: Incredible views of the Half Dome, the Tenaya Canyon, and the surrounding mountains.
If we continue along the Tioga Road, we will arrive at the Tuolumne Meadows, where you can find several streams and the Tuolumne River, one of the purest and cleanest rivers in the United States. Part of the prairie floods during some times of the year, which creates a unique and highly valuable ecosystem.
To have a good view of the meadow and the surrounding peaks, it is recommended to take the route that leads to Lembert Dome and Dog Lake, with an approximate duration of four hours on a 4 miles round trip.
However, the most popular hike in this area is the one that leads to Cathedral Lakes, a 6.8-mile round trip that takes approximately 4-6 hours to complete and where you can see the Upper and Lower Cathedral Lakes. The main interest here is the unique shape of Cathedral Peak Mountain reflected on the lakes.
At the east entrance of the Tioga Road, we can make a route of only two hours round trip where we can enjoy amazing landscapes. It is the hike to the Gaylor Lakes where since the beginning of the trail you can enjoy wonderful views.
Unfortunately, no official Yosemite map covers in depth all the routes and places of interest on this road, although many of them are in this brochure.
WHAT TO SEE IN YOSEMITE: MARIPOSA GROVE
One of the essential things you have to do in Yosemite is seeing the giant sequoias. These trees are the longest living trees on earth and can live up to 3000 years. Throughout their lives, they can reach more than 320 feet and have a trunk of 30 feet in diameter. Without a doubt, walking near these trees will make you feel tiny.
The largest grove of sequoias in Yosemite is located in the southern part of the park, in what is known as Mariposa Grove, where more than 500 sequoias live.
To get to Mariposa Grove, we must take a free bus that leaves Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza, at the south entrance of Yosemite. On this website, you can check the shuttle schedules. Access by car is prohibited during the hours of operation of the shuttle.
Once in Mariposa Grove, there are different hiking routes of more or less difficulty. But as usual, to get to the most interesting area known as Upper Grove and where more redwoods are concentrated, it is necessary to make a difficult route with a noteworthy elevation gain. However, if you are not a hiking enthusiast do not worry, there are other easier routes in Lower Grove where we can find some of the most popular Yosemite redwoods, such as Grizzly Giant or the California Tunnel Tree. In this link, you can see attached a map with all the routes in Mariposa Grove.
When we traveled to Yosemite, Mariposa Grove was closed because of a restoration project that lasted three years. In winter, the road that leads to this forest, Mariposa Grove Road, will also be closed by snow. You can check the conditions before your visit here. In any case, if you cannot include Mariposa in your route, we suggest not to miss the Tuolumne Grove sequoias in Tiaga Road.
Best hikes in Yosemite National Park
Summing up, these are the 10 best hikes in Yosemite:
- Upper Yosemite Falls
- Nevada Falls
- Vernal Falls
- Half Dome
- Mirror Lake
- Taft Point – Sentinel Dome
- Toulumne Grove
- Clouds Rest
- Mariposa Grove Trail
- Cathedral Lake
BEST TIPS FOR VISITING YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
HOW TO GET TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Although it is a high mountain park, getting to Yosemite Park in California is easy as it is very well connected.
There are four entrances to Yosemite National Park. Two entrances are to the west, Big Oak Flat Entrance and Arch Rock Entrance, one entrance is to the south, South Entrance, and the last entrance is located to the east; Tioga Pass Entrance.
Depending on the time of year when we travel, as well as the place where we are traveling from, we will use one entrance or another.
HOW TO GET TO YOSEMITE FROM LAS VEGAS
Getting to Yosemite from Las Vegas by car is easier in summer when the Tioga Road is open, and we can use the Tioga Pass Entrance. Otherwise, we must use the South Entrance.
The distance between Yosemite and Las Vegas is 400 miles, taking approximately 7 and a half hours, so I recommend visiting Death Valley on your way, and therefore, arriving at Yosemite from Death Valley next day.
