The Park in a nutshell
3.027 square km of wild land with an impressive landscape in Central California, in the western part of the Sierra Nevada. Yosemite obtained first recognition in 1864 by Abraham Lincoln when he set aside the land in order to allow the public to enjoy Yosemite Valley’s high waterfalls, deep cliffs, open meadows, and oak woodlands as well as the Mariposa Grove’s massive and ancient giant sequoias. When it became a national park October 1, 1890 and it was expanded to include Tuolumne Meadows and the high country.
The park ranges from 2,000 feet above sea level to more than 13,000 feet and offers three major features:
1) alpine wilderness
2) groves of Giant Sequoias
3) Yosemite Valley
The 200 miles of roads give access to all of these features either by car or by free shuttle bus in some areas. To get to know the real Yosemite, however, you must leave your car and take a few steps on a trail. You don’t have to walk far to discover the grandeur that can be found here and the values this special place offers. Millions of people have come to Yosemite and left refreshed and relaxed and perhaps a bit more knowledgeable about what they want out of life.
Entrance Fee & Summer 2020 Updates
Summer 2020 Updates
Due to current health guidelines, reservations are required for all entry into Yosemite National Park. Go to recreation.gov to make a day-use reservation. There, you can purchase a pass, or use your existing Yosemite Pass or other federal lands pass. A $2 reservation fee is required.
If you have another reservation in the park, you may not need a day-use reservation and can pay the entrance fee at the park entrance station. You do not need a day-use reservation if:
- you have a camping or lodging reservation
- you have a wilderness or Half Dome permit
- you have a vacation rental inside the park
- you enter via the local public transit system (YARTS buses)
- you enter with an authorized tour
For more information, check Yosemite National Park FAQ page.
Data & Facts
You can visit Yosemite all year, though some areas of the park are inaccessible by car from approximately November through May due to snow. You can drive your car into and around Yosemite, though we encourage you to use shuttle buses in some areas.
Reservations are not required to enter Yosemite, however we strongly recommend that you make reservations for camping or lodging if you plan to spend the night.
Campground Reservation Information
Yosemite’s campground reservation service is part of the National Recreation Reservation System (NRRS): Recreation.gov
The Tioga Rd (Hwy 120 through the park) and the Glacier Point Rd are closed until late May or June. See details on NPS Website.
Weather and Climate
Best time to travel
That depends on what you like the most: snowy winters, mild summers, animals, etc.
Yosemite National Park is open year-round (though some roads are closed due to snow from November through May or June). Is there a best time to visit Yosemite? It depends what you’re looking for, and each season has its advantages.
Yosemite is always open, and you can enter or leave the park at any time (except for Hetch Hetchy Entrance, which is open approximately during daylight hours). No reservations are required (or available) to enter the park.
(April & May) The perfect season for waterfalls! Areas to visit: While Yosemite Valley and Wawona remain accessible by car all year, the Tioga and Glacier Point Roads remain closed due to snow, often until late May (see a list of opening dates since 1980). Tire chains sometimes are required even during spring. When they are, you should carry and know how to use them, regardless of the type of vehicle you are driving. Climate: Highly variable, with sunny and relatively warm days, but still an occassional winter storm. Yosemite Valley & Wawona (4,000 ft / 1,200 m): 69°F (21°C) / 39°F (4°C) Rivers & Waterfalls: As warmer weather begins to melt the snow, even the smallest creeks are rushing with water. You may see many small, unnamed waterfalls and cascades all along the Valley rim. Larger creeks and rivers, along with the better known waterfalls, tend to reach peak runoff in May or June. Wildflowers: It’s too early for wildflowers in the park, though you might see California poppies and other species at lower elevations on your way to Yosemite. Redbud and dogwood also tend to bloom in May.
(June through September)
See lots of the park…and other visitors
Areas to visit: All areas of the park are usually accessible by car by late May or early June, although services along the Tioga Road often open a bit later in June.
Climate: Warm to hot, with occasional rain (usually as afternoon thundershowers, especially at the higher elevations). Yosemite Valley & Wawona (4,000 ft / 1,200 m): 87°F (31°C) / 51°F (10°C)
Rivers & Waterfalls: Most of the water flowing in Yosemite comes from snowmelt in the high country, so runoff decreases during the dry summer. Peak runoff typically occurs in May or June, with some waterfalls (including Yosemite Falls) often only a trickle or completely dry by August. Other waterfalls, including Vernal, Nevada, and Bridalveil, run all year, however their flow can be very low by late summer.
Wildflowers: Yosemite Valley & Wawona- Most blooming occurs in June, with redbud, Sierra onion, lupine, Mariposa lily, pentstemon, and flowering dogwood beginning in May. Tuolumne Meadows- The season begins in late summer for subalpine flowers. Beginning around July, look for little elephant’s heads, gentian, pentstemon, yarrow, and shooting stars.
(October & November)
See lots of the park, but few people
Areas to visit: All areas of the park usually remain open through October, and sometimes into November. However short-term closures may occur due to snow. Along the Tioga Road, services often are not available after September and overnight parking is not permitted after October 14th. Yosemite Valley and Wawona remain accessible by car all year, however tire chains may be required, depending on conditions.
Climate: Quite variable, with weather ranging from hot to cold, dry to rainy or snowy.
Yosemite Valley & Wawona (4,000 ft / 1,200 m): 54°F (12°C) / 35°F (2°C)
Rivers & Waterfalls: Water levels tend to be very low, with waterfalls (including Yosemite Falls) containing little or no water. Some waterfalls, including Vernal, Nevada, and Bridalveil, run all year, however their flow slows to a trickle by fall.
Fall colors: Yosemite is not known for having spectacular fall colors because most of the trees are evergreen. Still, big-leaf maples, black oaks, Pacific dogwoods, and other deciduous trees tend to be showy around mid-October.
(December through March)
A season of snow & solitude
Areas to visit: While Yosemite Valley and Wawona remain accessible by car all year, the Tioga Road is closed (usually by sometime in November). Once closed for the season, vehicles are not permitted between Crane Flat and Tioga Pass, including in the Tuolumne Meadows area. The road to Glacier Point is also closed (usually sometime in November). However from mid-December though early April, the Glacier Point/Badger Pass Road is plowed to the Badger Pass Ski Area where both downhill and cross-country skiing is popular. Tire chains are often required on park roads. When they are, you must carry and know how to use them, regardless of the type of vehicle you are driving.
Climate: Winter in Yosemite is snowy and cold, though sunny and chilly days are not uncommon.
Yosemite Valley & Wawona (4,000 ft / 1,200 m): 53°F (12°C) / 28°F (-2°C)
Rivers & Waterfalls: Water levels tend to be low, but once some snow and rain have fallen, Yosemite Falls begins flowing again (though not at springtime levels).
Climate and Temperatures
Check the National Park Service Website, see below the weblink, for current road conditions and overall park conditions.
Weather can change quickly!
Average Temperatures & Precipitation for Yosemite Valley (4,000 feet / 1,220 m)
|(F / C)||(F / C)||(inches / cm)|