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Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Things to do in  Yosemite National Park

Welcome to Yosemite National Park

You’ve seen Ansel Adams’ black-and-white photographs. You’ve got the wallpaper on your laptop. But nothing can prepare you for witnessing Yosemite in real life. Mammoth granite walls tower over giant sequoias, flowing rivers, and golden valley meadows in this pinch-yourself-to-believe-it national park. You can see Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls—the most popular things to do—on a day trip. But pack your hiking boots (or climbing shoes) and stay a while to uncover the enduring magic of this California icon.

Top 15 attractions in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Falls

The highest measured waterfall in North America and the sixth-highest in the world, Yosemite Falls is the superstar attraction in Yosemite National Park. With a cumulative drop of 2,425 feet (739 meters), Yosemite Falls comprises three falls and is especially stunning in late spring when the snow melts and water flow is at its peak.More

El Capitan

El Capitan is the largest exposed-granite monolith in the world and among the most popular rock-climbing destinations in the US. Rising 3,593 feet (1095 meters) above Yosemite Valley, El Capitan was once considered impossible to climb. However, since Warren Harding first conquered the "nose" in 1958, El Capitan has become the standard for big-wall climbing.More

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley is the heart of Yosemite National Park and the place to see all of the well-known sights, from El Capitan and Half Dome to Bridalveil and Yosemite Falls. The valley is also a paradise for outdoorsy travelers; visit for endless opportunities to enjoy hiking, climbing, photography, and other types of adventures.More

Tunnel View

Tunnel View is the most visited scenic overlook in Yosemite and the site of Ansel Adams’ famous shot. When driving into Yosemite National Park from the south, Tunnel View offers your first glimpse into Yosemite Valley. At the end of a tunnel, a magical valley is revealed, with towering granite peaks and domes, and waterfalls spilling over cliffs.More

Half Dome

Iconic Half Dome rises 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) above the floor of Yosemite Valley. Perhaps one of the most famous hikes in Yosemite National Park, Half Dome was once considered impossible to climb. Now hundreds of park visitors reach this magnificent granite formation’s summit each day, and countless more gaze at its towering face from below.More

Bridalveil Fall

One of the first waterfalls that you'll see as you enter Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall is a towering, plunge-type waterfall measuring some 620 feet (188 meters) in height. It flows year-round and reaches its peak around May. On windy days, it sometimes almost looks like the waterfall is falling sideways.More

Tuolumne Grove

Home to towering Sequoia trees, Tuolumne Grove is one of the most popular day hikes in Yosemite National Park. The hike to the grove is relatively short—only 2.5 miles (4km) round trip—and generally takes around two hours including the stops to crane your neck skyward and admire the ancient trees. One of the park’s three Sequoia groves, Tuolumne Grove is home to 25 of the massive trees, and also includes a “drive through tree,” which although it is no longer open to vehicles, makes for one of the more interesting photos you’ll take when visiting the park.To learn more about the history of the grove, as well as the trees themselves, you can join in a guided hike to the grove when the trail is open in summer, or experience having the grove to yourself on a snowshoeing trip in winter.More

Ansel Adams Gallery

Ansel Adams is known for his striking black-and-white photos, capturing and preserving the wild beauty of nature’s monuments. Through his poignant images of Half Dome and Vernal Fall, Yosemite became a symbol for the evocative drama of the American West, and the park took its place in the hearts and consciousness of the American public.More

Glacier Point

Yosemite National Park’s Glacier Point affords an incomparable bird’s-eye view over Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls, all with very little physical effort involved. Don't miss the small Geology Hut situated to the side of the paved trail leading to the main overlook either, which shows how the valley has changed over the course of the last 10 million years.More

Ahwahnee Hotel

Of all Yosemite’s lodging options, the Ahwahnee Hotel (formerly the Majestic Yosemite Hotel) stands out not only for its location—you can see Yosemite Falls from the legendary dining room—but also for its interior, redolent of Yosemite’s early years. And you don’t need to book a room to enjoy this National Historic Landmark.More

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is home to more than 500 mature giant sequoias, the world’s largest tree species. Nestled within Yosemite National Park, this spot is easy to access from the road and contains 1,900-year-old trees up to 210 feet (64 meters) tall.More