We took this option in summer. For more information do not miss our Guide to Death Valley.
HOW TO GET TO YOSEMITE FROM SAN FRANCISCO
To get to Yosemite from San Francisco, we can consider the Big Oak Flat Entrance or the Arch Rock Entrance.
Big Oak Flat Entrance can be reached via the 120W route west from Oakdale. This is the fastest way to get to Yosemite from San Francisco at a distance of 186 miles, taking only 4 hours. However, it is not recommended if you travel by RV since the road is quite steep.
To enter through Arch Rock Entrance, we will do it through route 140 west from Mariposa and Merced. This route has better views and it is normally used by RVs and buses, which in summer causes a lot of traffic.
Being relatively close, if you do not want to drive, another option would be to hire a day tour to Yosemite from San Francisco.
HOW TO GET TO YOSEMITE FROM LOS ANGELES
To get to Yosemite from Los Angeles we will take route 41 north from Fresno and Los Angeles. The distance between Yosemite and Los Angeles is 300 miles and will take approximately 6 hours.
HOW TO GET TO YOSEMITE BY BUS
If you travel in high season, when parking in Yosemite is hard to find, a solution may be to get to Yosemite Valley by bus. There is a network of shuttle buses called YARTS that connects Yosemite Valley with the main cities to the east and west: Lee Vining, Mammoth Lakes, Merced, Mariposa, El Portal or Fresno.
You can check the prices and tours on their website.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK OPENING TIMES
Yosemite is open every day of the year, 24 hours a day. However, roads may be closed by snow or in the event of a fire.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK ENTRANCE FEE
The entrance fee to Yosemite is $ 30 per vehicle, including all occupants for seven consecutive days. One option to save money on Yosemite Park tickets, if you plan to visit other national parks, is to buy an America the Beautiful annual pass for $80.
HOW TO MOVE AROUND YOSEMITE
In summer it is recommended not to move around Yosemite by car, as there is not enough parking space for all visitors, especially in Yosemite Valley. The park is aware of this problem, and they offer free shuttle that operates year-round from 7 am to 10 pm around Yosemite Valley. On this Yosemite Valley map, you can see the main stops. If you travel in June, July or August, I recommend that you leave the car where you are staying and use these buses to move around the valley.
There are also other bus lines in Yosemite National Park that connect the valley with more remote areas, although these services are private and you need to buy the tickets:
- Glacier Point Tour: When Glacier Point Road is open, connect Yosemite Valley with Glacier Point.
- Yosemite Valley-Tuolumne Meadows Hikers’ Bus: Starts at Yosemite Valley and takes to different points where hiking trails start on Tioga Road.
- Big Trees Tour: Link Yosemite Valley with Mariposa Grove when this area of the park is open.
To check ticket prices of these transfers, months of operation and schedules, I recommend visiting this website.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
In this section, you will find other tips to plan your visit to Yosemite, like the best time to visit Yosemite National Park with plans according to each month, as well as examples of itineraries according to whether you visit Yosemite in one day, in two days or three days.
BEST TIME TO VISIT YOSEMITE
If you can choose when to visit Yosemite, in the spring, you will find overflowing waterfalls. The melting of the mountains makes rivers and waterfalls to come back to life, and you can enjoy the best views. The Yosemite temperature average in April and May is between 71ºF and 41ºF.
However, the time when more people visit Yosemite is in summer, when all the routes and roads are open, even though the waterfalls through August may not have much water.
During the fall, Yosemite offers beautiful autumn colors, and if the first snowfalls take some time, we can enjoy all the hiking routes with fewer tourists.
If you are not a snow sports lover I would not recommend visiting Yosemite in winter since you can only enjoy Yosemite Valley like the rest of the roads will be covered by snow and you will have to face temperatures below 32ºF.
