Arrive Before 10.00 am Or After 4.00 pm.
In the summer when traffic is heavy, try to arrive before 10.00 am or after 4.00 pm to avoid the congestion and delays!
Spring Is The Best Time To See The Waterfalls.
When the ice and snow is melting in the mountains, the waterfalls are all running and impressive. Be alert around the swift, ice cold and dangerous water!
Best Time For Finding Accommodations In The Park – Fall to Early Spring
Autumn, Winter and Spring are the best times for booking accommodations in the park. The park is more beautiful during these seasons, less congested and more relaxing for the auto driver.
Find Accommodations In The Gateway Communities
During the peak summer season when accommodations are full in Yosemite Valley, reserve your accommodations in one of the gateway communities of Mariposa, Coulterville, El Portal, Fish Camp, Wawona or Midpines. These towns are a short drive into the park. You can also leave your car at your hotel in these locations and catch the YARTS shuttle for a leisurely and relaxing ride into the Valley from these towns. Once in the park, there are shuttle services and guided bus and tram tours to different parts of the park.
Stay In The Gateway Communities and use YARTS Into the Park
During the peak summer season when traffic is heavy in Yosemite Valley, stay in Mariposa, Coulterville, El Portal, Fish Camp, or Midpines and take YARTS for a relaxing ride into the park.
Park Your Car and Travel On the Yosemite Valley Shuttle
During the peak summer season when traffic is very heavy in the park, it is best to park your car and use the shuttle services and guided bus and tram tours that are available to different parts of the park.
All Season Highway 140 Into The Park
Hwy 140 is the all season highway, and is a less strenuous drive along the beautiful Wild and Scenic Merced River.
Yosemite Vacation Planner View this vacation planner online, or request a high quality conversation piece for your coffee table, with beautiful photos of Yosemite. A Trip Planner is available for you to select items in Yosemite that interest you, by clicking the “Add to Itinerary” button at the top of each interest page. Visit the Trip Planner page to get more information. Visit the Gateways to Yosemite page to see how you can enter Yosemite through one Highway and leave by another.
Want to look up a specific interest such as the locations of scenic views, hotels, shopping or fishing? Yosemite travel tools can help. Choose your choice of interest and location by visiting the Interactive Map
Webcams are maintained through the generous support of Yosemite Conservancy donors. To find out more visit the Yosemite Webcams
Traffic and Weather
Weather conditions are always important to know before visiting Yosemite. You can view the road and weather conditions by visiting the Traffic, Weather, Distances
page. Traffic Conditions
Driving through Yosemite can be an amazing experience, although heavy traffic can interrupt this peaceful drive through the scenic routes. Schedule to enter the park at non-peek hours by viewing the traffic forecast for each day at NPS Traffic Forecast. No Gas
Before entering Yosemite, fill up with gas. There are NO service stations in Yosemite Valley. The nearest gas station to the Valley is in El Portal
on Highway 140 (13 miles), Crane Flat
on the Big Oak Flat Road (15 miles), and in Wawona
on the Wawona Road (27 miles). Plan ahead and be sure you have plenty of gas before you drive into the valley. A repair garage is open all year behind the Yosemite Village Store. A towing service is available 24 hours a day by calling (209)-372-8390. Shuttle Buses
In the Park, there are free shuttle buses serving the eastern end of the Valley. You are encouraged to park your car, either in one of the day use parking lots, or in the parking area associated with your accommodations if you are staying over. The buses serve some areas, such as the Happy Isles Nature Center (trailhead for Vernal and Nevada Falls, and Half Dome), the Mirror Lake trail, and the stables, closed to private cars. Free shuttle buses also provide service from the Valley to Glacier Point (in summer), Badger Pass (winter), and Tuolumne Meadows (summer). RV’s and Trailers
RVs and trailers are permitted in the park. In the Valley, the maximum length is 40 feet for RV’s, and 35 feet for trailers. Be aware that the number of camp sites that can accommodate RVs or trailers of that length is limited. Camp sites in the park do not include hookups. Gas There are four entrances into Yosemite National Park but only three are open all year, only from the west. 1. The Arch Rock Entrance overlooking the Merced River is on Highway 140 from Mariposa and Merced. 2. The Big Oak Flat Entrance is on Highway 120 from Manteca. Highway 132 from Coulterville and Modesto comes in to Highway 120 at Smith Station, about eight miles west of the Big Oak Flat Entrance. 3. The South Entrance is on Highway 41 from Oakhurst and Fresno. This entrance is also convenient for Mariposa county locations on Highway 49 South, which joins Highway 41 at Oakhurst, especially if your destination is Wawona, Badger Pass or Glacier Point. Also on the west is the Hetch Hetchy Entrance (open all year), on Hetch Hetchy Road which branches off Highway 120 just before the Big Oak Flat Entrance. 4. From the east, the Tioga Pass Entrance on Highway 120 from Lee Vining and Highway 395, is open late May or early June through October or November, depending on snow conditions. Snow Chains
Since weather conditions can change quickly in winter, it is recommended that drivers carry tire chains from October through April. Depending on actual snow conditions in the Park, chains may be required at any time during this period (you will be turned back at the entrance if you do not have them). You can inquire at the visitor centers in Mariposa (for Highway 140), Coulterville (for Highway 132 / 120), Groveland (for Highway 120), and Oakhurst (for Highway 41) to determine current chain requirements. Chains can be rented or bought at these locations (except Coulterville). You are somewhat more likely to encounter snow conditions on highways 120 and 41, which both reach 6000’ elevation, but if there is snow in Yosemite Valley, at the 4100’ level, you will need chains regardless which highway you use.
