North America Adventure

Traveling to Yosemite: The Best and Worst Seasons 

  • GPS location: 37° -51' -46.56"N 119° 32' 5.63"W
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If you are planning on traveling to Yosemite National Park, there is no denying that you will be astounded by its beauty. This park is open year-round and is located in California’s beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. While many know this national park for its ancient sequoia tress and Yosemite, there is actually a lot more to explore in this beautiful National Park. A lot. In fact, Yosemite National Park spans over 1,169 square miles. While people frequent the park throughout the entire year, there are certain times that are better for visiting the park than others. Your experience at Yosemite can actually be highly dependent on the season. Before you book your tickets and plan your trip, take a look at the best and the worst seasons for visiting Yosemite National Park and get a better idea of what to expect when you travel.

Traveling to Yosemite in the Winter

Travel to Yosemite in the winter and it will seem like a completely different place than it does in the warmer months. This is a great time of year to visit Yosemite if you don’t love big crowds and a great opportunity to take in the wildlife in the snowy wilderness. In fact, there is nothing quite like sipping hot chocolate and warming up next to a large fire along beautiful snow-covered Yosemite. All four of the campgrounds located throughout Yosemite National Park stay open in the winter, and spaces are available at a much cheaper price. It is much easier to find accommodations and to explore the park undisturbed in the winter time, and you will still find plenty of “pros” involving your stay during this time.

Pros

Visiting Yosemite is the perfect time for winter activities like snow skiing and winter hikes. While it is cold there, it isn’t unbearable so you can still enjoy plenty of outdoor hikes and activities. It is also a great time to see wildlife that may otherwise be shy during higher tourist seasons.

Cons

There are some cons to visiting Yosemite in the winter, including the fact that some of the main roads including Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove and Tioga are typically closed to the public.

Yosemite during Winter by Dhaval Patel
Yosemite during Winter by Dhaval Patel

Traveling to Yosemite in the Spring

After a long winter, taking a trip to Yosemite in the spring can be a great way to feel refreshed and enjoy some beautiful wildlife (and plant life) in Yosemite. In general, crowds are smaller in spring than they are in summer and fall. Depending on the time of year and the weather, you can typically take advantage of popular fall activities, like camp fires and summer fun such as biking and horseback riding. Photo by @dhavalilama Once you start to get into later April, the crowds may begin to gather, and some of the campsites do tend to fill up, so make sure to be prepared.

Pros

This is a great time to visit the waterfalls such as Vernal, Bridalveil and Nevada falls. During this time of year, the dogwoods will be in peak bloom as well, making it a truly picturesque experience.

Cons

While many areas of the park are undoubtedly beautiful in the spring, there are some areas that won’t open up until the very end of spring. In fact Glacier Point and Tioga areas won’t open until the end of May.

Yosemite in the Spring - Adobe Stock Image
Yosemite in the Spring - Adobe Stock Image

Traveling to Yosemite in the Summer

While the idea of a summer vacation always has a nice ring to it, if your holiday plans include Yosemite, this isn’t the best time of year to visit. Yosemite gets very crowded during this time of year, and if you are planning on soaking up the wilderness, taking photos or finding some peace and quiet, this isn’t the time of  year to do it. Photo by @dhavalilama

Pros

There are a lot of activities you can do in Yosemite in the summer and the weather can be quite nice. Try golfing, hiking or horseback riding during this time of year.

Cons

The crowds. It is also notoriously difficult to find accommodations or places in the campgrounds during this time of year.

Yosemite in the Summer - Adobe Stock Image
Yosemite in the Summer - Adobe Stock Image

Traveling to Yosemite in the Fall

If you are looking for our top pic on the absolute best time to visit Yosemite, the fall takes the cake. This is the perfect blend of the peace and quiet of the winter and the access to activities in the summer.

Pros

This is the perfect blend of good weather and fewer visitors and the park stays accessible throughout most of the season. Try art classes, hiking or rock climbing during this time of year and take in some beautiful fall foliage. There are also a lot of programs and events hosted throughout the fall in the park as well.

Cons

There aren’t many cons of visiting Yosemite in the fall. However, if taking in the waterfalls is on your bucket list, then this isn’t the best time to do it. You will have better luck during other seasons.

 

No matter which season you choose to visit Yosemite, there are a few things that always hold true—the price. The park entry is $20 per car and your pass is good for seven days, plenty of time to explore this beautiful national park. Individuals age 62 and older are also eligible for the Golden Age National Parks Pass which is just $10. Not in a car? If you live close and plan on making repeat visits to the park, you can get one of the annual passes. The first is a Yosemite Year Pass for $40. For just $50 you can get an Annual National Parks Pass to visit all of the national parks across the country. Not in a car? Not a problem. Anyone who wants to enter the park by foot, motorcycle or horse can enter the premises for seven days for just $10. No matter when, how long or how you prefer to visit, experiencing this park is truly a must for anyone who wants to get in touch with nature.

Yosemite during Fall by Dhaval Patel
Yosemite during Fall by Dhaval Patel

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