Yosemite National Park boasts fantastic scenery all year round and you’re bound to have an amazing time no matter when you visit. That being said, the weather changes quite a bit from season to season and there are a few things you may want to consider before you plan your trip. How do you cope with bigger crowds? Are there certain hiking trails you want to do? Are you hoping to see the waterfalls at full blast? We’ve put together this guide to help you decide the best time to plan your Yosemite National park tour.
Average temperatures in Yosemite National Park
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Visiting Yosemite in spring
Best for: waterfalls, white water rafting, wildflowers
Yosemite starts to bounce back to life in spring. The weather gets warmer, flowers start to bloom and most hiking trails are reopened once the snow melts. It’s also the best time to see Yosemite’s abundant waterfalls thanks to melting snowcaps and spring showers – we know TLC said don’t go chasin' waterfalls, but in this case, you definitely should! The rivers and creeks are also in full flow, making it a great time to hop into a river raft to brace the white water rapids.
Visiting Yosemite in summer
Best for: swimming, wildflowers, hiking
With hot days and loads of sunshine, summer is when the crowds flock to Yosemite in the thousands. Don’t let this put you off too much, as you can still have an amazing trip in the peak season. It’s prime time for camping and all hiking trails are open. If you get too hot, you can cool down in the gorgeous Cathedral Lakes or Tenaya Lakes, but it's not a great time to see waterfalls and most of them are completely dry by August. Summer is a spectacular time of year to see the valleys and meadows erupt in colour, with places like Tuolumne Meadows where you'll find purple shooting stars, pussy toes and little elephant heads – it's a real treat for the eyes (and the nose).
Visiting Yosemite in fall
Best for: hiking, smaller crowds
Yosemite isn’t as dramatic as other US national parks in the fall because most of the trees are evergreen, but you can still find pockets of gorgeous golden colour in Yosemite Valley and Wawona Meadows. The weather can be a little unpredictable in fall, but usually, the days are warm and the nights are cool so you'll need a warm sweater to pop on when the sun goes down. This type of weather makes for perfect hiking conditions as it's not super hot. The hiking trails are also less crowded as most tourists have headed home after the busy summer vacation period.
Visiting Yosemite in winter
Best for: winter sports, exploring in solitude, magical winter landscapes
Winter is a beautiful time in Yosemite with frost-covered trees, white peaks and blankets of snow in the valleys. The big crowds are long gone and you’ll be able to explore the park in solitude. Some roads and hiking trails are closed due to heavy snowfall, but it's an awesome time to do go on a snowshoeing adventure, hit the slopes at Badger Pass or go ice skating at Curry Village. For winter trips, you'll need proper winter gear including thermals, a waterproof winter coat and waterproof pants.
Our Yosemite National Park tours