Giant waterfalls, majestic peaks and epic hiking trails – Yosemite National Park will have you California dreamin’, that’s for sure.

Yosemite (yow·seh·muh·tee) National Park is bursting with bucket list-worthy adventures. With dramatic mountain ranges, crystal clear lakes, pristine alpine valleys and some of the world's best hiking trails, you’ll get a hearty serving of nature and adventure. Our local guides will help you discover the best bits of Yosemite as well as some hidden trails and secret spots along the way. Marvel at the ancient sequoia trees (the tallest trees on earth), go rock climbing up the famous El Capitan, follow the Mist Trail to the thundering Vernal Falls, and watch the sky turn spectacular shades of pink and purple as the sun sets over Glacier Point. With so much to see and do, one trip to Yosemite will never be enough. 

Our Yosemite National Park tours

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Explore the Sierra Nevada Range on a 5-day small group hiking tour which includes...

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Tailor-Made trips

Take two or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary

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Top things to do in Yosemite National Park

A view of El Capitan, a giant granite monolith in Yosemite National Park

Hike or climb El Capitan

Can you believe Alex Honnold free climbed this 3,000 feet granite monolith without a rope? Watch the documentary 'Free Solo' if you haven’t already! El Capitan is one of the most popular rock climbing spots in Yosemite and is a must for avid rock climbers or anyone up for a challenge. If scrambling up rocks isn’t your thing, the trails around the base of El Capitan are just as impressive.

The base of the giant sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove, Yosemite NP

Walk in Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias

Take a stroll in Mariposa Grove and feel humbled by the presence of the giant sequoia trees – the tallest tree on earth. Sequoias grow up to 279 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter and Yosemite Valley is the only place in the world where they live natively. They are also the third-oldest tree species (the oldest being over 3,000 years old). Standing among these gentle giants makes you feel tiny in the best possible way.

A view of the Half Dome summit in Yosemite National Park

Hike Half Dome

Half Dome is a 17-mile hike that reaches 4500 ft in elevation. It’s a strenuous trail that involves climbing up Sub Dome – a very steep cliff lined with cables to help you ascend – before reaching the summit. This is a once-in-a-lifetime trail that offers incredible views of the entire valley. Even if you don’t make it past Sub Dome, you’ll still see some of Yosemite’s gems including Vernal and Nevada Falls on the first part of the trail.  

The water of Yosemite Falls plunging into the river

Explore Yosemite’s lush waterfalls

Did you know Yosemite is one of the only places in the US where you can see rainbows at night? This happens when a clear sky and bright full moon create enough light to produce a rainbow from the mist. Discover more than 25 waterfalls including the magnificent Yosemite Falls (one of the tallest in the world), Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. If you go during winter, make sure you look out for the ice cone at the base of the upper Yosemite Falls. 

A sunset view of Cathedral Lakes, Yosemite National Park

Take a dip in Cathedral Lakes

Most people hike down to Cathedral Lakes for a pretty picnic, but we have a better idea: take a plunge into the crystal clear, ice-cold water before coming up for air to see the huge steeple-looking peak towering over you. The views (and maybe the cold water) will take your breath away. If cold water isn’t your thing, the trails around these glacially carved lakes give you stunning views with some great resting spots.

A stunning pink sunset sky at Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park

Watch the sunset at Glacier Point

Grab your camera and hike to Glacier Point to watch the sunset over Yosemite Valley – you won’t want to miss this one! Watch the cliffs glow like embers and the sky turn into a cotton candy canvas of red, orange, pink and purple. Make sure to head there early if you want to find a good spot as it gets pretty busy. It’s also a very special spot to watch the sunrise over Half Dome (you’ll also beat the big crowds). 

Yosemite National Park tour reviews

Yosemite National Park FAQs

Yosemite is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central California, USA.

It takes about four hours to drive to Yosemite from San Francisco and three hours from Sacramento. Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) provides a public bus service with various pickup and drop off points. You can also catch a train from San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento to Merced/Riverbank which connects with the YARTS bus service directly to Yosemite Valley.  

The closest airport to Yosemite is the Fresno-Yosemite International Airport (FAT). Other airports within driving distance of the park are San Francisco International Airport (SFO), San Jose International Airport (SJC) and Oakland International Airport (OAK). 

As Yosemite is so big, the best way to get around the park and access the main trails is by car. There is a free daily shuttle bus every 10-20 mins with 19 stops throughout the Yosemite Valley, but having a car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. 

Yosemite has a huge number of visitors during the summer months with the peak season from June and August. The best time to visit is late spring, later summer and early fall when the park isn’t too crowded. Winter is also a great time to visit with fewer visitors, great hiking opportunities and stunning views of the snow-capped mountains. 

You can expect to see many different animal species in Yosemite including American Black Bears, Mule Deer, Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, Coyotes, Bobcats, Sierra Fence Lizards, Garter Snakes, Northern Pygmy Owls and more. Keep an eye out for animal tracks when you’re out hiking. 

The weather in Yosemite is seasonal but it can vary greatly from year to year. Spring is generally quite cool with sunny skies and the occasional downpour of rain; summer is consistently sunny with warm to hot temperatures; fall is still warm with cool nights; and winter is cold with frost, ice and snow.  

Read more about the weather in Yosemite

If you go during the summer make sure to bring t-shirts, shorts/skirts, hiking socks and boots, hiking trousers, a waterproof/windproof jacket, sunhat, sunglasses, daypack, a water bottle, sunscreen and insect repellent.  

For winter trips bring light layers, warm clothes, a fleece, thermal underwear/leggings, a waterproof winter coat, waterproof hiking boots/shoes, gloves, a hat, a daypack, sunglasses, sunscreen and a water bottle. 

Read more about what to pack for Yosemite

 

Cell phones work near major tourist hubs such as Yosemite Valley, but the service can be weak and unreliable. There is limited or no cell phone service in more remote areas of the park such as hiking trails and high-altitude viewpoints.   

Yosemite is very accessible for people with disabilities with disabled parking and wheelchair accessible trails for most sites. They can also arrange American Sign Language interpretation for ranger talks during the summer months. Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travelers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries. 

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

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