What are the best things to do at Yosemite National Park?
Let’s find out:
Table of Contents
- Overnight backpacking trips
- Winter Ski
- Virtual historic tour
- Yosemite paint & wine
- Sunday brunch
- Camping at Lower Pines
- Stop at Curry Village or Yosemite Village for a snack
- High Sierra Camp
- Full-moon bike ride
- Hiking or fishing
- Frequently Asked Questions
Public Relations, Aramark Leisure
This year marks the 150 Anniversary of the Yosemite Mountaineering School. Since 1960, guides have taken climbers to some of the highest peaks in the park. For this anniversary, Yosemite is offering a new “Adventure Hike” — a personalized, guided hike that includes climbs and backpacking into the wilderness.
Local experts in the heart of Yosemite make the guided hikes very special. “Even the most popular trails are more enjoyable when you have someone who lives there that can tell you about the places that you are hiking –and possibly help carry your water too,” said the expert guide.
The Adventure Hikes are limited to a group of 7 people and the hike covers roughly 6-8 miles in a 6-hour period. Limited to this summer only.
Overnight backpacking trips
Beyond rock climbing, the school offers guided overnight backpacking trips to Glacier Point—maybe not climb the Dawn Wall but you will definitely be in awe of El Capitan!
The Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area have miles of groomed trails for cross country skiers and a terrain park for skiers and boarders in addition to being a great place just to learn to downhill ski.
Virtual historic tour
For something to do inside the hotel, this tour gives visitors the technology to self-tour and discover information such as history of the National Park Service and of The Ahwahnee Hotel, architecture, interior design, Yosemite’s Firefall, fun hotel facts and stories. They use an iPad to lead their own tour, which takes between 45 minutes to an hour depending on pace.
Yosemite paint & wine
This is also something to do inside the hotel–In partnership with the Yosemite Conservancy, offers guests the opportunity to paint the iconic Yosemite scenery through an expert artist tutorial while relaxing with wine and appetizers.
Held in the Yosemite Valley Lodge Mountain Bar Room surrounded by the area’s natural beauty to inspire notice or experienced painters, at the end of each session, participants take home their new masterpiece to enjoy a bit of Yosemite in their own home
A “must-do” activity at The Ahwahnee Hotel is to try out the legendary Sunday Brunch in The Ahwahnee Dining Room 7:30 am-2:00 p..m. There is also a new Executive Chef, Carla Pellegrino, with impressive culinary credentials.
Traveler | Explorer | Author, Two Girls, Two Dogs, and a Campervan
I just got back from my second trip to Yosemite. I continue to be awed by how much joy fills my heart while taking in all that the park has to offer.
Camping at Lower Pines
My first trip was with a girlfriend, her two dogs, and a campervan. This trip I went alone and camped for four nights in Lower Pines, which I believe is the best of all campgrounds — the sites are a little bigger, some running along the Merced River and most with grand views of granite slabs, as your window out of your tent.
There are so many hiking and nature walks but the one thing I would highly recommend to first-time visitors is to take or rent a bike and ride along the bike paths in Yosemite Valley.
The heart of the park lies in the valley with its spectacular meadows and views of Half Dome, El Capitan, and the various falls. You will stop frequently, for the images are too picturesque without somehow documenting what you’re seeing and experiencing.
Although it’s incredibly crowded during summer weekends, take detours off the paths and meander along the roads, venture into the meadows, cross-stone bridges, and capture nature’s soul.
Stop at Curry Village or Yosemite Village for a snack
Take a picnic lunch along in your backpack—there are so many places to park the bike and take a break. But my recommendation is going to the river and hear the streams. Enjoy that moment as it will stay with you.
Author & Photographer, “Yosemite: The Complete Guide: Yosemite National Park (Color Travel Guide)“
High Sierra Camp
One of Yosemite’s top experiences is the High Sierra Camp loop. There are five High Sierra Camps in Yosemite’s stunning wilderness, and each camp is located next to a gorgeous natural feature (lake, meadow, waterfall).
These rustic tent camps allow visitors to enjoy a warm bed, a hot shower and a hearty cooked meal in the backcountry.
The five camps form a loop, with each camp spaced a day’s hike apart. You can hike to any of the High Sierra Camps in a single day, or hike from camp to camp over several days, spending a night at each one.
