Yosemite National Park is one of the most famous tourist spots in the States, and once you go through the pictures, you will know why people love it. People from all over the world try to witness the picturesque view this park offers.

With its extraordinary natural grandeur, Yosemite is often talked about as one of the most beautiful places on this planet. The natural formations of the park include canyons, granite cliffs, mountain peaks, and a unique collection of domes.

But there is something that makes this one of the most famous places, and this is the nighttime hiking. This is a popular place for nighttime hiking and offers amazing views from the summit point.

How to Get to Yosemite National Park?

How to Get to Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations because of its rich ecosystem and scenic beauty in the Sierra Nevadas. But how do you get there? The international airport is 190 miles west of the park and is in San Fransisco. 

It is approximately a three to four-hour drive from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park. There are a few airports that you can access to get to the national park. 

Oakland International Airport

Oakland International Airport is almost 180 miles west of the national park. Hotels are nearby, and you can book a cab from the hotel. It is a three to four-hour drive to the national park.


This one is around 140 miles north of the national park. It is going to take you around 2.5-3.5 hours from the airport to the national park.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles airport is 280 miles from Yosemite. It is going to take you around six years to get to Yosemite National Park from Los Angeles, as the traffic in this area is really bad.

Fresno Yosemite International

Fresno Airport is one of the major airports in this area and is also the closest. It is south of Yosemite National Park and is 65 miles away from the airport. From there, it is just a two-hour drive.

When to visit Yosemite National Park?

When to visit Yosemite National Park

It is obvious that the beauty of any place is enhanced when the place is not overly crowded. To witness that, the best time is to visit the park during the months of May and September. However, before you go, you should be aware that there are multiple trails leading to the place.

Some of these trails remain closed because of the snow for the majority of the year. Sometimes, the place is covered with snow as early as October, and by November, there is snow in full force. Ans this condition continues till March.

Just before March, the snowstorm stops, but that doesn’t mean the closed part of the national park opens immediately. The seasonally closed trails and roads do not open until May or June, and this depends on the weather conditions.

time to visit yosemite national park

May and September

May is one of the best times to visit, as you can be one with nature during this time. The sounds of the waterfalls are going to capture your mind and allow you to appreciate the wilderness and bearable climate.

The temperature ranges from 60-30 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure that you get a coat with you. Apart from the smaller crowd and the comfortable temperature, May is one of the best times to visit the place because the slow is all gone by this time.

During September, the temperature ranges from the mid-70s to mid-40s. This time serves as the best hiking temperature, and of course, there is less of a crowd during this time. There are fewer people, and the temperature is mild, but the waterfalls are not as free-flowing as they are during the summer months.

June to August

The summertime is overly crowded and disrupts the peace and magid Yosemite holds. The trail remains closed because of snow, so it is obvious that summer is the time when Yosemite National Park receives most of its visitors. 

The campsites are crowded, the hotels are expensive, and the trails are also crowded. You have to book everything at least six months before you are planning to visit. The only upside of visiting the part during the sumer months is that the entire park remains open. 

During the day, the temperature can reach up to 80 degrees, and during the night, it can fall upto 40 degrees. You can visit during early June to avoid some of the crowds. The scenic beauty is mesmerizing, and the waterfalls are at their best because of the melted snow.

October to November

This is also a good time to visit the park, as by this time, the vacations are over, and this is a popular site for family vacations. This will let you enjoy the scenic beauty of the park in peace. 

The temperature stays between the mid-60s in September, and by November, the temperature stays around the low 50s. Night-time temperature drops as well. It stays around the high 40s in October and around the low 30s in November.

However, in November, the roads started to get closed, and this made the park emptier because of the snow. So, if you are visiting this time, be prepared. You will not get to see the colors this park possesses. 

December to April

People who are fond of snow would love to visit during this time because of the sports activities they get to do. The Badger Pass Ski Area is one of the famous winter locations, and tourists can take part in cross-country skiing and downhill skiing. 

The temperature stays between the mid-20s, and during the night, it stays in the low 20s. During April, there is a slight increase in the temperature. However, the majority of the park stays closed during this time. But room rents are really low during this time.

Do You Need Any Reservations to Get to Yosemite National Park?

Do you need any reservations to get to Yosemite National Park

Well, it is not always that you need a reservation1 to access the national park, but some days you need a reservation. On some days, when you want to enter the park between 5 am and 4 pm, you need to make a reservation. 

