Visiting Yosemite National Park, CA

Yosemite National Park is one of the oldest and most popular national parks in the United States, and you’ll soon learn why! The park features 1,200 square miles of natural wonders to take in by foot or by car. Learn how to plan the perfect visit to Yosemite National Park, tips on taking your kids, and the top sights to see!

Planning Your Visit to Yosemite National Park

As one of the most popular national parks, it should be no surprise that it can get quite crowded during the high season, which is summer. If you plan on going in the summer, prepare for lots of people. Try to get there early in the day, and don’t forget to make your reservation. While summer is the most popular time to visit Yosemite, there can be forest fires in the area that cause smoke to close down the park or impact visibility. 

Spring and fall are slightly less crowded and might be a good time to take your family. Winter still sees many visitors but is the park’s low season. If you visit in winter, be aware that the park’s northern routes are often closed due to snow.  

You can try to make the most out of a day trip, but it’s highly recommended that you spend a few days in this large, scenic park. There’s just so much to see and do! 

You can drive through the park and enjoy quite a bit from the car, but know that Yosemite offers some of the most beautiful hikes in the country.

Taking Your Kids to Yosemite National Park

Taking your kids to Yosemite National Park is the trip of a lifetime! There is something for everyone to enjoy while visiting this park. If you’re taking younger kids, choose any hikes or activities you think they can handle without pushing too much. Pack lots of snacks and tons of water. Don’t forget the sunscreen and to reapply often! 

Try to have a loose outline of what you hope to see but remember that you might have to wait because of crowds so consider activities for the car or games to play while at the park, such as I Spy, listing the license plates you see or writing down all the animal sightings. No matter what, you’ll have a wonderful time and make so many memories no matter what. 

Top Yosemite National Park Sights

There is so much to see at Yosemite National Park, but here are the four top sites that you need to see when you visit! 

Yosemite Valley – When you think of Yosemite, you likely think of Yosemite Valley. This stunning view features waterfalls, cliffs, meadows, and its world-renowned usual rock formations. Luckily, this spot is accessible by car all year long for everyone to enjoy!

Hetch Hetchy – The Hetch Hetchy Valley i nestles in the northwest corner of the park with stunning views all year long. 

Glacier Point – This popular overlook features breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls, and the Half Dome.

Mariposa Grove – Meet the Giant Sequoias inside the largest sequoia grove. Want to hug a tree? Bring some friends. The largest tree in the Mariposa Grove is the Grizzly Giant. This tree is 209 feet tall and has a base diameter of 27 feet! There are 500 Giant Sequoias in this grove to enjoy. 

Half Dome Hike –  Many avid hikers have this incredible hike on their bucket list. The Half Dome is known for its stunning views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, and the High Sierra that you can’t see anywhere else. This 14-16 mile hike takes 10-12 hours to complete and is for experienced hikers ready for a challenge. Learn more about obtaining a pass and other safety considerations for this hike of a lifetime.

The Natural Phenomenon of Horsetail FireFall

Have you ever seen a waterfall of fire? In February, if the conditions are just right, a natural phenomenon occurs during sunset at Horsetail Falls called FireFall. When the sunset light hits the waterfall at just the right spot, it looks like a fire is flowing over the mountains. Photographers and enthusiasts from all over come to try and capture a photo of this incredible natural effect.  If you’re interested in seeing this spectacular scene, plan on arriving early as parking lots fill up quickly, and there are fines for parking along the roadway. If you’re able to catch the FireFall, it’s an experience that you’ll never forget.

Photographer Ansel Adams Gallery

World-renowned photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams was passionate about capturing the beauty of Yosemite National Park. In fact, inside the park, you can find The Ansel Adams Gallery and view some of his greatest works. The gallery also has other art as well as a gift shop featuring prints, books, Native American jewelry, and other unique gifts. Since 1940, photographers worldwide have come here to learn more about the craft by taking classes and workshops led by instructors.

Yosemite National Park Family Photography

Imagine having your family portrait taken at Yosemite National Park! Rachael Venema Photography is only a two-hour drive away from the park and offers family portrait photography and children’s photography. As a Certified Professional Photographer, she can capture your family in one of the most beautiful places on Earth with a portrait you can treasure forever.