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Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View, Visit Yosemite

Yosemite Valley Tunnel View, © Can Stock / cannikon

Visit Yosemite Village

Visit Yosemite Village Visitor Center & Museum. Take the free shuttle around the Yosemite Valley. Hike around the valley floor and cross the Swinging Bridge, which doesn’t really swing. There are several Yosemite National Park hotels and campgrounds in this small area where the Yosemite Valley ends up against the granite range of peaks.

Upper Yosemite Falls, Visit Yosemite

Upper Yosemite Falls, © Can Stock / javarman

Visit Yosemite – El Capitan

View the imposing granite surface of El Capitan from the meadows near Yosemite Village. You can easily spot climbers from the Valley floor as they climb its 3,000 foot vertical face. Watch them transverse the King Swing by using their ropes as a pendulum to latch on to the next section of the Nose on their way to the top.

Upper Yosemite Falls View, Merced River, Visit Yosemite

Upper Yosemite Falls View, © Can Stock / Feverpitched

Climbing teams take 3 to 5 days to go up the face of El Capitan on a one way trip to the top. At night they seek ledges to bivouac upon. The climbers harness in to their sleeping bags for the night. Free solo climbers, without ropes, can cover the entire route in under 3 hours. Check out videos of Alex Honnold to see his amazing free solo climbs in Yosemite.

Glacier Point view to Royal Arches, Yosemite Valley, Visit Yosemite

Glacier Point view to Royal Arches, Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Falls

Hike Yosemite National Park to the Lower Yosemite Falls in 15 minutes or Upper Yosemite Falls on a 7 hour round trip hike from Yosemite Village. Remember the waterfalls both run dry in autumn, so plan to visit Yosemite in the spring if you hope to see the falls in action. The Upper Yosemite Falls hike has some very steep drops when you reach the viewpoint above the falls. Also visit Mirror Lake on Tenaya Creek to catch views of Half Dome. Follow the trail from the Lower Falls to Mirror Lake or catch a free shuttle and reduce this Yosemite Hike time to a few minutes. Mirror Lake drains dry by the fall.

Half Dome, Yosemite Valley View, Visit Yosemite

Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, © Can Stock / jul88

You can climb Half Dome on a 12 hour Yosemite hike from the Yosemite Valley floor. Half Dome is a granite mountain that appears to be sheared in half. A permit is required to ascend. Be prepared for lots of people on the one hour steep section, where two steel cables are used to climb to the top.

For a shorter hike on this trail, stop at Vernal Falls or Nevada Falls. The trail follows the Merced River. The Vernal Falls hike is 3 hours round trip. Nevada Falls is a 6 hour hike. Together they form the Giant Staircase. Start any of these three Yosemite hikes at Yosemite Village. All three hikes follow the same trail.

Visit Yosemite Valley

Visit Yosemite Valley

Visit Yosemite – Camping & Hotels

  • Camp in the park – reservations are necessary and can be made a year in advance.
  • Stay at a lodge in the park. These include Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, Ahwahnee, House Keeping Camp, Wawona Hotel and Curry Village. Be prepared for older buildings that don’t necessarily have much charm.
  • Commute to the park from El Portal, Oakhurst or Mariposa
  • Stay at Tenaya Lodge which is located just outside the southern park boundary.
Half Dome from Glacier Point, Visit Yosemite

Half Dome from Glacier Point, © Can Stock / cannikon

Visit Yosemite – Tunnel View

The Wawona Road Tunnel View is about 15 minutes by car from Yosemite Village. If you approach Yosemite through Tunnel View you can catch the classic view of the Yosemite Valley, including El Capitan, the Bridalveil Fall and Half Dome in the distance. The Wawona Road Tunnel View parking lot is at the immediate east end of the tunnel with easy access from either direction. Also visit Bridalveil Fall in this area. The Bridalveil Fall is about a 20 minute hike from its parking lot.

Tuolumne Meadows, Visit Yosemite

Tuolumne Meadows

Toulume Meadows

Drive the Tioga Road on Highway 120 through Tuolumne Meadows, over the 9,943 foot summit at Tioga Pass. Then descend to Mono Lake in the state of Nevada. The Pass is open from June to October, depending on snowfall. Stop at the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, the Wilderness Center or Tioga Pass Resort along the way.

Glacier Point view of Yosemite Valley, Visit Yosemite

Glacier Point View, © Can Stock / CelsoDinizUSA

Glacier Point

Don’t miss Glacier Point when you visit Yosemite. It’s a highlight of any trip to Yosemite. You can get to Glacier Point by vehicle from June to October on Glacier Point Road. The road travels over Badger Pass, south of the Wawona Road Tunnel. The distance is about one hour by car from the Yosemite Valley. Tours are available from Yosemite Lodge. Tours give you the option to hike back to Yosemite Valley. Those with more energy can get to Glacier Point from Yosemite Village without a car by hiking up 3,000 feet past Sentinel Dome to Glacier Point.

Bachelor & Three Graces, Mariposa Grove, Sequoia, Visit Yosemite

Bachelor & Three Graces, Mariposa Grove, Visit Yosemite

Mariposa Grove

The Mariposa Grove of sequoia trees is one hour south of the Yosemite Village, near the park’s South Entrance. You can reach Mariposa Grove by car between May and October, depending on snowfall. Tours can also be arranged from Yosemite Valley. Stop about 15 minutes south of the grove for a meal at Tenaya Lodge or spend the night.

Get to Yosemite

There are no major airports near Yosemite. Take a 3.5 hour drive from San Francisco International Airport to get to Yosemite National Park.

Swinging Bridge, Yosemite Valley, Visit Yosemite

Swinging Bridge, Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Weather

The Yosemite weather in summer makes it the most popular time to visit Yosemite. Summer temperatures are hot and there is little rainfall. May and June are excellent for viewing waterfalls due to spring runoff. November to April has heavy snowfall and road closures, but Yosemite Valley is open all year to vehicles. Most people visit the park from June through September.

Yosemite Valley View, Visit Yosemite

Yosemite Valley View

Visit Yosemite – Background

Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular parks in the United States. The park is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains above the central valley of California. Yosemite became a World Heritage site in 1984. The park is roughly the size of Rhode Island, but the main visitor area is about 7 square miles in the Yosemite Valley. The large granite mountains have been shaped by ice age glaciers into magnificent peaks, valleys and waterfalls. The park first became popular because of photography by Ansel Adams.

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