However, if you want to visit after the peak hours, then you have to get there after 4 pm. This reservation system helps in managing the congestion and gives you a quality experience at the park. They are cooking up different plans to make the experience better for you.

The reservation dates are released on recreation.gov. However, if you need any additional reservations, you have to visit the site at least seven days before arrival. You can make the reservation one week in advance; it is then a combination of reservations that are valid for full days and only for an afternoon.

Reservations start from 8 am Pacific time and are immediately done. So make sure that you are ready with your account and stay logged in so you can get along with the process immediately.

The non-refundable reservation fee costs $2, but this does not include the $35 car parking fee. Every reservation is valid for a period of three days. For instance, if you make a reservation for monday, then the reservation is valid for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

If you make a reservation for any one of the following: vacation rentals, lodging, or in-park camping, then you would not require any additional reservation. But you have to pay the car parking fee unless you have a lifetime pass or an annual pass.

With this reservation, you can enter the park and enjoy the place for 24 hours every day for the reservation period or for three consecutive days (whichever is longer.)

Can You Visit Without Reservation?

Even if you have not made a reservation, you can visit Yosemite National Park. You have to arrive at the entrance point either after 4 pm or before 5 am. If you want to visit during the non-peak hours, you have to enter after 4 pm and before 5 am on subsequent days, even though you have an entrance receipt.

Hiking in Yosemite National Park

Do you need any reservations to get to Yosemite National Park

To experience everything that Yosemite has to offer, you have to take a hike. Here are a few hikes mentioned that you can take from different parts of Yosemite.

  • Yosemite valley
  • Tuolumne Meadows
  • Glacier point road
  • Crane flat and white wolf
  • Hetch Hetchy
  • Wawona and Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Places to See at Yosemite National Park

Places to see at Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of the best places California has to offer. The magical sights and the awe-inspiring mountains are a perfect place for any hiking enthusiast or for any person who has a heart for National Parks.

Here are the top 10 sights that you should not miss in Yosemite National Park.

Glacier Point

Glacier Point

This is one of the most breathtaking viewpoints, overlooking Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Valley, and Half Dome. You get to witness the ethereal view from over 7,000 feet. If you want to catch an amazing sunset and sunrise, this is the point that you should visit. 

The colorful valley is going to mesmerize you, and you will have a memory of a lifetime. You can access the viewpoint by bus and car. It would be better if you checked the schedule before you planned. 

You can also go hiking, stargazing, and birdwatching throughout the year. During winter, this is one of the best places to go snowshoeing and skiing.

Half Dome

Half Dome

This is one of the most iconic and one of the major tourist attractions. It is named after its appearance, which is like a half-done. This is a granite formation that is smooth on three sides and flat on one of the sides.

Even though it is taxing to hike to the Half Dome, it takes around 12 hours to reach the viewpoint. In the end, everything is going to be worth it, as the view will take your breath away. 

As you walk to the point, you will witness amazing panoramic views overlooking the Half Dome, Liberty Cap, Nevada, and Vernal Falls. As you get to the base, you can get to the peak with the help of the attached cables. Make sure where you are placing your feet while climbing up.

Brindalveil Fall

Brindalveil Fall

This is a jaw-dropping 80-foot-long waterfall. But it is not very difficult to reach the waterfall. It is just half a mile, and it would take you around an hour to get there and come back. 

This is also a pet-friendly hike, and if you have a person who finds it difficult to walk, you can take them in a wheelchair. The falls are much stronger during spring after the snow has melted. The misty flow of the waterfall resembles a bridal veil, which gives it its name.

Tunnel View

Tunnel View

This is another amazing viewpoint located off State Route 41. A long tunnel takes to that picturesque view. The view opens in a pine valley, looking over the amazing views of the Half Dome, Brideveil Falls, and El Captain. 

You should visit the place during spring to witness the best views. It is also easy to reach, and it is one of the most popular tourist sites. All you have to do is park the cat on the roadside and cherish the view.

Mariposa Grove

Mariposa Grove

This is one of the largest groves that you are going to find in Yosemite National Park. This is also the home to the giant sequoia trees. The grove is almost 3,000 years old and has more than 500 mature trees in the Mariposa Grove.