Tioga Pass

Tioga Pass is the only entrance on the eastern side of Yosemite National Park. At 9,941 feet high, it is the highest point on the mountain drive and one of the most scenic in the park. Views of the surrounding forests and mountains are worth the drive alone, but if you’re after one of the park’s many hiking trails the trailheads for Gaylor Peak, Tioga Peak, and the Twenty Lake Loop are all nearby. For a less active experience, Tioga Lake offers picnic facilities and trout fishing close by.Driving to and through the Tioga Pass is an adventure: full of tight curves and steep drop-offs. But you’ll be rewarded with some of the most beautiful views in Yosemite Valley, and once you reach the pass you’ll be in the park itself. The road through the Sierra Nevada mountain range is the highest highway pass in California.More

Tuolumne Meadows

Located in the eastern portion of Yosemite National Park, Tuolumne Meadows provides a peaceful alternative to the popular Yosemite Valley region of the park. A large, subalpine meadow surrounded by high granite domes and majestic peaks, Tuolumne Meadows is home to a vast array of wildlife, hiking trails, pristine alpine lakes, and world-class rock climbing.More

Mist Trail

Hiking the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal and Nevada Falls is one of the most popular day hikes in Yosemite National Park. As you climb to the top of Vernal Fall, you’ll quickly find out how the Mist Trail got its name. The path hugs the cliff along the river and the spray coming off the falls drenches hikers.More

Sentinel Dome

Though not as well known as Yosemite’s famous Half Dome, at 4,150 feet high a climb up Sentinel Dome offers some incredible 360 degree views of the national park. The 2.6 mile hike up is well-marked with signs and is easy to follow. From the gently-rounded top you can see the whole of Yosemite Valley, including Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, El Capitan, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The trail is mostly flat, except for the granite slope to the summit.Sentinel Dome first became known for the lone Jeffrey Pine tree that grew from its peak. The tree is no longer there, but was well-documented by photographer Ansel Adams. The dome is a sight in itself, but the real rewards are the views from atop. It’s a good alternative to the often crowded viewpoints of Glacier Point, and is particularly scenic during the sunset hours.More

Top activities in Yosemite National Park

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Recent reviews from experiences in Yosemite National Park

The best way to see Yosemite!
Lynne_F, Feb 2023
Full-Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour Including Hotel Pickup
The best way to see Yosemite!
Sharon_K, Feb 2023
San Francisco to Yosemite One-Way Transfer
We were fortunate to see Horse Tail Falls— Fire Fall.
Great tour experience
LuizFernando_E, Nov 2022
Full-Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour Including Hotel Pickup
I just had one day available to visit Yosemite and the tour allowed me to have an excellent experience.
Great access to the park's beauty!
Marie_H, Feb 2023
Jeep 4 X 4 Yosemite Park Tour with Hotel Pickup
I highly recommend this tour that gets you close to falls where you don't need to worry about parking and the ability to get back in a warm car in February was a plus.
We’ll worth it!!
Bobby_J, Sep 2022
Yosemite Valley & Glacier Point Adaptive Tour
Nate took us to see rock climbing at El Capitan.
Great Tour and Guide
Gary_D, Sep 2022
Private Hummer 4 X 4 Tour of Yosemite Including Hotel Pickup
It was our first time and this was a great way to see Yosemite
Awesome your!!!
Rafael_M, Aug 2022
Semi Private Yosemite Tour with Ahwahnee Lunch - with Hotel Pickup !
We recommend Crossroad Tours to all of you who want to visit this amazing national park, and ask for Mick.
Giant Sequoia's were awesome!!!!
Joyce_H, Aug 2022
Off-Road Giant Sequoia 4x4 Tour
We were staying in Yosemite West during the Washburn fire so we were unable to see the giant sequoias in the park.
Amazing tour of Yosemite!!
Frank_L, Oct 2022
Full-Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour Including Hotel Pickup
We got to see so many things!
Great trip. Worth the price.
Jeffrey_W, May 2022
Jeep 4 X 4 Yosemite Park Tour with Hotel Pickup
Seeing the Yosemite Falls was a terrific experience and seeing the rock climbers on the mountains was really neat.
Absolutely a great experience!
Lori_L, Sep 2022
Full-Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour Including Hotel Pickup
Tour of as perfect to see highlights of Yosemite in a day.
Personal hiking for beginners
Hiking, Jun 2020
Guided Yosemite Hiking Excursion
Personal attention to our wants and needs made this the best way to see the highlights of Yosemite!
Great tours and great guide.
Zachary_B, Sep 2018
Yosemite Valley Private Hiking Tour
He took us the best routes and we were able to see amazing things that we wouldn’t have unless we booked the tour.
Our tour guide was very informational...
e_hammontree, Dec 2017
Yosemite Valley Private Winter Hiking Tour
We toured Yosemite Falls, the valley as well as Mirror Lake.
The perfect day trip around Yosemite!
Becky_L, May 2022
Semi Private Yosemite Tour with Ahwahnee Lunch - with Hotel Pickup !
Daniel took us to so many beautiful view points & waterfalls, and so much more.
What a great day!
Penny_D, Sep 2022
Full-Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour Including Hotel Pickup
We were touring California and only had one full day in Yosemite, so this was a great way to see a lot in a short time.
Amazing Experience
Trek393515, Apr 2019
Private Guided Hiking Tour in Yosemite
We started at lower Yosemite falls and ended at Mirror Lake.
Awesome tour
Kathleen C, Jul 2018
Yosemite Valley Tour with Transport from Oakhurst
The trip took us almost 11 hours since it included Glacier Point however it was the best way to see everything and not have to deal with parking.
Excellent guided tour of just a...
Tom R, Apr 2018
Private Family Hike in Yosemite
We went on about a 6 mile hike, with a rise in elevation of 1400', and saw a number of Yosemite's highlights, including Half Dome and El Capitan, as well as tons of waterfalls, rock formations, and other natural wonders.
I am finally getting around to...
Theresa G, Sep 2017
Guided Yosemite Hiking Excursion
The views from all of those spots were breathtaking, and it was a beautiful way to see the best of Yosemite.
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All about Yosemite National Park