WHAT TO DO IN YOSEMITE IN EACH MONTH
Here I propose a series of plans that you can do in Yosemite according to the month when you visit the National Park:
|MONTHS||WHAT TO DO IN YOSEMITE ACCORDING TO THE MONTH|
|Yosemite in January||Skiing in the Ski and Snowboard Area|
|Yosemite in February||Enjoy the natural Firefall in Horsetail Fall|
|Yosemite in March||Hiking with snowshoes|
|Yosemite in April||See the “Frazil Ice” in some rivers and waterfalls of Yosemite|
|Yosemite in May||Yosemite waterfalls in all their glory and wildflowers|
|Yosemite in June||“Moonbow” in the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls|
|Yosemite in July||Great hiking trails in Yosemite|
|Yosemite in August||Enjoy Mariposa Grove or the meadows of Tuolumne|
|Yosemite in September||More pleasant temperatures for climbing|
|Yosemite in October||Enjoy the fall colors in Yosemite|
|Yosemite in November||Simple hiking trails and photographing the valley with clouds and autumn light|
|Yosemite in December||Celebrate Christmas with the famous “Christmas Bracebridge dinner” at the Majestic Hotel
HOW MANY DAYS ARE NECESSARY TO VISIT YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Yosemite covers a great extension so even if you visit Yosemite in a week you will have plenty of things to do. However, sometimes it is difficult to find so much time to visit Yosemite and most people only spend a day or two in this National Park.
WHAT TO DO IN YOSEMITE IN ONE DAY
If you are planning to spend a day in Yosemite, the best itinerary includes the main viewpoints of Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point Road accessible by car, such as Valley View, Tunnel View, and Glacier Point.
I suggest you try to sleep in Yosemite Valley; otherwise, you will spend a long time entering and leaving the valley.
If you’re not going to stay overnight, there are Yosemite Day Tours from San Francisco, which will be the best option if you’re in this nearby city and you do not have much time.
WHAT TO DO IN YOSEMITE IN TWO DAYS
If you have two days in Yosemite, you can add a short route, such as Mirror Lake, Lower Yosemite Falls, or Bridalveil Falls.
Besides, you can visit some more distant places, such as Mariposa Grove or Tuolumne Grove.
WHAT TO DO IN YOSEMITE IN 3 DAYS
If you are visiting Yosemite in 3 days or more, you can add a long route, such as the one going to Nevada Falls, Clouds Rest or Upper Yosemite Falls.
YOSEMITE CURIOSITIES AND FACTS
FIRES IN YOSEMITE
Fire is a natural part of Yosemite. It is fundamental to the park’s ecosystem. However, fires caused by man or threatening people or property are eradicated.
Some of these uncontrolled fires have ended with Yosemite National Park closed, such as the Ferguson fire, which, in August 2018, got Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove closed. In that fire, the reopening of Yosemite did not take place until the following week, and luckily the Yosemite Valley did not end up burned out, but simply filled with smoke from the nearby fire.
The year that we traveled, in August 2017, Yosemite was not closed, but there was still a lot of smoke in the valley from near fires which created an alert in the park.
In any case, remember that fires produced by lightning in Yosemite are widespread in summer and it is essential to check this Yosemite fire map before your trip.
BEARS IN YOSEMITE
Throughout the park, you will find a lot of posters and signals warning of the presence of bears in Yosemite.
In addition to taking special care with speeding, you should follow some rules regarding food storage and other soaps, and other hygiene products that can attract the presence of bears. In almost all car parks and campsites you will see bear food containers.
American black bears, which are the only type of bears we can find in Yosemite, are not usually aggressive. However, the policy of keeping wild bears came too late to Yosemite, so, on many occasions, by getting used to the presence of humans, they have lost their fear and become more aggressive.
Nowadays, bears found in camps and urbanized areas are put down to sleep. To protect yourself and to protect the bears from being put down and become more aggressive, please storage your food in the right containers and follow the basic precautions with bears.
