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.
When the sun goes down and the waterfalls are rushing in Yosemite, an amazing experience takes place when the Yosemite Moonbow comes out at night.
Whether it’s taking a walk in the crisp, fresh air to count your blessings, or photographing Half Dome floating like gold in the still waters of Mirror Lake, reflections abound in Yosemite National Park.
El Portal may seem to be a sleepy little town along Highway 140 just outside the Yosemite National Park gate, but there are loads of fun activities and surprises for all ages to be found on and off the beaten track.