Grizzly Giant is the most famous one and is almost 2,700 years old. This is almost 209 feet tall and is the second-largest tree in the park. Even though it is easy to reach there, it is going to be difficult if you thought of taking your pet along with you. 

Tenaya Lake

Tenaya Lake

This is a gorgeous lake and is situated between Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley. The lake with the Tenaya Canyon is named after the chief of the Ahwahnechee people, Chief Tenaya. They were the residents of this place. 

The setting is beautiful and is placed among the granite cliffs. It is a 2.5-mile long hike and is not very difficult. It is among the most popular tourist destinations and is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and kayaking.

El Captain

This is one of the most popular tourist places, and it is at a height of 3,000 feet above the floor. El Captain is a great challenge for those who have a heart for rock climbing. Winter is the best time to visit this place, as the mist, along with the chilly weather, gives it a sense of mystery.

El Captain

During spring, the lush green valley and meadows give an amazing contrast to the bare El Captain. But for the best experience, visit during the last couple of weeks of February.

Olmsted Point

Olmsted Point

If you are traveling along the Tioga Pass Road, you are going to come across this view. The sight you are going to get is going to take your breath away. You can make a halt at Tenaya Lake, Half Dome, and Cloud Rest.

You have to hike through the gigantic boulders to get the entire view of the place. It is said that the boulders have been there for thousands of years and were left by a glacier.

Horsetail Fall

Horsetail Fall

This is a seasonal fall in the eastern part of El Captain. It is a 2,030-foot fall, but that is not the reason why this is famous. The magic comes alive in the last few weeks of February. This is a natural “firefall” and you should definitely not miss this fall.

The position of the setting sun, with some other variables, lights up the fall perfectly, giving it the fiery glow it needs. It glows like a celestial body and flows down the El Captain, making it a mesmerizing sight.

Yosemite Valley View

This is the last view of the valley, and people visit it last. This is an incredible view and is covered with lush green meadows and a clear river. Even if you are tired of everything, you should visit this last viewpoint to make your trip memorable. 

Yosemite Valley View

This is an ideal viewpoint for looking over the El Captain, Merced River, Brideveil Falls, and Cathedral Rocks.

Things to Remember While Taking a Night Hike in Yosemite

Things to remember while taking a night hike in Yosemite

There are certain things that you have to keep in mind while you are taking a night hike. 

  • Stay on the trail: do not take any shortcuts, no matter how much you are tempted. This can cause trail erosion. This is illegal and can turn out to be dangerous.
  • Carry plenty of water: One of the major reasons behind injuries during a hike is dehydration. Carry a lot of water, and make sure that you drink it at regular intervals. However, if you are filling water from springs, streams, lakes, or rivers, make sure you are treating it before drinking.
  • Bicycles are permitted to ride on the biking path only.
  • It is likely that you are going to encounter a few 

Yosemite’s Nightlife

Yosemite’s nightlife

It is not possible to describe the beauty of Yosemite Nation Park during the night. It is something you have to see for yourself to witness the enigma after dark. The peace that place holds is like nothing else. 

Apart from the crunching boots, the only sound you would get is from the unknown birds that are the habitat of that place. The moonlit terrain glows, along with the serene water bodies, which seem like an image cut out from a book. It looks like some enchanted land.

People are finding night hikes attractive these days, and this is one of the best places to experience the beauty of a night hike. The sublime view is something that is going to stay hooked in your mind and give you the experience of a lifetime.

Meet Their Varied Wildlife

Meet Their Varied Wildlife

Some people visit Yosemite National Park, looking for the waterfalls, their varied wildlife, and mountain peaks. However, the difficult thing to spot is the different wildlife species that are residents of that place. But you can try a few things to spot their wide species of wildlife.

Black bears, bighorn sheep, foxes, mule deer, mountain lions, and bobcats are some of the commonly spotted animals at this park. It has a wide variety of birds as well, with more than 250 species. But stay clear of the Yosemite toad, snakes, and turtles.

Take an Experienced Naturist Guide With You

Take someone who knows the park well. Tour guides are the best people who can take you to places where you can spot some animals. They can provide you with some mesmerizing information about the various species present there as well.

Visit the Meadows

Try the meadows like Tuolumne and Mariposa Grove. These have high numbers of animals, and it is easy to spot them here. If you want to try some places at high altitudes, then try the famous giant sequoias, which would present you with bountiful biodiversity.

