Every season has a signature keynote in Yosemite Mariposa County. And even within each season, there are variations on the theme. Fall begins as a “fifth season,” essentially an encore of summer. As daylight begins to ebb in October and November, late autumn is a time for gathering – to garner the rewards of the harvest, celebrate one another’s company, and give thanks for those who came before and those to come. This is the perfect time for family and friends to come together and take time for reflection, repose and revelry, with winter just ahead.
Gathering is always better in an inspiring destination. With world-famous scenery, authentic Gold Country legacy and western hospitality, Yosemite Mariposa County is worthy and waiting with exceptional places to discover together. Here are just a few ideas on places and activities to gather good vibes.
Yosemite Mariposa County offers a compelling range of lodging properties to accommodate groups large and small, from multigenerational reunions to friends traveling together.
Choose sophisticated short term rental options in a rustic outdoor setting with cabins managed by Scenic Wonders.
Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders presents over 125 homes, cabins, and condominiums, many within the gates of Yosemite National Park. Yosemite West, Wawona, and Fish Camp are some of the prime locations for these exclusive vacation rentals. Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders properties can accommodate groups large and small with multi-bedroom properties under one roof, to multi-unit clusters of condos for privacy as well as proximity.
Get a view of the Merced River right outside Yosemite View Lodge – located just outside Yosemite National Park on Highway 140.
El Portal’s Yosemite View Lodge has the unique distinction of being the closest resort to Yosemite Valley that’s located outside Park gates. With most rooms having personal balconies overlooking the Wild & Scenic Merced River, it’s a great place to feel the breeze off the rushing water and gaze across the steep, rugged canyon that surrounds. There are two restaurant options and seven, yes, seven hot tub spas on property and the lodge has a nice pop of amenities including the Yosemite View Convenience Store and 120v outlets in the parking lot for EV charging.
Give everyone room to spread out when you rent the El Capitan Cabin, managed by The Redwoods In Yosemite.
Cabin life is front and center at The Redwoods at Wawona, a collection of vacation home rentals plus wedding & event center located off Chilnualna Falls Road. There are more than 120 unique Yosemite National Park cabins and spacious luxury homes on offer, many pet-friendly. Options range from cozy one-bedroom cabins to the Yosemite Luxury Estate, an eight-bedroom, seven-bath cluster of grand vacation living. Across the board, there’s more room to spread out, dine in with fully outfitted kitchens, and at many properties, effervesce in a private hot tub under the starry sky.
Find affordable lodging where everyone can have their own room at the Quality Inn – close to shopping and dining in downtown Mariposa.
Affordable, clean and cozy, the Quality Inn Yosemite Valley Gateway is a great choice for groups who want to gather together centrally at one property but still have their own room and key. Value is added with free parking, hot breakfast, WiFi, in-room coffeemakers and refrigerators, flatscreen TVs and premium bedding. A business center, seasonal outdoor pool and hot tub, laundry and copy services are also available. With its central town of Mariposa location, the Quality Inn is an easy walk to all the historic county seat has to offer with regard to dining, museums, shopping and nightlife.
The art of gathering with friends and family is enhanced by having something new to share at the end of the day. Fortunately, Yosemite Mariposa County is a place where remarkable epiphanies are on the daily menu. Yosemite National Park’s beauty is on display all around you and easily experienced between breakfast and happy hour. Here’s our short list of group-worthy local attractions:
Bridalveil Fall is one of the first wonders of the valley to greet you when you arrive in Yosemite Valley.
Bridalveil is one of Yosemite’s most heralded waterfalls, and its beauty is surpassed only by its ease of access. The newly-renovated, paved trail to the base of the fall is gentle for all as well as wheelchair accessible and pet-friendly (after all, dogs are family, too). (Note: Bridalveil Fall’s parking and viewing area is undergoing renovations and is closed to the public through 2022.)
The massive El Capitan earns its name and reputation as one of the great rock climbing challenges in the world.
