The Yosemite National Park is a popular destination for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and rock climbing. Yosemite National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and 95% of the park is considered to be wilderness. It draws crowds from all around the world with its natural beauty and fun activities. In recent years, the park management has required visitors to make reservations prior to going to Yosemite to control the incoming crowds.

It is situated along the Sierra Nevada in Northern California and spans up to 1,189 square miles of land. Thousands of lakes, ponds, and streams can be found within this park. There are over 800 miles (1,300 km) of hiking trails that allow visitors to see views of the mountains, glaciers, meadows, granite cliffs, and waterfalls.

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When To Hike

The park is open year-round. Certain areas will be closed off during the wintertime and have rough weather conditions. The best time to hike is between May and September because of the good weather. Most of the trails are closed during the winter months due to snow.

Hiking Trails

The hiking trails in Yosemite are very popular, which means they can get extremely crowded throughout the year. It is best to make reservations and advanced arrangements, especially for those who wish to seek the assistance of guides.

Access

To control the number of visitors, the national park required visitors to make reservations. Tickets prices are as follows:

  • Private Vehicles (including pickup, RV, a van with up to 15 passenger seats) - $35 per vehicle
  • Motorcycle - $30 per motorcycle
  • Bicycle, Horse, By foot, Non-commercial vehicles with 15+ passenger seats - $20 per person

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Public Transportation

YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System) offers year-round service to park goers.

  • It passes along Highway 41 on a fixed route into Yosemite National Park. YARTS has connections to Greyhound and Amtrak, and the Fresno International Airport.
  • Fresno Airport to Yosemite Valley Visitor Center (roundtrip) – from $18

Lodging

Here are some of the accommodations available within Yosemite National Park:

The Ahwahnee

  • Open all year
  • Reservations are required
  • Price range: $574 per night

Yosemite Valley Lodge

  • Open all year
  • Price range: $249

Wawona Hotel

  • Open from June 10, 2021, to November 2021, and on March 25, 2022
  • Price range: $231

Curry Village

  • Open from April 2 to November 28, 2021, and from December 17, 2021, to January 2, 2022
  • Room categories: standard hotel rooms, wood cabins, canvas tent cabins
  • Price range: $152

Housekeeping Camp

  • April 23, 2021 to October 11, 2021, 50% occupancy
  • Price range: from $103.09

White Wolf Lodge

  • Closed for summer 2021
  • Room categories: tent cabins and wood cabins
  • Price range: from $137

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

  • Closed for summer 2021
  • Room categories: canvas tent cabins that can fit up to 4 guests
  • No electricity, no TV, shared restrooms
  • Price range: from $137

High Sierra Camps

  • Price range: $706.50 per person for a 5-night stay

RV and Campgrounds

  • Available on a first-come-first-served basis
  • Price range: $14

Climate

Yosemite National Park has a Mediterranean climate. It is nearly dry most of the year, with some precipitation during winter.

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Preparing for a Hike

Yosemite has over 800 miles (1,300 km) of hiking trails. There are a variety of trails, and they range from easy to challenging. There are different ways to go about hiking. To prepare, make sure to bring water, snacks, a hat, and sunglasses. Here are the options:

Guided Custom Hikes

  • 4 hours - from $70 per person for a group of 4
  • 8 hours – from $90 per person for a group of 4
  • 10 hours – from $150 per person for a group of 4
  • Easy to moderate trail with a guide
  • In addition, a private guide will design a hike that is appropriate for your skill level and preference.

Guided Group Hikes

  • June to early October
  • Minimum age: 12
  • Adventure Hike: $85 per person, 8 hours (Sunday and Friday)
  • Trail: Tenaya Canyon, Mirror Lake, option to explore Snow Creek Trail
  • Full-Day Adventure Hike: $85 per person, 6 hours (Tuesdays)
  • Trail: from Curry Village, Happy Isles, Vernal, and Nevada Falls

Guided Half Dome Hikes

  • 10 to 14 hours
  • Permit is required

Guided High Sierra Camp Hikes

  • Option for 5 and 7-day hikes
  • Hikers are chosen through a lottery system
  • Hikers can stay at High Sierra Camps

Self-Guided Hikes

  • Hikes go through Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point Road, Hetch Hetchy, White Wolf, Tuolumne Meadows, Wawona, and Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Trail 1: Leading To The Summit Of Half Dome

  • Late May to October
  • This is the most popular and most coveted trail. It requires a permit to be booked in advance as the park only allows up to 300 hikers.
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Duration: 10-14 hours

Trail 2: Merced Grove Trail

  • Hikers go down an old road into Merced Grove, which is one of Yosemite’s sequoia groves.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Duration: 1-3 hours

Trail 3: Nevada Fall Trail

  • From Mist Trail, continue 1.3 miles, and then go into Nevada Fall. Hikers can access the Nevada fall through the John Muir Trail.
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Duration: 5-6 hours

Summer Activities

Rafting

  • Paddle through the Merced River with friends for an adrenaline rush!
  • Cost: from $28.50 per person, minimum of 2 paddlers

Biking

  • Yosemite Valley is flat, which makes for an easy ride even for beginners. Bikers are expected to stay within biking trails only.
  • Bike rental cost: from $30 for 5 hours (standard bike)

Rock Climbing

  • Recommended during the snow-free months. Yosemite National Park has authorized climbing instructors with First Responder and EMT certifications to help climbers.
  • Reservations are recommended, as this is one of the most popular activities in Yosemite.
  • Guided climb cost: from $195 (group of 3), 6 hours

Horseback and Mule Riding

  • Available from May to September
  • Cost: $70 per person
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Reservations through the Wawona Stable is required
  • All-day ride: $144.00 per person, minimum age requirement: 10 years old

Yosemite National Park is highly recommended for those who love the great outdoors. The views and landscapes are so breathtaking, making even the most strenuous hikes worth the effort.

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