The summer season is fast approaching which means family vacations are in the works. With children out of school for summer, why not visit a National Park? Yosemite is full of fun family activities throughout the summer months including hikes, camping and beautiful waterfalls. But what about outside of the park? Did you know that close-by Mariposa county offers additional family fun with the Mariposa Museum and History Center, the California State Mining and Mineral Museum, as well as horseback riding? Check out our full list of things to do in Yosemite in the summer.
There’s nothing quite like hiking in Yosemite in the summer. The views from any trail are both captivating and awe-inspiring. Not sure where to begin? How about our guide to Yosemite Summer Hikes, which lets you filter by region to find the next perfect trek for your Yosemite summer trip. You never know which off-the-beaten-path trail you’ll discover.
Take, for instance, the trail at Hite Cove, an area rich with history and natural beauty situated between Midpines and El Portal. This mostly flat popular hike winds along the Merced River for 7.2 miles and ends near the remains of the old Hite Mine.
There’s also the eight-mile round trip hike that begins at Briceburg Bridge and takes you past old bridge ruins, a few hills and lots of wildlife. In August, this hike is particularly enjoyable for native plant lovers. The hills become covered in fragrant yellow tarweed flowers that are members of the sunflower family, Asteraceae.
Thanks to spectacular weather, getting around Yosemite in summer is a snap, especially if you consider some of
our public transportation options. Avoid traffic and parking throughout the valley by taking YARTS, especially if you’re staying in Mariposa, Midpines, Fish Camp or El Portal. These buses provide regular transportation into the park from the various gateway communities. You won’t regret leaving the car behind when you’re granted the freedom to be distracted by jaw-dropping scenery as you travel into the park. Bonus: bus fare includes a park entrance fee.
That being said, if driving your own vehicle works best for you, save some of the hassle by knowing where to park once you’re here. Yosemite Valley is home to three major parking lots that serve as leaping off points for those looking to bike, hike or catch shuttles within the park. These include Yosemite Village Parking Lot, Yosemite Falls Parking Lot and Half Dome Parking Lot. Pro tip: arrive as early as possible, as these lots fill up quickly and tend to stay full all day.
Perhaps the best way to see the Yosemite Valley is by bike. You can rent bikes at the Yosemite Valley Lodge Bike Stand, which operates daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. You can find the bike stand at shuttle bus stop #8 next to the Yosemite Valley Lodge.
Always spectacular, the Mariposa Grove reopened in 2018 following a three-year rehabilitation project that created a more welcoming entrance to the sequoia grove as well as boardwalks to protect the trees’ shallow root systems. Home to approximately 500 mature giant sequoias, walking through the grove connects you to trees that have lived for hundreds or thousands of years. These are among the rarest living organisms in the world, so if you’re visiting Yosemite in summer, do not miss the chance to visit Mariposa Grove.
During the peak season of summer hotels and motels, cabin rentals, bed and breakfasts and even camping and campgrounds fill up fast. Plan far in advance for any accommodations within the park boundaries and if your spontaneity does not allow that, be sure to check out excellent options in the surrounding regions. In Mariposa for example, you’ll not only escape crowds but be able to enjoy the charming & historic town with its restaurants, shops, grocers and more. There is even an outdoor farmer’s market every Wednesday, May 16 through November 5pm-6:30pm off of Sixth Street.
To filter your prospective accommodations by region, budget, pet-friendliness and more, head over to our lodging page.
A word of caution to would-be campers: most campsites require advance reservations and are often booked six months prior to a stay. When campsites are unavailable, don’t give up hope for your dream getaway and instead check out our guide to alternative lodging.
Slow down and spend the day at Tenaya Lake – a beautiful and easy-to-get-to alpine lake cupped by granite domes. There is plenty to see and do right here, from kayaking on the water to climbing the magnificent domes above.
Discover the ‘other’ domes in Yosemite Mariposa County. From Sentinel Dome to Lembert Dome, there is plenty to explore and love beyond the famous Half Dome.
Discover Yosemite’s hidden gems. If you’re looking for some quieter Yosemite Mariposa County destinations, we’ve got just what you’re looking for.