When to visit

Yosemite is glorious in any season, but it’s easiest to visit the national park in spring (March–April) and fall (October–November). Both seasons have smaller crowds than summer. In spring, you get thundering waterfalls from winter’s runoff; in fall, you get beautiful autumn colors and a chance to see wildlife busy preparing for winter’s arrival. It’s easier to book in-park lodging in these months, too.

Getting around

Unlike many national parks, you have lots of options for getting around Yosemite National Park. Having a car is certainly the simplest, though from late May to late September, you’ll need a reservation to enter the park between 10am–4pm. Hikers and backcountry campers have plenty of options for off-grid, sustainable adventures thanks to the Yosemite Valley Shuttle System, Mariposa Grove Shuttle, Tuolumne Meadows Shuttle, Yosemite Valley-Tuolumne Meadows hikers’ bus, and Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System or YARTS.

Traveler tips

To get away from what can feel like the world’s largest parking lot, park your car early in the morning, go off into Mother Nature (bring a picnic!), and come back at the end of the day. Or opt for one of Yosemite National Park’s less popular spots, such as Chilnualna Falls, Hetch Hetchy reservoir, or Tuolumne Meadows, all with trails far away from that river of brake lights. Don’t worry—these less popular spots are just as beautiful.

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People Also Ask

What is the biggest attraction in Yosemite National Park?

The biggest attraction in Yosemite National Park is Yosemite Falls in Yosemite Valley. Cascading some 2,425 feet (739 meters), it’s one of the world’s tallest waterfalls. It’s visible from Yosemite Valley Visitor Center and Loop Trail. View El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Falls from this scenic valley, too.

What activities do people enjoy doing at Yosemite National Park?

As one of the country’s most popular national parks, there are many things to do at Yosemite National Park. You can go hiking, touring, and wildlife viewing. Or go picnicking, backpacking, biking, fishing, rock climbing, and camping. Others like to take photographs and scope out historic lodges like The Ahwahnee.

What should you not miss in Yosemite National Park?

The crown jewel of Yosemite National Park is Yosemite Valley, which is about 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) long and easily driveable. It’s where many of the park’s famous icons can be seen—including Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and Bridalveil Fall. Hiking trails wind along the valley as well.

What are three things you can do at Yosemite National Park?

If you do three things at Yosemite National Park, make one of them hiking around the park’s magnificent waterfalls—either Yosemite Falls or Bridalveil Falls. You’ll also want to scope out the Giant Sequoias in Mariposa Grove and stop at the panoramic overlooks at Tunnel View and Glacier Point.

What is fun about Yosemite National Park?

Yosemite National Park is fun to hike, bike, and drive through to gawk at its beauty. Have fun seeing its “cathedral” of granite, littered with waterfalls, wildflower-rich meadows, and a very scenic valley. Most visitors do a combination of hiking and driving to appreciate the park.

How many days do you need to see Yosemite National Park?

You can do Yosemite Valley—the iconic portion of Yosemite National Park—in one day, with time to drive through the valley, stop at overlooks, and take a short hike. But with two or three days, you can stop at Mariposa Grove, south of the valley, and the scenic Tuolumne Meadows area.


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