If you are interested in this topic you can find more information on our guide to avoiding bears attacks.
DEATHS IN YOSEMITE
Sadly, Yosemite is one of the National parks were more accidents take place, and people lose their lives every year.
Even though it might look like a homely and friendly National park, every single year there are deaths mainly from drowning, lightning strikes and especially falls.
The views are spectacular in the main lookouts, but getting closer to the edge won’t offer a better view or a better perspective for your photograph. A selfie on the edge of a cliff is not worth your life.
Looking at this book about Deaths in Yosemite you can see Deaths in Yosemite is not a rare fact, with more than 800 registered accidents.
CLIMBING IN YOSEMITE
If Yosemite is renowned for something it undoubtedly is for being the mecca of rock climbing. Its smooth granite walls are the perfect place to practice this sport, which has been intimately linked with the history of the Yosemite Valley.
Before the 20th century, the naturalist John Muir began to climb some places like “Cathedral Peak” without ropes or climbing equipment. It was not until the early 30s that the first pythons and rappelling systems arrived in the valley, brought mainly from the European Alps.
However, the real start of rock climbing did not begin until the 1950s, especially with the rivalry between Warren Harding and Royal Robins for conquering some unscaled walls at that time like Half Dome or El Capitan.
In the 70s, the practice of rock climbing was at its highest peak. In this period famous rock-climbing groups such as the Stonemasters with their leader Jim Bridwell emerged and the famous “Camp 4” was popularized as the climbers’ camp.
The 90 led to the era of fast climbs or “Speed Climbing,” with the first free ascent of El Capitan. Some of the most famous climbers of this period were Dean Potter and Lynn Hill.
Since 2000, speed climbing has continued to develop with climbers such as Tommy Caldwell or Alex Honold, beating all existing records such as the Free solo climb of El Capitan in June 2017, filmed in Free Solo National Geographic documentary.
HIPPIES IN YOSEMITE
In the 50s, with the rise of the counterculture that tried to break with the established order, there was a strong link between climbing and the hippy movement.
Young people without any occupation except to climb the highest rocks congregated at the base of El Capitan and smoked marijuana between ascent and ascent. As expected, the squabbles between the Park Rangers and climbers were frequent because of the bad image they were creating in the growing tourism of the valley.
However, everything changed one morning in 1977, when a plane from Colombia, which did not appear on American radars, crashed into Yosemite.
The climbers were the first to arrive, finding a treasure in the form of six tons of marijuana that made them millionaires almost on the spot, becoming one of the most curious stories of Yosemite.
Even if you are not a climbing lover, I recommend watching the documentary Valley Uprising to see how the hippies found in Yosemite the perfect place to break the rules through climbing.
BEST B&Bs and HOTELS: ACCOMMODATION IN YOSEMITE
In this section, you will find the best places to sleep in Yosemite. We divided it into two groups: accommodation within Yosemite National Park and accommodation near Yosemite National Park. At the same time, we will talk about hotels in Yosemite as well as camping in Yosemite, an option I have recommended in practically all the articles I have written about the US West Coast, and I would like to do especially for Yosemite, as it is one of the most scenic places for camping in the US.
ACCOMMODATION WITHIN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Yosemite is one of the most visited national parks in the United States, so if you do not plan your trip ahead of time, it can be difficult to find accommodation.
HOTELS WITHIN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
In total, within Yosemite National Park we can find seven hotels that range from fixed tents, where you will not need to take camping gear, to luxurious hotels. Of these seven accommodations, four are located within Yosemite Valley (The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Yosemite Valley Lodge, Half Dome Village and Housekeeping Camp), two on Tioga Road (White Wolf Lodge and Tuolumne Meadows) and one near Mariposa Grove (Big Trees Lodge).
CAMPGROUNDS WITHIN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
However, I recommend camping in Yosemite. You can find all the information about campsites in Yosemite Valley here: opening times, price, if they require a reservation or the spots are assigned in a first-come-first-served basis, etc.
