Planning Trip to Yosemite National Park for First Timers

planning trip to Yosemite

Yosemite is probably the first name that comes to mind when we think of national parks in the USA – as a photographer once said, ‘it’s hard to take a picture of Yosemite that isn’t great’. Once you come here, you would want to come back again and again. The stunning beauty of every corner of this place makes millions of travelers and photographers keep planning trips to Yosemite every year. If you are planning a trip to Yosemite, this article is for you.

Around 165 miles away from San Francisco, Yosemite National Park awaits its visitors with breathtaking views and refreshing serenity. The western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains offer some of the best waterfalls and over five vegetation zones. But they are not the only reason for planning trip to Yosemite. Yosemite Valley offers awe-inspiring scenic beauty that accounts for more than four million footfalls around the year. So whether it is the ethereal waterfalls like Horsetail fall or Bridalveil fall or the majestic El Capitan or Half Dome, whatever your reason is for planning trip to Yosemite, be assured that you are in for a treat for all your senses and your soul.

Planning Trip to Yosemite National Park – Best Months

Different people have different reasons to visit Yosemite Valley which is open around the year. However, if you are planning trip to Yosemite for the first time, then the best time to visit would be between May and September. The weather is just right with minimum rainfall and a lot of sunshine around this time. The temperature is pleasant and dry, and that means you can enjoy the various hiking trails dotting Yosemite Valley.

If you are planning trip to Yosemite from May to September, you can enjoy many activities inside the park. Since the park is fully open during this peak season, there are many facilities that you can avail including guided hikes, lodging, and shuttle services. Plus, the scenic beauty is also at its peak with the winter just gone by and spring settling in. That said, it is also important to note that since this is the peak season time, so you must book in advance to avoid any hindrances due to the lack of vacancies. Also, you might find the services a bit on the expensive side as this is the time when the crowd is at its maximum.

planning trip to Yosemite

If you want to enjoy discounted rates, then the best time for planning trip to Yosemite is from October to February, which is the off-season time. But most of the park is closed down during that time and you can enjoy only some activities, mostly indoors. Outdoor activities include skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, snow tubing, winter camps, and ranger-led hikes.

A lot of photographers visit Yosemite National Park in February to capture the golden glow of the Horsetail Waterfall. The Horsetail Waterfall is a seasonal waterfall that falls 2030 feet down on the eastern side of El Capitan. So why do the photographers plan their trip to Yosemite in February? The reason is that for a few weeks in this month, the sun sets in such a position that it lights up the Horsetail Waterfall. The waterfall appears to be on fire and that’s why sometimes it is called ‘The Firefall’.

planning trip to Yosemite
Image Credit: Shutterstock

How many days should you spend in Yosemite National Park?

Yosemite National Park is spread across twelve hundred square miles offering magisterial cliffs, exquisite waterfalls, granite monoliths, glacier-carved valleys, and the Merced River running through it all. When you are planning a trip to Yosemite, you want enough time to catch up on all the mesmerizing beauty of this national park.

So you can plan anywhere between two to five days for Yosemite National Park. If you are using the services of a tour package, then check out the number of days they have planned in their itinerary. If you wish to go for hikes or want to camp in the sprawling meadows then you must plan for a minimum of three days (the best is four days) as you would love to stop, explore, gaze, and soak up all of what Yosemite has in store for you.

Yosemite is a great destination if you are planning a weekend trip. M
ake sure you keep all the main attractions for these 2 days.

Day 1

On the first day, you can visit Tunnel View which offers a panoramic view of Yosemite National Park. After that, you can check out the Bridalveil Fall, the 3000 feet high El Capitan on the left, and the Half Dome in the background. It is a must to hike the Cook’s Meadow Trail which will give you a good view of Yosemite Falls (which is the tallest waterfall in North America), the Valley, and the Half Doom. This is an easy hike and also offers a lot of attractions for charmed tourists. If you are visiting in the summer, you will find the meadows lush green and if you are visiting in the fall, the meadow offers a nice autumn shade of orange and yellow.

planning trip to Yosemite

Day 2

On the second day, you can plan for the Mist Trail which is a bit tougher than the first one, but the views and sights are worth the effort. You will come across Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls on your way. You can continue onto the next trail – John Muir Trail, which yet again offers some more amazing views of Nevada Falls, Half Dome, and Liberty Cap.

plan your visit to Mist Trail
Image Credit: iStock

Planning a trip to Yosemite – how much will it cost?

If you are planning a trip to Yosemite, you should have a budget of more than $100 per day which is an average based on what visitors to this national park spend. You can expect an expense of $30 – $35 on meals and an equal amount on local transportation. Hotels and Airbnb for a couple are more than $100. However, you can book tour packages which will help planning trip to Yosemite at a discounted price. You can further cut costs by planning a trip to Yosemite during the off-season.  

Conclusive Insight

So if you are planning trip to Yosemite for the first time, you can use this article to fix your itinerary. You can spend a day, two days, or a week here. Depending upon the number of days and the budget you allocate, a good plan can help you to thoroughly enjoy this beautiful national park.