Key Phone Numbers: Wilderness permit reservations (209) 372-0740 Current wilderness conditions (209) 372-0307 For more information about making a reservation or obtaining a permit call (209)372-0310.
Treat the Water
Unfortunately, microscopic organisms known as Giardia lamblia are present in wilderness lakes, rivers and streams. They can cause illness (sometimes quite severe), so you should not drink from these sources without first treating the water. Your options are to boil it for three minutes, to use a chemical disinfectant like iodine or chlorine (less effective than boiling), or to use a Giardia-rated water filter available from outdoor equipment stores, at the Wilderness Center, or from the Yosemite Store online at www.yosemitestore.com.
Many wilderness trips begin at elevations much higher than you may be accustomed to and then go even higher. It’s a good idea to arrive a day early to let your body adapt to the thinner air. Don’t over-exert, and drink plenty of fluids to avoid altitude sickness.
Bear Proof Your Campsite
Yosemite’s black bears are clever and very persistent. If you fail to set up your camp and store your food and trash properly, your whole trip can be ruined. Always follow these six steps: 1. Use the food storage boxes
at your trailhead for keeping any food and left over trash that you will not be taking on your backpack trip. Never leave food, food-related supplies and trash in vehicles overnight. Remember to clear your car of food wrappers, dropped french fries, crumbs in baby seats, and baby wipes. Even canned food and drinks must be removed from your car. 2. Store your food and trash
in a bear-resistant food storage container. Weighing just 2.9 pounds and holding from 5 to 7 days worth of food for 1 person, the canisters are strongly encouraged by the National Park Service, and required above 9,600 feet. They are for sale and rent at the Wilderness Center, the Curry Village Mountain Shop, and the Village Sports Shop in Yosemite Valley, at the Crane Flat Store, at the Tuolumne Reservation Cabin and the Mountaineering School in Tuolumne Meadows, at the Wawona Information Station and the Wawona Store, at the Big Oak Flat Information Station, and at the Hetch Hetchy Information Station. 3. Hang your food and trash
and anything with an odor as instructed by the NPS if you don’t use a canister. Hang pots and pans from food bags as an alarm. Sleep 20 to 30 feet from where you hang items so you can hear the bear and scare it away as quickly as possible. 4. If a bear approaches
your camp, act immediately to scare it away. Yell and make as much noise as possible. Throw small rocks no larger than golf balls at the bear. Make noise and chase the bear. Multiple people chasing a bear increases effectiveness. 5. Always maintain a distance.
Do not advance on a bear that appears to feel threatened or cornered by you. Do not attempt to retrieve food or gear from a bear until the item is abandoned. 6. Keeping bears wild
is your responsibility. Please clean up and report all bear damage to a ranger. Improper food storage can result in the killing of bears addicted to human food and trash, personal injury, and property loss. Please do your part to keep Yosemite’s bears wild. Please note that these food storage regulations have the force and effect of federal law: Failure to store your food properly may result in impoundment of your personal belongings or car and/or a fine of up to $5,000 as well as revocation of your camping permit.
First Time California Visitors
For first time visitors to California arriving at San Francisco or Los Angeles airports, we would suggest the following automobile travel routes that include the following stops:
From San Francisco:
(a) San Francisco – Yosemite – Monterey Bay – San Francisco.
(b) San Francisco – Yosemite – Napa Wine Country – San Francisco.
(c) San Francisco – Yosemite – Lake Tahoe – San Francisco.
From Los Angeles:
(a) Los Angeles – Yosemite – Las Vegas (via Death Valley) – Los Angeles.
(b) Los Angeles – Yosemite – Mammoth Lakes – Los Angeles.
(c) Los Angeles – Yosemite – Santa Barbara – Los Angeles.
Los Angeles – Yosemite Valley – Napa Wine Country – San Francisco (or vice versa)Traveling without a personal vehicle? YARTS is the regional area transit system for Yosemite National Park and participating gateway communities. You can make a connection to YARTS from the Merced Amtrak, which connects to all major cities in California. Or if you are coming from San Francisco, consider California Parlor Car Tours.
Though just being in Yosemite should be enough to keep young people occupied and engaged, there are lots of activities and programs that will enhance their visit to the park. During your stay, be sure to check the Yosemite Today newspaper for scheduled events that are specially designed for kids.
Take a Hike
With just about every park locale offering flat to moderate walking, a family hike is a great way to burn youthful energy and to reach undeveloped, uncrowded spots with remarkable views and natural beauty. Take a picnic and make a day of it!
Enjoy a Bike Ride
The best park bicycle riding is in Yosemite Valley, which features miles of bike trails. Bring your own, or rent bicycles at Yosemite Lodge or Curry Village. Don’t forget your helmets.
Visit Happy Isles
The Nature Center at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley is devoted to kids, with wildlife exhibits, nightlife display and a number of other presentations. There are books for sale and “Explorer Packs” on a variety of topics can be checked out. They include activities for children designed to help them learn more about the natural world they live in.
Help Them Become Junior Rangers
Explore the Indian Gallery and Garden
Take in a Campfire Program
Winter Activities for Kids