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Overview

A jewel in the crown of the U.S. national park system, Yosemite National Park abounds in superlatives, drawing millions of visitors in summer to bicycle, hike, fish, and camp. Deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this astonishingly beautiful and rugged wilderness encompasses 1,170 square miles of alpine lakes, pristine forests, and dramatic peaks. Hewn by ancient glaciers, U-shaped Yosemite Valley features the sheerest walls in the world, and some of the tallest waterfalls (Yosemite Falls cascades 2,425 feet in three stages). The valley was once home to the Miwok Indians; the Indian Cultural Museum honors their culture.

In ...

A jewel in the crown of the U.S. national park system, Yosemite National Park abounds in superlatives, drawing millions of visitors in summer to bicycle, hike, fish, and camp. Deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this astonishingly beautiful and rugged wilderness encompasses 1,170 square miles of alpine lakes, pristine forests, and dramatic peaks. Hewn by ancient glaciers, U-shaped Yosemite Valley features the sheerest walls in the world, and some of the tallest waterfalls (Yosemite Falls cascades 2,425 feet in three stages). The valley was once home to the Miwok Indians; the Indian Cultural Museum honors their culture.

In summer, the park can be traversed via Highway 120 to Tuolumne Meadows — a lovely alpine grassland in the heart of the high country. Miles of trails snake through the pine forests and alpine meadows, including the 250-mile-long John Muir Trail, connecting Yosemite to Sequoia National Park. Adventurous hikers can even follow the Pacific Crest Trail, which follows the Great Divide from Canada to Mexico. Other summer options include tubing the Merced River and horseback rides. Early summer is best for Yosemite Valley, when spring run-off fills the falls and the midsummer hordes have not yet arrived. Late summer is best for Tuolumne Meadows and the backcountry.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in the central eastern portion of the U.S. state of California.
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Can be crowded in midsummer. Weekdays offer some relief, as do shoulder months: April-May and October.