Here Are a Few Tips to Consider While Wildlife Viewing

Here are a few tips to consider while wildlife viewing
  • Keep calm: It is a thing for all animals; when they hear a sound, they tend to stay away from that noise, as well as rapid movements. So, to spot some animals, the first thing that you have to do is keep your cool.
  • Travel in small groups: Wild animals will always avoid big groups.
  • Look for animal tracks: To understand whether you will spot an animal nearby, you have to look for evidence of the presence of the animal. This is the best clue that you can look for.
  • Do not disturb the ambiance: Never disturb their habitat, and respect their their home. While attempting to encounter animals, do not harm them or yourself.

Things to Do in Yosemite at Night

Things to do in Yosemite at night

During the day, you can go hiking, visit the different viewpoints, and enjoy an amazing spa. Take a bike and look around the National Park, but the trip is going to be incomplete if you do not explore the place during the night. There are plenty of activities that you can try during the night.

Here are some of those listed.



After witnessing an amazing sunset over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, you have to look at Yoseite’s clear blue sky. Make sure that you reserve a spot for yourself or for your family, and you will get your own high-powered telescope to enjoy that view.

This is going to be an experience of your lifetime. You will get an amazing view without pollution or light. You will spot galaxies, planets, and ranges of stars illuminating the sky. Also, You will get to learn about the mythology of the Yosemite sky and spot various constellations. Needless to say, shooting stars are also a site here.

California Craft Beer Tasting

For guests who are 21 and above, you should definitely book a night to sample the Golden State craft brews. Spend an evening trying out some of the best-handcrafted favorites from the best brewmasters in California. California Craft Beer Tasting is available on Thursdays and Fridays.

Make Smores 

Take a chair, sit around the firepits, and make some amazing gooey round of s’mores after it is dark. Yosemite has this tradition, and wherever you stay, they are going to light up the firepits, and you can enjoy this traditional campfire treat.

Watch the Sunset at Taft Point and Take a Night Hike

Watch the sunset at Taft Point and take a night hike

This is an amazing place to watch the sunset. And why should you miss the chance to hike during the night and miss the picturesque view of Yosemite?

The point that makes the hike unique is the view of the El Captain during the dusk. The hike is through the woods, and it is a 2.2-mile-long trail. However, this is not for people who have a fear of heights.

Try to leave the parking lot an hour or thirty minutes before sunset. This will provide you with plenty of time to get to the point, rest for a while, take some pictures, and then watch the sunset. 

But by the time you hike back, it is going to be dark. It is a little spooky as the place gets dark. But it is important that you carry your headlamps and an extra layer of warmers.

Enjoy Their Local Music

Nighttime in Yosemite is a wonderful time, and there are various places where they organize a live music session featuring their local wonders. Enjoy the local music, and sometimes you will catch live band performances as well.

You will get various kinds of music performances, as flavors are what keep life interesting. No matter who is playing, it is sure that you are going to love the experience. It is going to be a fine night in Yosemite.

Engage in a Themed Night

Engage yourself in the nighttime activities after sunset and dinner. There is a mix of scenery and history in Yosemite. Climbers, rangers, and hikers stop here for a beer and often enjoy the live music.

The Tavern at the Rush Creek Lodge often organizes themed nights, most popularly the Speakeasy Night. They also offer plenty of other things to do. They organize watching the game on a big screen; you can also take part in the karaoke or taste some amazing wine from their late-night menu.

Go for a Night Hike

If you have plans to do something during the night, you should check the evening programs that the rangers offer and the interpretative naturalist guides. Cultural programs, bus tours, night hikes, and seasonal events are available depending on the time of your travel. 

Look for Moonbows

Moonbows are nothing but lunar rainbows and can only be spotted during the early summer and spring seasons. You can spot one at Glacier Point, Bridevail Falls, and Yosemite Falls when the moonlight falls on the waterfall at the right angle.

Things to Avoid in Yosemite National Park

Things to avoid in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is considered among the most popular national parks in the states, and there is, of course, a valid reason behind it. This is an incredible place, and you can enjoy every inch of the place, as it has a lot to offer. However, it would not have been wise to get there without a plan.

You can easily get stuck in the place and find yourself unable to even find the parking lot, and the whole thing can turn into a disaster. Here are certain mistakes that you should avoid while you are in Yosemite National Park.

