Head to the Yosemite Valley to enjoy ranger-led hikes, nature talks, and evening star programs. Book a guided tour to ensure that you see all the top sights; opt for guided hiking, backpacking, or camping adventure; or take a photography class.
There are also tours to Yosemite from San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Lake Tahoe. These run anywhere from half-day trips to week-long tours, and many combine a trip to the Yosemite Valley with stops at other nearby attractions, such as the giant sequoias and Alcatraz. For a bird’s-eye view of the valley, check out a flightseeing tour.
Recent reviews from experiences in Yosemite National Park
Things to Know Before You Go
You’ll have to pay an admission fee to visit Yosemite National Park; tickets are good for seven days. If you take the YART shuttles to the park, your shuttle ticket will include free entrance to the park.
Don’t forget sturdy hiking shoes, rain gear, sunscreen, a hat, and a backpack for day hikes.
The Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Fall hikes are paved and wheelchair accessible.
Accommodations at the park range from campgrounds to distinctive, upscale hotels.
Campers usually prepare their own meals in the park, but the valley also boasts a variety of restaurants.
How to Get There
The Yosemite Valley is located in the western Sierra Nevada mountains, about 190 miles (306 kilometers) east of San Francisco. To reach the Yosemite Valley by car from the Bay Area, take I-580 east, continue onto I-205 east, merge onto I-5 north, and then take CA-120 east to Yosemite Ave. You can also reach the park via public transportation: Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses run to the town of Merced where you can hop on a YARTS shuttle to Yosemite. A free shuttle provides transportation within the park.
When to Get There
Peak tourist season at Yosemite Valley runs from early June through the end of August, so visit in the spring or fall if you want to avoid the largest crowds. The valley is at its most dramatic in late spring, when the waterfalls are at their fullest. Whenever you choose to visit, make sure to start your days early; sunrise is one of the best times to capture photos of the iconic sights.
Best Yosemite Valley Day Hikes
If you only have time for one hike in Yosemite Valley, take the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls. If you have more time, hike to Half Dome and climb to the summit with the help of handrails embedded into the rock. The 14- to 16-mile (22- to 26-kilometer) round-trip hike is strenuous in spots, but it's well worth it for the fantastic panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra.
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