There is no doubt, Yosemite National Park is one of the most breathtaking destinations The United States has to offer. The Park shows the power of nature, how a valley can be shaped by a glacier, it’s most known for its waterfalls, sequoias and the famous El Capitan. We agree that Yosemite National Park is a perfect place to relax, stretch your feet, get a breath of fresh air, it’s a paradise for those who love nature and hiking. You get 750,000 acres of pure wilderness. To plan your next adventure to Yosemite National Park here are a few essential tips.

1. When to visit Yosemite

The National Park is open all year round, but your visit depends on the activities you plan on doing. The high season is in the summertime, between July and August. If you want to escape the crowds, then the best time to visit is before or after the main season. So that means May, June or September. If winter sports are more of your thing than the best time for your visit is in the low season from November to April, most of the Park is covered with snow this time of the year.

Bear in mind that in the summer and fall the flows of the waterfalls can be very low. Summer is a great time for hiking as most of the roads open when they are free of snow. Spring is the best time to get amazing views of the waterfalls. While most of Yosemite remains snowy through May some hikes from Yosemite Valley, are often snow-free by April, nevertheless as in winter, hiking options are still limited. Fall is tricky because of the unstable weather, but you can see the leaves change their color to show the Park in beautiful colors. Take into consideration that by late November the Tioga Road and other roads can get closed. If you plan on going skiing or snowboarding, then check when Yosemite’s Badger Pass Ski Area opens.

2. Booking in advance

We can’t stress this enough, but no matter what time of year you plan on visiting, you need to book in advance. There are a variety of different options from simple tents cabins to deluxe rooms, hotels or private longings. Yosemite National Park has 13 campgrounds, in some, you can reserve your place in others they work on first-come, first-served basis, if you plan on doing this be there very early in the morning.

We stayed at the Half Dome Village in a tent, we went in the middle of April and booked our stay 4 months in advance.

3. Gear

Safety first! If you plan on going hiking great hiking boots and other hiking gear is essential. Extra layers of clothes, to be ready for warm or cold weather, and a raincoat even in the summer.

If you plan on camping, staying in a dome village or a cabin you’ll need a few other things:
– flashlight or headlamp for walks to the restrooms at night,
– showers are public, so don’t forget shoes for showering,
– containers for storing your food outside of your tent, because of Bears!!!,
– sleeping bag.

4. Eating

In Yosemite, you can find different restaurants, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you plan on cooking your food or need some snacks there are a few grocery stores around the Village. So you don’t need to worry about that.

5. Be safe

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when visiting Yosemite National Park:
– feeding or approaching wildlife can be dangerous, so keep your distance,
– dispose of trash and your food in animal-proof cans and containers, like we said Bears!!!,
– check weather and road conditions before heading on a drive or hike, so you don’t get injured,
– carry and drink water when you’re hiking,
– reed the basic information of your hikes and stay on the path.

6. Fees and passes

Entrance Fees:
Non-commercial car, valid for 7 days (with 15 or fewer passenger seats) – $35.00/31€ per car.
If you come by foot or bicycle, valid for 7 days – $20.00/18€ per person.

Entrance Passes:
Yosemite Annual Pass – $70.00/62€.
National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass – $80.00/71€.

We spent 2 days in Yosemite National Park. We manage to squeeze two hikes into our itinerary, some of the roads were closed, so we had limited options.

1. Mist Trail Hike – Vernal & Nevada Falls Trail

Hike info:
Distance and elevation: 3 miles/5 km to Vernal Waterfall and 7 miles/11 km to Nevada Waterfall; round-trip; 4,000 feet (1,200 m)
Difficulty: moderate
Approximate time: 3 hours

The Vernal and Nevada Waterfalls are two of the most magnificent waterfalls in Yosemite National Park. We suggest you head up the Mist Trail and down the John Muir Trail.
The track is partly on stairs carved out of a rock, so it’s easier for your legs to go down via John Muir Trail.

2. Yosemite Falls Trail

Hike info:
Distance and elevation: 7.6 miles (12 km); 3,967 feet (1,347 m)
Difficulty: steep
Approximate time: 7-10 hours

Yosemite Falls Trail
This hike is pretty damn hard, it can take as long as 10 hours. So you must be prepped, otherwise, your legs will shake on the way down. This trail leads you to the tallest waterfall in North America.

We can’t wait to go back 🙂 If you plan on visiting the West Coast of America check out our itinerary for 3 weeks.

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