Places to Visit: Yosemite National Park

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Yosemite NP

Today, the romance with Yosemite, first cultivated by John Muir's writings about the Sierra Nevada, lives on. Travel the beautiful scenic roads between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park to see for yourself!

  • Road-trippers delight: Yosemite lies about 125 miles south of South Lake Tahoe (via Tioga Pass).
  • Open year-round but subject to closures. Call (209) 372-0200 for comprehensive information.
  • Be sure to make reservations (at least 3 months ahead) for campsites or historic hotel lodging.
  • So many highlights! Choose your own adventure: Tuolomne Meadowns, Half Dome, Inspiration Point, or Glacier Point. The list goes on.

Overview

You can thank John Muir for sparking the fire that brought about the creation of Yosemite National Park. His influence dates back to the 1890s. Today, this National Park covers 1200 square miles, with the mighty Merced River flowing through it, and offers some of the most indelible vista views in the country. Characteristic stone monuments dominate the landscape, causing little wonder as to why Yosemite has been central to America's romance with rock climbing.

This popular destination is accessible by 4 entrance roads: 3 on the west side and 1 on the east. Be sure to check ahead for season closures. Most of the Park's 13 campgrounds require reservation made well in advance of your stay. Those that are first-come, first-served often fill before noon. Wilderness permits are required for backcountry camping. These can be acquired at the Visitor Center in Yosemite Valley or at Tuolomne Meadows Visitor Center. Be bear (and other critters) aware!

Hours/Seasons

Open year-round with seasonal road closures. Call ahead for information.

  • Summer: June-September, High-Season. All roads open with Tioga Pass last to do so.
  • Fall: October-November. Short-term closures likely due to snow, with seasonal closures beginning in Nov.
  • Winter: December-March. Seasonal closures of Tioga Pass, Tuolomne Meadows access and Glacier Point Road.
  • Spring: April-May. Limited access with closures opening in late-May.

There is a $20 charge/car, ($10 on foot) providing access for 7 days.

Contact

  • Yosemite National Park, Information, (209) 372-0200.
  • Yosemite/Sierra Visitors Bureau, 41969 Highway 41, Oakhurst, CA, (559) 658-7588. 
  • Yosemite Park Lodging Reservations, (801) 559-4884, or call first number listed above.
  • Campground Reservations, (877) 444-6777.

Highlights

There's a lifetime's worth of activities for visitors of the Park. Here's a short list:

  • Yosemite Valley: For views of and access to Half Dome (suggested hike), El Capitan (climbers' paradise), and Bridalveil Falls (photographer's dream).
  • Yosemite Village: Hub for information and activities. Visit Yosemite Museum, Valley Visitor Center, Indian Village and Ahwanhee Hotel.
  • Tuolomne Meadows: Take a memorable hike; visit Soda Springs and historic Parsons Lodge (now a Nature Center open in Summer).
  • Inspiration Point: Located off Wawona Road (southern-most entrance), this short, strenuous hike affords breathtaking views.
  • Mariposa Grove: Also, off Wawona Road, near entrance, visit this grove of giant sequoia.

Getting Here

In the summer months, getting to Tioga Pass entrance of Yosemite National Park from South Lake Tahoe takes about 3 hours. From South Lake Tahoe, take Highway 89 south to 395 to Lee Vining (about 110 miles). From Lee Vining, head west about 12 miles. Tioga Road will bring you into the Park. In the snow season (which can last from October to June), this entrance will be closed. Alternative routes take about an hour longer, but all trips to Yosemite will be long remembered and rarely regretted.