No matter what time of year you visit Yosemite National Park, you’ll be delighted with an abundance of activities and a striking landscape
From the crisp snows of winter to the bright greens of early spring, no matter what time of year you visit Yosemite National Park, you’ll be delighted with an abundance of activities and a striking landscape that will have you filling your camera roll! Make your base camp the historic gold-mining town of Mariposa, which is a destination in itself and provides easy access to Yosemite via Highway 140. Many of the town’s buildings are original construction from the mid-1800s! At the end of the day, duck into a pub and enjoy a relaxing drink and live entertainment.
Fall: Photography and Hiking in Yosemite Valley
September and October usher in fall weather and the awe-inspiring landscapes that go with it. These are the ideal months for outdoor photography and hiking. The Yosemite Conservancy offers unforgettable experiential travel packages such as autumn photography, full moon hiking, wildlife education excursions and backpacking to the famed Half Dome. If you’re looking for spectacular scenery and fewer crowds, plan your visit during this special time of year.
Since most Yosemite trees are evergreen, their colors won’t change in the fall. But visit in late October to see the big-leaf maples and black oaks fade to a warm autumn hue.
Winter: Skiing, Snowboarding and Snowshoeing
Yosemite is transformed into a different world in the winter. Snowfall reveals a previously hidden side of the diverse terrain, and fewer crowds mean you can take your time to explore. With a slew of seasonal activities, the park offers a true winter sports experience. Try snowshoeing, tubing or snowboarding, or enjoy the epic skiing opportunities, from backcountry to cross-country. Equipment rentals and ski lessons are available through the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area School. Even small children can join – sign them up for beginning ski lessons and make it a family experience to remember.
Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area has trails that are perfect for skiers and riders of all levels.
Spring: Whitewater Rafting on the Merced River
Warming weather and winter snowmelt mark the arrival of rafting season in Yosemite and Mariposa County, and the Merced River will float your boat whether you’re a novice paddler or an advanced rafter. Rent equipment with your travel companions for a self-guided tour, or book a package with one of several outfitters for a hassle-free adventure. Experience the rushing waters of the Merced along with the scenery of colorful wildflowers and deep green pines – it’s the original California thrill ride!
Don’t forget to look up – The Merced River in Yosemite offers incredible views of mountain peaks and flower-covered hillsides
Summer: High Country Escapes
Summer is the busiest season for Yosemite Park. Beat the crowds and feel like you’re in on a local secret with a retreat to higher (and cooler) elevations. The day hikes and backpacking treks of Tuolumne Meadows will wow you with varied terrain, beautiful lakes and waterfalls, and views of imposing domes and peaks. Fantastic trails in the Glacier Point area, from easy to strenuous, offer unparalleled views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, El Capitan, waterfalls, and other photo-worthy landmarks. After dark, you’ll be treated to a light show that only Mother Nature could make. Groups of amateur astronomers gather at Glacier Point to marvel at the stars, planets and galaxies that appear in this pristine night sky.
Some of Yosemite’s best views can only be seen by trail.
Fly into Yosemite via Fresno-Yosemite International Airport. San Francisco International Airport is a few hours away from Yosemite by car and offers more global flight options. Public transportation from both airports into Yosemite is available year-round via Amtrak, Greyhound, and YARTS (Yosemite Area Rapid Transit System). The YARTS bus system connects to major hotels and gateways into Yosemite.