Do Not Arrive Without a Plan

You will encounter numerous people who have reached Yosemite National Park but have no clue what they want to do there. If you do not plan early, you might miss out on the best parts.

You need to do a little bit of research to figure out what you want to do there. There are various beautiful waterfalls and trails that are not obvious, so it is likely that you will miss all of them if you have not done your research before.

One Day is Not Enough

Yosemite is huge, and giving yourself just a day is not going to work out in your best interest. However, if you plan to just see a few viewpoints and take a short hike, then one day is going to be enough for you. 

This is because the best hikes take a little longer here. The best spots, like the Tioga Pass and Glacier Point,2 would take you at least an hour to reach from the floor of the valley.

Waterfalls Don’t Flow All Year Long 

The waterfalls do not flow all through the year. By the time fall comes, the Yosemite Fall is dry. Bridalveil Falls also gets under the shadow of its former self. So, if you are coming for the waterfalls time, your trip will be perfect, or else you will be disappointed.

Do Not Visit the Glacier Point During Sunset

There are two different points that are recommended for visiting to watch sunset: Glacier Point and Tunnel View. But instead, you should visit Sentinel Dome. This spot offers an amazing panoramic view and is one of the best spots to see the Half Dome and El Captain.

It is better to catch the sunrise at Glacier Point and not a sunset point, even though you might read otherwise elsewhere.

Do Not Visit Tunnel View in the Middle of the Day

This is one of the best viewpoints Yosemite has to offer. However, if you visit it during the middle of the day, you are going to look directly into the sun. If you have a heart for photography, you are going to miss your chance. 

Time it perfectly, and rhea there two to three hours before sunset. This time is going to give you the best natural light, and you might even spot a rainbow around the Bridalveil Falls.

Do Not Miss the Epic Hikes

There are various difficult hikes in Yosemite. But it has some of the hardest day hikes you will ever witness in the world. However, there are a few epic hikes, and you are going to need a bit of training before you go head-on.

Hiking to the El Captain and Cloud’s Rest are some of the most exhausting ones, but these are going to satisfy you with their amazing views. 

Arriving at Midday

There are various problems if you reach midday, as you will not get enough time to experience the place. Also, during the middle of the day, it is going to be difficult to find a parking spot. Start in the morning, and everything will go smoothly.

Do Not Book the Yosemite Housekeeping Camp

The only good thing about the Yosemite Housekeeping Camp is the location. The National Park Service is good, but it is highly overpriced. It is approximately $122 per night.

Do Not Forget to Carry Your Id

There are various places in the Yosemite National Park that require an ID and a permit to enter. Half Dome is one of the best examples of such a place. You will require the permit after you have traveled for 10 miles uphill.

There is a ranger who is going to check the permit, and they will not let you enter without it. Even if you have the permit with you, if you do not carry an ID with you, they will not let you in.

Do Not Leave Food Behind in the Car

There is a history of bear attacks in Yosemite National Park, and if you keep food back in your car, there is a high chance that they are going to smell it, damage your car, and take the food away.

Some hikes have bear boxes, but not all of those. So, avoid keeping food in the car, or you might come back with a very hefty repair bill.

Do Not Carry a Bear Spray

Carrying a bear spray is considered carrying a weapon and is banned in Yosemite National Park. So even if you are scared, do not carry it with you.

Get Your Dinner Before 9 Pm

Trying to get some food after 9 pm is kind of a struggle in Yosemite. Some of the places even sell out food before 8 pm. The only option available after 9 is pizza in the Curry Village. However, if you are planning to spend more than a night here, then having this overpriced pizza every night is going to be difficult.

Wrapping up!

If you are planning a tour to the Yosemite National Park, you can take a self-guided tour with research of your own, or there are various agencies that offer a guided tour. But it depends on you what you want to see.

If you do not like the prescribed tour, go on your own, and the people there will guide you through it. Make sure you carry all the hiking essentials, and avoid the mistakes mentioned above. Remember to carry your ID and check before you go to see whether you need a reservation or not.

  1. https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/reservations.htm#:~:text=Yes.,vehicle%20anywhere%20in%20the%20park ↩︎
  2. https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm ↩︎

Subhasree Nag

Subhasree is a content writer who is passionate about traveling, writing, and reading books. In her leisure time, she is seen listening to music and watching web series. Writing along with music and dance are ways in which she expresses herself.

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