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Guide to Yosemite National Park

For your next wilderness adventure, check out our Yosemite National Park travel guide.

yosemite national park

Is the park open year-round?

 Yes, Yosemite National Park is open all year. Some roads are closed in the winter, and some entrances are not manned for the entire day in the offseason.

Where is the park located?

 Yosemite National Park is in east-central California.

How big is the park?

 The park covers approximately 1,169 square miles.

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How do I get around in the park?

 Most visitors drive their own cars and campers into the park. In addition, the park operates various shuttles around the Yosemite Valley as well as to trailheads, visitor centers and viewing areas.

What activities are available?

 Some of the popular activities in a Yosemite National Park travel guide include:

    • Rock climbing: Yosemite is rightly known as a climber’s playground. The wide variety of climbing opportunities – from the crack climbs of the Merced River Canyon to the multiday climbs in the Yosemite Valley to the iconic Half Dome wall – enable every enthusiast to find his or her dream climb.
    • Backpacking and hiking: Yosemite National Park contains over 750 miles of trails to explore. Whether visitors are seeking a short walk, a day hike, or a multiday trek, there are a wide variety of backpacking and hiking experiences. Permits are required for overnight hikes. Yosemite also sees numerous through hikers who are doing the Pacific Crest Trail or John Muir Trail, as both trails go through the park.
    • Birdwatching: More than 165 bird species migrate through or breed in the park, and 100 additional species are known to visit from time to time. Birdwatchers can go out on their own, or they can join the Yosemite Conservancy for a guided expedition.
    • Winter sports: When the winter arrives and snow blankets the ground, Yosemite National Park becomes a haven for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Downhill skiing is also available at the oldest such ski center in California, Yosemite Downhill Ski & Snowboard Area.
    • Guided tours: Some guests prefer guided tours of the park, allowing the experts to share their knowledge. The park guides lead groups to various parts of Yosemite National Park, including the valley floor, Glacier Point, and Tuolumne Meadows.

yosemite national park

Are pets allowed?

Pets are permitted only in the developed areas of the park: some campgrounds, paved roads and developed areas. They are not allowed in the backcountry or on trails.

Is the park accessible?

There are paved recreational trails in the park that are accessible. In additional several of the hotel and campgrounds have accessible facilities.

What accommodations are available?

Lodging in Yosemite National Park ranges from deluxe rooms in The Majestic Yosemite Hotels to comfortable motor inns to numerous campgrounds and rustic backcountry cabins. As with most national parks, reservations are strongly recommended for all types of accommodations, particularly during the summer months.

Are there restaurants in the park?

Dining options in the park include fine and casual restaurants throughout the park as well as several grocery stores. Picnicking is popular as well, though as in all wilderness areas, guests must be vigilant about storing their food in bear-proof containers and removing all trash from the park.

What are the most popular areas of the park?

    • Yosemite Valley: Though constituting only a small fraction of the entire park, this seven square miles is the destination for most tourists in Yosemite. The high cliffs and waterfalls, along with the visitor center and other museums and information centers, are all easy to see from the road.
    • Mariposa Grove: This area has the most examples of mature sequoia trees in the park.
    • Hetch Hetchy: This quiet northwest corner of the park boasts Yosemite’s longest hiking season. Many visitors to Hetch Hetchy seek the tranquility and solitude this area provides, away from the better-known attractions of the Yosemite Valley.
    • Waterfalls: Yosemite National Park is home to several well-known waterfalls. Like most waterfall, they are most spectacular in the spring and early summer when they are fed by the melting snow from the mountains. Some of the most popular are Yosemite Falls, Sentinel Falls and Bridalveil Fall. Horsetail Fall provides a special show in late February; the setting sun reflects off the water, giving the falls the appearance of being on fire.
    • Rock formations: Some of the most iconic scenes from Yosemite National Park include its rock formations: Half Dome, El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, Sentinel Rock and Glacier Point.

Which national park would you like to visit most? Is Yosemite National Park on your list? Tell us in the comments.

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