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Yosemite National Park in California is perhaps one of the busiest National Parks in the world, with over 3.7 million people visiting every year. The National Park stretches across 747,956 acres of California but most people head to Yosemite Valley to photograph or hike the famous half dome. Yosemite was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1984 being internationally recognised for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, and biological diversity.
Things to do in Yosemite National Park
The most popular activity in Yosemite National Park is hiking.
Lower Yosemite Falls: This 1 mile walk takes you through interesting rock formations that lead to the bottom of upper and lower Yosemite Falls. There are so many great photo opportunities along this walk.
Mirror Lake: When water levels are high you can see the reflection of the half dome on the lake. Magnificent.
Bridal Veil Falls: This is only a half-mile hike and well worth it. The trail takes you to the bottom of the falls.
Upper Yosemite Falls: This strenuous 7-hour hike to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls was high on the list, but unfortunately we didn’t have the time. Just imagining standing on the edge of Americas tallest waterfall excites me.
Half Dome: Is one of the most popular hikes in America. You need a permit to do this hike and must pre-book. If you are lucky enough to get a spot on this hike, I’m jealous.
Swimming, bike riding, horse riding, relaxing and photography are other popular activities in Yosemite National Park.
Glacier point: An hour from Yosemite Valley is Glacier Point, a famous viewpoint for the Half Dome and Yosemite Valley.
Hetch Hetchy: Amazing. Located off Evergreen Road approximately 45minutes is Hetch Hetchy, a reservoir nestled amongst mountains with waterfalls flowing in. This area is much less busy than Yosemite Valley.
Summer: June – August
Winter: December – February
I recommend travelling to Yosemite in spring or fall. The weather will be great and you will miss the crowd. I visited Yosemite in spring on a weekday and It was still packed. Definitely avoid visiting in peak season.
Recommended trip length
I recommend staying in Yosemite for 2-3 days.
A car is essential as the main attractions are spread out. Having a car will allow you to see so much more.
Where to stay
I recommend camping.
If you want to camp inside Yosemite National Park, reserve a camping spot months in advance.
Outside of Yosemite in Stanislaus National Park, you will find many campsites that are just as good if not better than the campsites in Yosemite.
We stayed at Lumsden the first night. This is a free campsite however the drive is dangerous with a one-way gravel road on the side of a 600ft cliff. This deters a lot of people so if you have a good car, aren’t afraid of heights and want to avoid the crowd, camp here.
Diamond O is another campsite we stayed at and is located along Evergreen Road on the way to Hetch Hetchy. The campsite was great, it had everything we needed and wasn’t crowded like the campsites in Yosemite. Hetch Hetchy reservoir is easily accessible from Diamond O.
I highly recommend Diamond O campsite and the scenic drive to Hetch Hetchy.
If you plan on getting a hotel you can search for great deals here.
See more from the US here.
Disclosure: This guide to Yosemite contains affiliate links.