Bucket List Adventures: Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
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- The Wonder
Yosemite Valley's gorgeous vistas, towering granite walls and pristine, snow-melt waterfalls taller than skyscrapers.
- The Adventures
Conquering Half Dome, hiking, biking, camping, climbing, fishing, horseback riding, ranger programs, tram tours, winter sports.
- One for the Bucket List
For expert climbers: conquering Half Dome. For everyone else: dancing under the mist of Yosemite's waterfalls. Sparkling and pure, the pouring snow-melt rushes 2,425 ft. down Yosmemite Falls and pounds the rocks on the valley floor with enough force to create gusts of mist. Head to the bridge overlook of Lower Yosemite Falls and you'll be soaked in ice-cold droplets within seconds. For a slightly less breezy washdown, but much more thorough drenching, enjoy a showering near Bridalveil Falls, where wind usually whips the falls' mist into its namesake veil, which rains down on a much broader section of the valley floor -- much like a tropical sunshower.
To see the waterfalls during their peak runoff, visit in May and June -- by August most of the falls are gone, even Yosemite Falls. Bridalveil, Vernal and Nevada Falls usually flow all year, even in the driest months (though sometimes at a trickle).
- Seasons and Hours
Although Yosemite's open year-round, snow and weather usually prevent access to many areas of the park from as early as late October until as late as mid-May. Yosemite Valley, which includes Yosemite Village and the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, is accessible by car all year.
- Getting There
Take Highways 120 or 140 from the west, Highway 120 from the east, or Highway 41 from the south (which is the primary entrance). Once in the park, you can expect to drive up to an hour or more on winding, albeit well-paved roads to reach the Yosemite Valley floor. See map.
Definitely have your car checked before making the trip, as the roads in the park can rise to elevations up to 6,000 ft. and can greatly increase the risk of engines overheating. There are plenty of pull-outs along the way.
Oddly, there are a number of shuttles within certain areas of the park, but no shuttle system that operates throughout the park. For instance, there is no shuttle from the main south entrance to Yosemite Valley, but there is a shuttle within Yosemite Valley itself. For information about public transportation into areas of the park, please check the YARTS website.
The best place to stock up within the park is at the Wawona market, which is about six miles from the south entrance, or at the market in Yosemite Village in Yosemite Valley.
Average Temps (ºF) High/Low
(For Yosemite Valley, elevation 4,000 ft.)
January - 49/26
April - 65/35
July - 90/54
October - 74/39
Approximate Distance From...
(To Yosemite Village)
Fresno, CA - 90 miles
Sequoia National Park - 130 miles
San Francisco, CA - 190 miles
Los Angeles, CA - 300 miles
Las Vegas, NV - 400 miles
Fill Your Bucket List With Bewilderness
America the beautiful. You got that right. From the skytops of the world's tallest trees to the underwater color-play of tropical reefs, the National Park Service (NPS) oversees hundreds of parks and areas to conserve many of our country's most precious natural wonders.
Fewer than half of the national parks charge entrance fees, which usually range from $5 to $25 (often just per vehicle). Children 16 and under are always admitted for free. Daily fees for camping usually range between $10 and $20 per party.
If you're planning on visiting multiple parks, the NPS also offers America the Beautiful Passes that cover entrance fees at any national park.
- More National Park Adventures
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