Guided hikes and guided mule trips on the loop are also available. Among those in the know, the High Sierra Camps are one of Yosemite’s best experiences. Reservations for unguided trips are available via a lottery held in October. Guided trips are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Full-moon bike ride
One of the most underrated and undiscovered things to do in Yosemite is going on a full-moon bike ride. You can explore Yosemite much more than walking by taking a two-hour full-moon bike ride.
Rides leave early evening at 8.30m daily, where you can take in the stars and incredible views of the moon with a fully qualified and knowledgeable park ranger.
Owner & Founder, Svadore
We are not hardcore alpiners or climbers, we are not campers, and I’m afraid of heights. But we do love hiking, exploring, and reaching stunning destinations only earned after a hard and rewarding journey.
Standing around Yosemite, I felt small and insignificant next to these enormous glacier rocks. It reminded me that I am just a small person compared to the rest of the world.
The vast number of experiences that the park offers allow for some time of self-reflection, making you feel closer to our earth, and more appreciative of mother nature overall. Here are some of the best ways to immerse yourself in what Yosemite has to offer:
- Mirror Lake
- Hike the 10-mile Panorama Trail
- Sunset at Sentinel Dome
- Get close to the edge at Taft Point
Writer, Cast & Spear
Hiking or fishing
I grew up backpacking and fishing all over Yosemite. If you have the chance, try to visit one of the High Sierra Camps. After hiking through the beautiful terrain you’ll come across a camp tucked away with space to pitch a tent or rent a canvas tent.
The best part about these places is that they provide breakfast and dinner each night. That means before and after your day of hiking or fishing you’ll be well fed! My two favorites are Glen Aulen and Merced Lake. Merced Lake is epic for trout fishing as well.
Partnerships Manager, Glamping Hub
One of the best things to do in Yosemite is go glamping. With accommodations from Airstreams to Tree Houses, Yosemite offers some of the most unique and extraordinary accommodations for outdoor enthusiasts.
Whether you want to relax surrounded by the Redwoods and indulge in the peace and tranquility or embark on an incredible hiking and climbing adventure in the National Park, these glamping sites make for the perfect place to stay at.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Leave No Trace principles, and why are they important in Yosemite?
The Leave No Trace principles are a set of guidelines that promote responsible recreational use in the outdoors and the conservation of natural resources. The principles are designed to help visitors minimize their impact on the environment and preserve the park’s natural beauty and ecological integrity.
The seven principles of Leave No Trace are:
• Plan ahead and prepare
• Travel and camp on durable surfaces
• Dispose of waste properly
• Leave what you find
• Minimize campfire impact
• Respect wildlife
• Be considerate of other visitors
In Yosemite, Leave No Trace principles are fundamental because of the park’s fragile ecosystem and high volume of visitors. By following these principles, you can help protect the park’s natural resources, prevent damage to delicate habitats, and minimize the spread of invasive species.
Are there any safety tips I should be aware of when visiting Yosemite?
Yes, there are some safety tips you should be aware of when visiting Yosemite.
Always stay on designated trails and follow park rules and regulations: The park is home to various wildlife, including bears and mountain lions. Therefore, it’s important that you’re aware of your surroundings and take safety precautions for bears, such as storing food and scented items in bear-resistant containers and not leaving food unattended.
It’s also important to be prepared for the weather and terrain: Yosemite is known for its rugged terrain and can be challenging even for experienced hikers. Always bring plenty of water, snacks, appropriate clothing, and footwear for the season. In the summer months, be aware of the risk of dehydration and heat stroke, while in the winter, you should be prepared for icy and snowy conditions.
Always be aware of your own limitations and don’t take unnecessary risks: Yosemite is a beautiful but wild place, and accidents can happen even to experienced hikers and climbers. Always tell someone your plans and the estimated return time, and carry a first aid kit and emergency supplies.
What should I pack for a trip to Yosemite?
What you should pack for a trip to Yosemite depends on the time of year and your planned activities.
If you’re visiting Yosemite in the summer:
• pack light, breathable clothing
• plenty of water
• sturdy hiking shoes
• a hat to protect yourself from the sun
If you plan to visit in the colder months:
• pack warm clothing, including a coat, gloves, and a hat.
• snow boots or other appropriate footwear and a pair of snowshoes if you plan to explore the park’s winter wonderland
Regardless of the season, you must pack plenty of snacks, food, and a reusable water bottle. Yosemite has a “pack it in, pack it out” policy, meaning you must bring your trash when leaving the park.
You should also bring a camera or other device to capture the breathtaking scenery and wildlife you encounter.
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