However, if you want to make multi-day routes and camp out in the middle of nature, you need a Wilderness permit associated with the route you are going to take. For example, if you want to make a two-day route to climb the Half Dome, in addition to the permission for the cables that I mentioned earlier, we would need a special backcountry camping permit for that area. You can find all the information about how to book it here.
Another lodging option in Yosemite is the High Sierra Camps; Five pre-set camps as remote as if you were using a Wilderness Permit. This type of camp can only be reached on foot, and there is no need to carry a tent (although the sleeping bag is highly recommended). In addition, they offer meals at an extra cost, or you can even hire a guided tour by a Ranger. You can book this from here.
HOW TO SECURE A SPOT AT CAMP 4 IN YOSEMITE VALLEY
In summer, most visitors think it is so difficult to find accommodation within the park (and so expensive) that they directly look at B&Bs outside Yosemite Valley. However, here we will break down a unique way to sleep very cheaply and in the heart of Yosemite Valley. And much better, without reservation.
Sleeping in Yosemite Camp 4 is not only cheap ($6 per person) and highly advisable for the place where it is located, in the heart of Yosemite Valley. Camping at Camp 4 should be mandatory if you want to experience the essence of the park and know the historic camp where hippy climbers camped at the feet of El Capitan trying to get to the top.
The spots are booked in a first-come, first served basis. With only 35, in high season it is always filled shortly after the Ranger opens the box office, at 8:30 in the morning.
However, there is an infallible way to secure a spot in Camp 4: consider that this camp includes a first night of bivouac at the gates of the Ranger’s house. The next morning, when you wake up, you will have behind you dozens of early-bird campers who will not get a place. When we talk about Camp 4, getting up early does not secure a spot, but staying overnight in the queue certainly does. Do not worry about bears and other animals; there will be at least 20 people doing the same.
Remember that in this campsite as in the rest of Yosemite in summer; camping is not allowed for more than seven days in a row in the same campground.
ACCOMMODATION NEAR YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
If you decide to stay outside Yosemite National Park, this is the best accommodation depending on the entrance to the park. Remember that we had four entrances to the park, three to the west (Big Oak Flat Entrance, Arch Rock Entrance, and South Entrance) and one entrance to the east (Tioga Pass Entrance).
HOTELS NEAR ARCH ROCK ENTRANCE
The entrance of Arch Rock is the closest to Yosemite Valley, so it is usually one of the favorite areas to find a hotel in Yosemite. The nearest towns are El Portal and slightly further away Mariposa. In this two locations we can find suitable accommodation such as the following:
- Yosemite View Lodge
- Cedar Lodge
- Best Western Plus Yosemite Way Station
- Yosemite Inn
- Quality Inn Yosemite Valley Gateway
HOTELS NEAR BIG OAK FLAT ENTRANCE
These are the hotels that we recommend to stay near the entrance of Yosemite Big Oak Flat, with a good value for money.
If at the time of your booking you do not find anything available for your dates, I recommend looking for accommodation in the surroundings of Groveland.
HOTELS NEAR YOSEMITE SOUTH ENTRANCE
If we want to stay near the south entrance, then it is best to look for a hotel near Oakhurst. These are some of the best quality-price hotels.
HOTELS NEAR TIOGA PASS ENTRANCE
- Lake View Lodge
- Yosemite Gateway Motel
- Gull Lake Lodge
- Lake Front Cabins
- Heidelberg Inn
- Motel 6 Mammoth Lakes
- Best Western Plus High Sierra Hotel
BEST IMAGES OF YOSEMITE
As in all our guides, we like to finish our articles with a selection of our favorite photos.
Here you can find our best Yosemite images.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK MAP
With this Yosemite map, we say goodbye. Below you will find all the facilities and attractions around Yosemite and the main roads.
I hope this Yosemite map will be useful for you during your trip.