Yosemite Village is the heart of the park, where you’ll find all of the main sights, lodging, and dining options. The village is also the primary access point for most visitors, so it’s a good benchmark to use as you plan your visit. If you have limited time in the park and want to see as many sights as possible, Yosemite Village is where you should start. The village is home to about 50 lodges and campgrounds that offer lodging and camping options throughout the year. Most of these accommodations are clustered along Tioga Road from Curry Village all the way up to Wawona Campground. As such, breaking up your visit into multiple days will help reduce traffic congestion and make your trip easier. We recommend staying at least one night in Yosemite Village if possible. It's much more than just a hub for visiting other parts of the park; it's also home to some of its best attractions.
Glacier Point is one of the most iconic sights in all of the National Parks. The views are simply awe-inspiring. The park’s highest point, point is reachable by a short hike from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, which is found inside the park’s borders. The hike is short and easy, but park regulations require that you leave your motorized vehicle along the road at the Visitor Center. The hike is also closed during the winter. Glacier Point is one of the most iconic sights in all of the National Parks.
This center is home to Yosemite’s resident herd of free-roaming black bears. The bears roamed the park for a long time, but in the mid-1980s, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife began a program to relocate the bears to preserves outside of California. Because the Yosemite Bear Wilderness is currently the only place the bears can naturally reside, the center here in Yosemite is the last place you’ll find bears living in the wild. The center also has interactive exhibits, a wildlife viewing tower, and a gift shop.
If you’re in Yosemite during the summer and looking for a quick and easy way to get up close to waterfalls, nothing is easier than a hike to Washburn Point. There are a number of trails that lead you to the edge of the cliff where you can look down at Yosemite Valley and see multiple waterfalls, including the 2,425-foot Upper Yosemite Fall and the 1,430-foot Lower Yosemite Fall. The hike is only four miles round trip, with the trail leading straight to the point. There is a parking lot, an overlook, and a ranger station on the trail, so you can expect a lot of foot traffic.
Olmsted Point is easily the most underrated spot in Yosemite Village, and it's one of the most underrated spots in all of the National Parks. The park’s official name is Yosemite National Park, but many of the park’s visitors know it by the name it was given by its founder, John Muir: “Ah, the sweet, sweet silence of Olmsted Point.”
Tuolumne Meadows is a popular destination in the summer. It’s a grassy and wooded area located just outside the Yosemite Village, and it’s great for hiking, biking, and exploring on foot. One of the most popular hiking trails in the park, the John Muir Trail, has a side trip that leads you to the edge of Tuolumne Meadows. This is where the side trip joins the main portion of the trail and gives you the option to stop and take in the views of the Tuolumne River and Tuolumne Meadows.
The Yosemite Museum is not only the park’s centerpiece museum, but it’s also the only museum in the entire National Park System that combines both a research library and a visitor center. It’s a great place to visit if you have kids because it offers hands-on activities and exhibits that will keep them entertained. The museum exhibits include artifacts from Yosemite’s past, including photographs, maps, and audio-visual displays.
Located at the visitor center, the Fallen Monarch Memorial is the only one of its kind in the world. It’s a memorial to the park’s fallen sequoias. While visiting Yosemite, make sure to stop at the Fallen Monarch Memorial to learn more about this fascinating and important part of the park’s history.
One of the most popular stops for visitors in Yosemite is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. This grove is found inside Yosemite National Park, and it’s home to the largest collection of giant sequoias in the world. There are a total of 26 different species of sequoias, including the Sequoia Gigantean, which is the largest species of tree in the world. The grove also includes a number of smaller specimens that make up the second-largest collection in the world. One of the most popular stops for visitors in Yosemite is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
Once the crown jewel of Yosemite’s attractions, Half Dome is now one of the least visited. The park is no longer honoring the “controversial” Half Dome permit system that had recently been in place, so there are no longer any restrictions on how many people can go up to the dome at any given time. And while the crowds are not as bad as they once were, they’re still noticeable. But even if you can’t be at the top with the rest of the tourists, you can still enjoy seeing the view from the bottom, and for free. The Half Dome Trail is a short hike that can be completed in just a few minutes. From the Yosemite Lodge at the start of Curry Village Road, the trail starts just uphill from the road. The trail makes its way to the base of the granite dome, and from there is a short walk to the top. The trail is accessible all year, but during the warmer months, it’s typically crowded.
Yosemite Valley is arguably the park’s most iconic landscape, and one of its main attractions. But it’s also one of the most popular places in the park, so it’s important to go when other parts of the park are less crowded. You’ll want to go during the off-season, during winter or spring, or on a weekend when the other parts of the park are less crowded. The valley is one of the most iconic sights in California and is one of the main reasons people visit the park. It’s easily one of the most popular places in the park, so you have to go when it’s not as crowded. During other times in the park, you can still see it from many of the park’s top destinations, like Yosemite Lodge. But you’ll have the optimal view from Tuolumne Meadows, where you’ll find some of the most open spaces in the park. And there are some other great spots to get a peek at the valley too, like Wawona and Big Oak Flat.
The Ahwahnee is one of the most iconic Yosemite structures, and a must-see for any visitor. It’s also one of the most expensive hotels in the park, so it’s important to go when there are few other tourists around. You’ll want to go during the off-season, during the winter or spring, or on a weekend when the other parts of the park are less crowded. The Ahwahnee is easily one of the most iconic structures in the park, and it’s a must-see for any visitor. The hotel’s architecture is inscribed on the National Register of Historic Places. But the hotel itself, with its signature domed restaurant, is far from the most important thing about it. The most important thing about the Ahwahnee is that it’s one of the least visited locations in the park. You’ll want to go during the off-season, during the winter or spring, or on a weekend when the other parts of the park are less crowded. And while it’s not impossible to visit the hotel, with its long and sometimes crowded lines, we recommend seeing the gardens or the views first. But once you’re done, you’ll still have an easier time getting into the hotel than in many other parts of the park.
Yosemite Park is an incredibly popular destination, so it’s important to go when there are few other tourists around. There are a few ways to do this, and one of the best is to visit during the off-season, winter or spring, or on a weekend when the other parts of the park are less crowded. This can help reduce the crowds at the iconic sights, like Half Dome and the valley, as well as at less popular locations, like Yosemite Valley View and the Ahwahnee. Visiting during the off-season will allow you to avoid the most crowded times of the year, like summer and spring. And visiting on weekends will help reduce the crowds at the park’s most popular locations, like Yosemite Valley View and the Ahwahnee.