For nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers, Yosemite National Park is an unmissable destination.

Located on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it spans three counties in California and covers a vast area of 761,268 acres (1,200 square miles).

This natural wonderland is characterized by its mountains, steep granite cliffs, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, and lakes. It's also a sanctuary for Giant Sequoia trees and a diverse array of flora and fauna, including the American black bear and California brown bear.

Highlights

Yosemite, the first national park in the USA, was established as a grant in 1864.

The Yosemite Valley was home to the Ahwahnechee people for over 3,000 years.

In the Valley, visitors are mesmerized by the towering cliffs, forested canyons, rivers, tranquil meadows, and waterfalls.

Beyond the Yosemite Valley, engage in long hikes, visit the ancient Giant Sequoia trees, or experience the thrill of whitewater rafting.

Winter transforms Yosemite, offering ski enthusiasts pristine slopes at Badger Pass.

Must-see places include Mirror Lake, Tioga Road, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Mist Trail, and the breathtaking Glacier Point.

There is something for everyone at Yosemite

Yosemite offers a plethora of activities: hike the valley floor, marvel at the cliffs and canyons, or relax by the rivers and waterfalls.Yosemite Bridalveil Fall

Embark on challenging hikes, explore the wilderness, or enjoy leisurely bus tours to the Giant Sequoia groves.

Cycle to Mirror Lake, have a picnic, climb the cliffs, or join a whitewater rafting adventure.

Take educational ranger-led tours, visit the historic Wawona Village, backpack through the wilderness, or enjoy fishing and horseback riding.

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Swim or raft in the serene waters, and contribute to nature by volunteering in habitat restoration projects.

Yosemite Valley Merced RiverYosemite is a treasure trove of natural beauty, offering a lifetime of exploration and experiences. Whether you're planning a day trip or an extended stay, each visit unveils more of its wonders.

During my recent week-long stay, I was completely immersed in Yosemite's beauty and still yearned for more. Here's a glimpse of my adventures and some other experiences worth exploring.

For comprehensive information about Yosemite National Park, visit the official website

Getting there

Yosemite Valley Merced RiverDriving from Anaheim to Yosemite, a journey of about 8 hours, offers scenic views and a chance to explore. From San Francisco, the drive is approximately 5 hours.

The approach to Yosemite involves mountain driving with stunning vistas, especially in the final miles.

Tip: Relying solely on GPS in Yosemite can be misleading due to limited mobile Internet and one-way road systems. It's advisable to have a physical map or printed directions for navigation.

Yosemite El CapitanTraveling from Southern California, Highway 41 leads you through the Sierra Nevada foothills and into the park. The entrance fee is $20 per vehicle for a seven-day pass, with an annual pass available for $40.

For detailed driving instructions, visit TripAdvisor's guide at TripAdvisor.

Important Warning: Yosemite is bear country. Ensure no food or scented items are left in vehicles or tents. Use provided metal lockers for food storage to avoid unwanted encounters with bears.

En route to Yosemite Valley, consider stopping at the Giant Sequoia Grove and Wawona. Both offer unique experiences and are worth exploring.Yosemite Mist Trail

As you descend into Yosemite Valley, prepare to be awed by the Tunnel View vista, offering a panoramic view of the valley.

Tip: Use designated pull-outs for safe viewing and photography along the route.

Yosemite Valley MeadowThe valley floor loop road offers stunning views of the Merced River and lush meadows. There are several vista points and parking areas for visitors to enjoy the scenery.

What to do

nullIn Yosemite, the array of activities and sights is vast. Planning and booking some activities in advance is recommended. Here are some useful resources:

Tip: Yosemite has reverted to traditional place names following the resolution of the concessionaire dispute in 2019.

Consider the Grand Tour for a comprehensive overview of Yosemite Valley and its surroundings. Details are available at Travelyosemite.

Yosemite Village

Start your Yosemite journey at Yosemite Village, the heart of the park. This hub includes the Visitor Center, a well-stocked grocery store, the Ansel Adams Gallery showcasing stunning photography, a museum rich in local history, a sports shop for outdoor gear, various dining options, an ATM, and a post office.Yosemite Tuolumne River Rafting

The Visitor Center is a treasure trove of information, offering ranger-led insights, maps, books, and exhibits on Yosemite’s unique geology, diverse flora, and fauna.

Tip: For the best parking experience, aim for a spot near the grocery store in the village, particularly convenient when stocking up on essentials.

Yosemite Tuolumne Meadows Sunset

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Yosemite Valley Attractions

Yosemite Valley, the crown jewel of the park, is brimming with must-see attractions and activities:

Yosemite Stargazing

Yosemite StargazingYosemite's remote location and minimal light pollution create ideal conditions for stargazing. The park's dark skies reveal an awe-inspiring celestial display.

Astronomy enthusiasts, photographers, and visitors enjoy unparalleled views of the night sky, with opportunities to see planets, stars, and galaxies.

Top stargazing spots include Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome, Badger Pass, Cooks Meadow, Tunnel View, Cloud's Rest, Olmstead Point, Young Lakes, and El Cap Meadow.

Exploring Beyond Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Mariposa GroveWhile Yosemite Valley is a must-visit, the park's other areas offer equally stunning experiences away from the crowds.

Adventure seekers should explore Hetch Hetchy Valley and Dam, Tioga Pass, Tenaya Lake, and Tuolumne Meadows, or embark on a thrilling Whitewater Rafting trip on the Tuolumne River.

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Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Village - Map
CA 95389
(209) 372-0200

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