Yosemite in summer is well-known for incredible waterfalls, massive granite domes, and endless outdoor activities. Yosemite is indeed a paradise – which is why millions flock to enjoy it every year and they are mostly coming in June, July and August. Here are our top tips to enjoy Yosemite and Mariposa County in summer:
Seek Higher Ground – Yosemite is 95% wilderness, which means most people flowing into the Valley only see a fraction of the park. Head to the sub-alpine regions of the park for incredible trails and some of the best views of the Valley from above. Check out great hikes in the Tuolumne Meadows area of the park, off Tioga Pass. Hikes such as May Lake and Mount Hoffmann or North Dome offer great views.
Leave the Car at the Hotel – We all love the freedom of having a vehicle but for visits to Yosemite in summer, this means searching for parking. Instead take the YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transit System). With affordable rates (including buy one, get one for children) you can focus on the scenery and not the road. There are several hotels outside the western entrance to the park that offer pick up right outside the door.
Enjoy the Neighborhoods – Yosemite is the main draw for most travelers but the gateways towns neighboring the park have a lot to offer in the way of history and activities. In Mariposa, you can delve into Gold Rush history, enjoy stagecoach rides through the historic parts of town and even go to a zipline ranch that will have you soaring above the Sierra Foothills.
Go with a Guide – Most people traveling to the Valley in summer make a beeline for the Visitor Center in Yosemite to plan their itinerary, which can get crowded and take up valuable trail time. Instead book a tour in advance with a naturalist or other guide and get the information you need while enjoying the trails. Or plan to visit the Visitor Center in your gateway (if staying outside Yosemite National Park) rather than at the Valley Floor. These centers often have extended hours and can give you lot’s of great ideas to enjoy your visit.
Start Early and Leave Late – Most visitors in summer are staying outside the Valley and traveling in daily to enjoy the scenery. Also tour buses come heading into Yosemite for just a few hours tend to hit around midday. These factors contribute to traffic being heaviest between 9:00am-5:00pm. Plan to start your day very early and leave late. You’ll get the added benefit of seeing park early in the morning or at twilight, when the park is especially beautiful!
And our best tip? Plan to visit again from September – April. The park is open year round and each season offers something special; from waterfalls in spring, to changing leaves in autumn, and tons of winter activities, you’ll enjoy a whole new experience with every season.
There are a number of amazing lodging choices in Yosemite Mariposa County that can all make your stay a memorable one, but one that certainly should not be overlooked when you’re booking your next trip are bed-and-breakfasts.
Yosemite and Mariposa County are ideal places to take in the Perseid Meteor Shower through mid-August due to the area’s naturally dark skies. Here is our guide on where to take in the show.
Hiking in the winter in Yosemite is an other-worldly experience that should not be missed. Make sure you’re having the most enjoyable Yosemite hiking experience with these tips!