Yosemite Valley is home to 761,000 acres of gorgeous rock formations and some of the highest waterfalls in the world. Our breathtaking mountain ranges offer opportunities for rock climbing, hiking, camping, bird watching, and a host of other fun activities for adventure seekers.
Beware, though, the climate here changes rapidly so visitors should come prepared to adapt to a variety of temperature variations in a short period of time. Here are some tips to keep you safe and comfortable during your visit to the valley.
1. Keep an eye on the forecast. Naturally you’ll want to check current weather conditions before venturing out, but don’t forget to also take a look at temperature and rainfall predictions for the hours and days ahead. There are several smartphone apps that let you track weather watches and warnings in real time, and some weather tracking websites will even send alerts directly to your phone. You can even view live conditions on any of the four Yosemite Conservancy webcams. Always call to check road conditions before you enter the park by calling (209) 372-0200 press 1, then 1.
2. Know your elevation. The higher you go, the colder it gets, so if you plan to hike to scenic locations like Tuolumne Meadows (8,600 feet), expect the air to be at least 20 degrees colder than where you started. Make sure you take plenty of water to keep you hydrated and stay alert for signs of altitude sickness.
3. Know your seasons. Summer doesn’t automatically mean hot, sunny, and dry in the valley, although that’s a very common weather forecast. Storm clouds often appear suddenly and drench the area in quick downpours, complete with thunder, lightening, and even hail. Winter may bring unrelenting snow, especially at higher elevations, that quickly raise the snow depths to several feet over the course of a few days. The National Park Service has a great overview of what kind of weather to expect in our area throughout the year, so be sure to check it out as you plan your trip. Also, don’t forget your sunscreen! Whether skiing in the winter or hiking in the spring, summer, or fall, you run the risk of sunburn. Insect repellent is also a must, especially while hiking at higher elevations.
4. Dress for success. Unless you’re only visiting the valley for a few hours and don’t plan to stray very far from your car, always keep an extra layer of clothing on hand. At certain times of the year, it’s not uncommon for temps to drop 25 degrees or more by nightfall, so the comfy running shorts you wear all day may not be enough to keep the chill away once the sun sets.
If you’re camping or plan to stay in the area for a day or more, it’s a good idea to pack several changes of clothes of varying weights to accommodate drastic temperature changes. Running or workout clothes that wick away moisture are great for keeping you dry and regulating your body temperature.
5. Plan a smart campsite. Campers will want to take some extra precautions against the weather.
● Pitch your tent before at home and give it a trial run to check for leaks and tears that could quickly ruin your trip.
● If you’re visiting the valley during the colder months, make sure your sleeping bag is rated for the temperatures you expect to encounter.
● Don’t forget to pack waterproof matches to start a warming campfire and keep an extra set of hats and gloves on hand for added protection against the elements.
6. Don’t take chances. Even the most experienced hikers and campers can be caught off guard by Mother Nature so keep your visit as safe as possible by not pushing your limits. If you get tired, cold, or wet it’s best to call it a day and head back to your car rather than risk weather exposure that you’re unprepared to manage. It’s better to cut your visit short and come back during better weather than to tough it out and have an unpleasant time.
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