Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Best Time to Visit Yosemite Valley

Tunnel View - El Capitain on the left, Bridalveil Falls on the right and Half Dome in the distant center.
Yosemite National Park is a world renowned place with spectacular views but there is one downside. When a place is this beautiful and famous, there will always be heaps of people wanting to see it and 3.7 million people visit the park every year to gawk at how amazing nature can be.

When you go to see one of the most breathtaking places nature has to offer, you want to see it with as few people as possible. For me, large crowds tend to interfere with that whole connecting-with-nature thing. 

Merced River
To avoid the crowds, the best time to visit Yosemite is early-mid spring and here's why: schools aren't out for the summer yet and people still think it's too cold to visit. Once schools close for the summer, family vacations begin and the park gets more busy. Also, the warmer weather in June, July, and August attracts people.

Here's what you can expect when visiting in the spring:

On the trail to Upper Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Valley will be mostly clear of snow but you'll still be able to see snow on the surrounding mountains. There's something about snow capped mountains that I just love.

Left: Vernal Falls Right: Upper Yosemite Falls
The waterfalls in the valley will be raging full force from all that snow melting in the warm spring sunshine. Yay! Waterfalls make me happy. :)

Carrying our extra layers at the top of the mountain, almost to Upper Yosemite Falls.
The combination of hiking and that same warm spring sun will make exploring the miles of trails enjoyable and not too hot/not too cold. It will be chilly in the morning and at night so bring layers but be prepared to peel them off as the day warms up and you get your body moving.

An empty trail in Yosemite Valley
  Most places and trails will be open (although not all, including Half Dome, check Yosemite's website for more details). There will be a fraction of the people on the trails meaning that you will be able to enjoy them without 100 other people flitting about trying to get a picture that looks like no one is around them.

Free Transportation within Yosemite Valley (photo source)
 There won't be traffic in the valley but the eco-friendly shuttle bus system will still be running to help you get around. Best part? It's FREE!
our tent cabin

There are a variety of places to sleep, from camping to a five star hotel, that are open year round. We car camped one year and stayed in a non-heated tent cabin another year. The tent cabin was an adequate mix of camping and comfort and you can get a heated one. (tip: Bring an extra sleeping bag if you can. There were plenty of blankets to keep warm but the sleeping bag was more comfortable.)
just playing in the valley
Have you ever been to Yosemite National Park? When did you go and what did you think? Share your story with us!


  1. Replies
    1. Aren't they??! We've been right at the very top of both of them and it's such a rush to see that much water rushing over the side and into the air. It makes me think of freedom and taking risks--two things I love! :)