When to Visit Yosemite
Yosemite is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and no reservations are required to enter the park, so deciding when to visit can be a difficult decision, as each season has different and exciting activities to offer.
Yosemite National Park Weather
Although summer offers the warmest weather and ideal for backpacking, it is also the most difficult time to obtain a reservation for a campground. Winter offers visitors a chance for a solitary and peaceful experience, or alternatively, a ski vacation at Badger Pass. Spring visitors will witness the waterfalls at their peak while fall visitors can enjoy the beautiful fall foliage.
Sleeping accommodations at Yosemite range from campsites to luxury hotels. There are several Yosemite hotels both inside and outside the park to choose from.
If you plan on camping at Yosemite, then reservations are essential; they are most difficult to obtain in the months of April through September. If you would like to stay in a car campground, reservations are required from March 15 to November. Reservations at the other campsites (Hodgdon Meadow, Wawona, Crane Flat and Toulumne Meadoes) are required summer through fall.
Yosemite national park reservations can be made up to five months in advance, on the 15th of each month, starting at 7am PST. Reservations are available in periods of one month at a time and are usually filled within the first day for peak season (May through September).
Although not recommended, the option to camp without a reservation does exist. Such can done on a first-come first-serve basis and is only available at certain campgrounds. To increase your chances of finding a campsite, you should arrive by noon on weekdays and mid-morning on weekends.
An entrance fee is charged at entry: $10 per individual coming in by foot, bike, horse or other solitary means of transportation. Or if driving, $20 covers all individuals in the vehicle. For the repeat visitor, Annual and Lifetime passes are also available.
Getting There and Getting Around
Yosemite National Park is located 313 miles east of Los Angeles and 195 miles east of San Francisco Bay Area.
If driving from San Francisco: Take I-580 east to I-205 east to Highway 120 east (Manteca) or Highway 140 east (Merced) into Yosemite National Park.
If driving from Los Angeles: Take I-5 north (or I-405 north to I-5) to Highway 99 north to Highway 41 north (Fresno) into Yosemite National Park.
Once you get to Yosemite there is a free shuttle system inside the park. The Yosemite Valley shuttle line operates year round from 7am to 10pm and stops at all lodgings and major vistas. The El Capitan line operates from 9am to 6pm during the summer months (mid June through early September) and stops at: El Capitan, the Four Mile trailhead and the Valley Visitor Center.