Travel Rankings & Advice

Tips on What To Do in Yosemite

Of the 3.5 million people who visit Yosemite annually, about 95 percent never leave the Yosemite Valley, which is only about one percent of the total park. But within that one percent is some of the most iconic natural landscape in the United States: The towering Yosemite Falls, the famous Half Dome monolith and a wide array of expansive meadows, rock faces and hiking trails. To avoid the crowds, try the less famous but still remarkable sights to the north of the Valley. On the western side, you can view the giant sequoia trees near Hetch Hetchy or, to the east, hike or fish in Tuolumne Meadows. To the south of the Valley you'll find Glacier Point, a high-elevation area from which you can view the Yosemite Valley and a series of towering rock formations, including Half Dome, a very popular site for tourists.

  • The haughty profile of Half Dome, the hulking presence of El Capitan, the drenching mists of Yosemite Falls, the gemstone lakes of the high country's subalpine wilderness, the giant sequoias of Wawona, Hetch Hetchy's pristine pathways. These and other unforgettable sights pretty much guarantee that you'll be storing memories by the gigabyte." -- Lonely Planet
  • Of course, Yosemite offers more than just hiking. Depending on the season, activities could include rock climbing, rafting, snowboarding, or fishing. You can even take an outdoor watercolor class offered by the park's Art Activity Center." -- OutTraveler.com
  • The falls at Yosemite are at their most spectacular in May and June. By the end of summer some will have dried up. They begin flowing again in late fall with the first storms, and in winter they may be hung with ice, a dramatic sight." -- Fodor's


Yosemite has plenty to offer when it comes to hiking, with more than 800 miles of trails, many of which are open year-round. Be sure to follow the rules set by the U.S. National Park Service, and do not hike off designated trails unless you're very familiar with the park's terrain.

  • Vernal Fall in Yosemite. A must-see for anyone with the stamina. It's just 3 miles round-trip if you follow the Mist Trail, but it requires a strong heart and enough gumption to make the last quarter-mile, ascending 500 stairs." -- Frommer's
  • Mist Trail. You'll walk through rainbows when you visit 317-foot Vernal Fall. The hike to the bridge at the base of the fall is moderately strenuous and less than 1 mi long. It's another steep (and often wet) ¾-mi grind up to the top." -- Fodor's


It's easier than you think to camp in Yosemite. With an abundance of camping spots -- many of which are first-come, first-served -- you can enjoy the outdoors in Yosemite, without the hassle of reservations or hefty hotel fees. Just be sure to follow all of Yosemite's camping regulations, including the important rule about bringing a bear-proof food container.

  • Many people erroneously believe that Yosemite camping reservations are needed for all spots and far in advance. In summer, about 400 Yosemite camping sites are available on a 'first come, first served' basis with no reservations needed, and in winter, only half of the 500 open Yosemite camping sites require reservations." -- About.com


There is nightlife in Yosemite, but it's not the kind you'd expect. No backwoods dance clubs or bars (none that we know of, anyway). But nights in Yosemite can offer some of the most rewarding outdoor experiences of your stay. So be sure to stay awake for at least part of nightfall.

  • Here, you will most likely find yourself singing around a campfire, taking a moonlit hike or even going to bed early in order to get up after midnight to do some stargazing." -- Travel Channel
  • In summer, Night Prowl (90 minutes, $5) takes you along easy trails near Yosemite Lodge at Yosemite Falls, explaining the nightlife of the inhabitants of the valley floor. This fun guided tour welcomes children and adults.." -- Moon Travel Guides

Winter Sports

Winter sports are a great way to enjoy Yosemite, especially in the Badger Pass Ski Area, where you can enjoy alpine and cross country skiing. Also be sure to check out their monthly events, including the annual Nordic Holiday Race and Spring Fest.

  • Skiing and snowshoeing activities in the park center on Badger Pass Ski Area, California's oldest snow-sports resort. .... Here you can rent equipment, take a lesson, have lunch, join a guided excursion, and take the free shuttle back to the valley after a drink in the lounge." -- Fodor's
  • If you want to get into the high country, try an overnight hut trip to Glacier Point or Ostrander Lake. For even more solitude, bring your tent and snow-camp under the stars." -- Away.com
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