Yosemite

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Yosemite

Yosemite National Park (map) is an American national park in Northern California, surrounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest (map) and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest (map).

Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves. Yosemite now draws about four million visitors each year, and most visitors spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles (18 km2) of Yosemite Valley (map).

Yosemite Valley is open year-round and numerous activities are available through the National Park Service, Yosemite Conservancy, and Aramark at Yosemite.

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A free shuttle bus system operates year-round in the valley, and park rangers encourage people to use this system since parking within the valley during the summer is often nearly impossible to find.

Yosemite is one of the world’s most spectacular hiking destinations, and all visitors should consider at least a short hike. Over 800 miles (1,300 km) of trails are available to hikers — everything from an easy stroll to a challenging mountain hike, or an overnight backpack trip.

If you only have a single day to visit the park, a drive around Yosemite Valley is probably the best option. Longer visits provide options for hiking, visiting sites outside the Valley, and getting a fuller experience of what the Sierra Nevadas have to offer.

The loop road through Yosemite Valley is now one-way. For many years this was a two-lane road, but motorists travelling slowly to admire the scenery often created a long backup of annoyed drivers, so the Park Service converted most of the roads in the valley into one-way roads to allow passing. As a result, when driving in the valley be aware that a wrong turn can send you on a one-way five-mile detour.

Yosemite Valley is the reason why Yosemite was America’s first place set aside by the federal government for its scenic beauty. The Valley is also one of the most accessible places in the park, with roads open year-round and plenty of amenities including lodging and food (but no gas stations).

Those entering the valley via Highway 41 will be treated to the spectacular viewpoint known as Tunnel View (map). Named for the tunnel that bores through the granite, the eastern side provides a dramatic view of Yosemite Valley with El Capitan on the left, Bridalveil Fall on the right and Half Dome in the center. Photographers should consider this area for pictures after storms, as many of the most famous pictures of the Valley have been taken from this spot as rough weather clears.

Wawona (map) is the home to the historic Wawona Hotel, dating from the late nineteenth century. The Pioneer Yosemite History Center (map), a collection of historic buildings, is just over the covered bridge from the hotel. Wawona is accessible by car year-round.

The Mariposa Grove (map) is the largest of the three giant sequoias groves in the park (the Merced Grove and Tuolumne Grove are the other two) and is home to over 500 mature trees. While not the tallest or oldest things on earth, by volume the giant sequoias are the largest living organism known to man.

Glacier Point (map), an overlook with a commanding view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Yosemite’s high country, is generally regarded as the most spectacular viewpoint in the park. It is accessible by car from approximately late May through October or November.

Badger Pass (map) is the oldest ski area in California, and is along the road to Glacier Point. The road to Badger Pass is plowed year round, and this area is the starting point for downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing during the winter. During winter months a free shuttle runs twice a day from Yosemite Valley to Badger Pass.

The Tioga Road (Highway 120 East, map) is an amazingly scenic route through Yosemite’s high country that crosses the park from west-to-east and provides access to the Eastern Sierra and Mono Lake (map). This road is closed in winter and usually opens to vehicles only from late May or early June through the first snowfall in November. It offers a 39-mile scenic drive between Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows through forests and past meadows, lakes, and granite domes.

“I find that in contemplating the natural world my pleasure is greater if there are not too many others contemplating it with me, at the same time.” –Edward Abbey

Almost 95% of Yosemite is designated Wilderness, offering endless opportunities for adventure, solitude, and connection. In order to protect these wild places and provide an outstanding hiking experience, wilderness permits are required for all overnight trips.

Use the resources on this page to start planning your trip, find important information about safety and regulations, and learn how to apply for your wilderness permit.

Public transport

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yarts.com – buses to the park.

+ Getting to Yosemite (nps.gov)

ROADTRIPPERS – world’s #1 road trip planning platform. (*Driving in the United States)

 BUS >   GoToBus.com is the leading go-to website for booking inter-city bus ticket online. Intercity bus travel is widespread, but not available everywhere. Greyhound Bus LinesBolt BusMegabusChinatown buses. (*Long-distance bus travel in the United States)

 RAIL >   AMTRAK | eTicketing | Interactive Map. Some of the most scenic routes include the California Zephyr that runs between *Emeryville (map) in the San Francisco Bay Area of California to Chicago and the Empire Builder that goes from Chicago to Seattle or Portland. (*Rail travel in the United States)

 AIRPORTS >   The international airports in Atlanta (Hartsfield) • New York City (Newark Liberty and John F. Kennedy International Airport) • Los Angeles • Chicago (O’Hare IA) • San Francisco • Seattle (Seattle-Tacoma) • Miami • Houston (George Bush) are the main points of entry to the United States by plane. Flight Delay Information — Air Traffic Control System Command Center.

 WATERWAYS >   Washington State Ferries | Route Maps: Where we sail (PDF). Bluewater Ferry Inc. (USA – Canada). America has the largest system of inland waterways of any country in the world. It is entirely possible to navigate around within the United States by boat. The New York State Canal SystemThe St. Lawrence Seaway • *The Mississippi River.

+ *United States Bicycle Route System

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