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