The iconic granite walls of El Capitan dominate the west end of Yosemite Valley. At more than 3,000 feet above the valley floor, it’s 2.5x taller than the Empire State Building and 3x taller than the Eiffel Tower! Vista points where the views are sublime are El Capitan Meadow and the long car pullouts along Bridalveil Straight on Southside Drive.
Yosemite Falls refills with water in the late autumn providing a spectacular backdrop to fall foliage.
The tallest waterfall in North America, Yosemite Falls begins high above Yosemite Valley, gushing over the granite rim with hydro fury in the spring and summer, and recharging with the storms of fall and winter. Hiking to the top of Yosemite Falls is a signature experience but not one for the faint of heart. It’s a seven-plus mile, 2,700-foot elevation gain with thrilling Yosemite Falls and Valley vistas as the reward. Send the youthful ones up to the top while the rest can take the easy one-mile loop trail to the base of the falls.
Take a stroll out to Mirror Lake to stand beneath the magnificent Half Dome and enjoy the sand beaches.
Splendid in the fall, Mirror Lake officially becomes Mirror Meadow revealing sand bars where everyone in the group can drop their backpacks and soak up some Sierra rays. Fall group picnics are a must as Half Dome appears so close it could reach down and steal a baguette, and the brightly colored leaves along the Mirror Lake Loop (portions paved and accessible) seem to glow between the pines when the light is just right. Magic.
Bring the family to discover the giant sequoias in the Mariposa Grove, and walk through the massive center of The California Tunnel Tree.
The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is home to about 500 mature titans – talk about multigenerational! The Grizzly Giant, the tallest and oldest tree in Yosemite National Park, is 209 feet tall and estimated to be 2,700 years old. From the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza parking lot, there is a trail system geared for visitor accessibility and engagement with interpretive signposts an easy walk away.
Explore Yosemite with a knowledgeable local guide. Photo: Discover Yosemite, Inc.
For groups, caravanning together in multiple vehicles can pose logistical challenges during a day of national park discovery. The solution: book a tour! Discover Yosemite Tours is one of the Park’s leading outfitters with a stellar cast of tour guides. The Yosemite Full Day Tour is a crowd favorite, taking you to the best of the Park aboard 27-passenger mini touring buses with large picture windows and oversized, reclining seats. Smaller parties can opt for 9-passenger vans or Cadillac Escalades for touring in ultimate comfort. For more tour options, click here.
Swing by the apple orchard at Sierra Cider for a guided orchard tour and some sweet hard cider.
Sierra Cider Farm & Cidery is an 800-tree apple orchard located on Triangle Road just outside of Mariposa offering group tours, a fabulous new tasting room, team building activities, and roaming goats. Take the guided orchard tour to learn about the 19 varieties of apples growing here, a brief history of American hard cider, tales about the local wildlife, and lively storytelling. This is a fantastic place to press into your itinerary.
Iconic destinations like Yosemite have the power of place to inspire unforgettable memories that, over time, become woven into the family narrative. Whether gathering around a crackling fire pit or a fully-laden dinner table, sharing stories of the day in Yosemite Mariposa County or anticipating the next day’s tours and tales, this is a place where family and friends can celebrate kinship and community – today and forever. Cheers!
To explore lodging options, things to do and places to eat, visit Yosemite.com, the #1 trip planning site for vacations to Yosemite National Park and historic Mariposa County. To stay up to date, follow @YosemiteNation on social media and subscribe to our newsletter, “The Wanderer”. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for great videos on the people and places of Yosemite Mariposa County.
Autumn in Yosemite Mariposa County is the season locals wait for all year for its fine weather and quiet forests. It’s a great time to get away to the mountains with the kids (or maybe just sneak off on your own!)
Gather in Yosemite in October and November to celebrate the season of giving with a fine harvest of sights and experiences. Find tips on where to stay and what to see during this golden season in Yosemite.
Savor late summer and early fall in Yosemite Mariposa County. This stretch between Labor Day and Thanksgiving is its own luxuriant season in the Sierra. Discover all there is to see and do in Yosemite Mariposa County during this time.