Overview"It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter." ~ John Muir
Yosemite National Park is quite simply one of the most beautiful places on Earth. From Yosemite Valley with its huge granite cliffs and very tall waterfalls (Yosemite Falls at 2,425 feet is the 3rd tallest in the world) to Tuolumne Meadows, the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada, it is all spectacular, majestic, and grand. Better yet, 95% of Yosemite is designated Wilderness and only accessible by foot or on horseback. You just gotta love that!
Yosemite was the 4th National Park created in the United States. It followed Yellowstone, Sequoia, and General Grant (now Kings Canyon) in 1890. But before that, Yosemite was protected as a state park in 1864 and was protected before Yellowstone was. Some believe Yosemite may thus be considered America’s oldest National Park. It was only a quirk of history that when Yellowstone was made a park in 1872 it couldn’t be given to a state to manage, since the state of Wyoming did not exist then.
Yosemite is 761,236 acres large, about the size of the state of Rhode Island. Elevations range from 2,000 feet at the Merced River up to 13,114 feet at Mt. Lyell's summit. The park includes 800 miles of hiking trails, nearly 240 species of birds, 80 species of mammals, 1,400 species of flowering plants and 37 types of trees including the largest trees on Earth, the giant sequoia. There are three groves of giant sequoias in the park: the Tuolumne, Merced, and Mariposa.
The park is open all year. In spring and early summer the waterfalls are at their peak and wildflowers grace mountain meadows. In late summer the weather is beautiful and the high country opens up to hikers and peak climbers. In fall the oaks on the west side and the aspen on the east put on quite a color show. In winter snow blankets the mountains and invites skiers and snowshoers to explore.
The original native word for Yosemite Valley was Ahwahnee which meant "Place of the Gaping Mouth." The name Yosemite was first applied in the 1850s by Dr. L.H. Bunnell, who suggested naming the place after its resident native population. Bunnell believed that early derived from the Miwok name for grizzly bear, O-hoo-ma-te. More recently, historians have suggested the word derives instead from "Yehemite" which means "they are killers" and was possibly a reference to the historic mistrust between Miwok and Mono Lake Paiute groups.
Getting There and Public Transportation
Yosemite has four main road entrances...
There are two western entrances, Highways 120 and 140. Highway 120 is called the Big Oak Flat Entrance and it is 88 miles east of Manteca. Highway 140 is referred to as the Arch Rock Entrance and it is 75 miles northeast of Merced.
The southern entrance is Wawona which is 64 miles north of Fresno via Highway 41.
The eastern entrance is the Tioga Pass Entrance, which is 12 miles west of Lee Vining via Highway 120. It is open during the summer/fall months only (late May through mid-November, weather permitting). Glacier Point Road, beyond Badger Pass Ski Resort, is also open in the summer and fall months only.
The park is approximately 4 1/2 hours from San Francisco and 6 hours from Los Angeles. In winter, the least mountainous route to Yosemite Valley is Highway 140 through Mariposa. Beware of a recent one-way bridge detour on Highway 140 because there was a huge rockslide. When traveling through the Sierra Nevada from September through June, you should always carry chains in your car, as weather conditions can change unexpectedly. Chains may be required on park roads at any time.
Although you can drive your car to Yosemite Valley year-round, no gas is sold in the Valley and it can get very congested with traffic. Gas is sold at Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows and El Portal, but for quite a markup. Please consider alternate modes of transportation on your next visit to the park. You may save your money and your sanity that way.
The Fresno-Yosemite International Airport is the nearest major airport, located 64 miles from Wawona, Yosemite's southern entrance. Merced Airport, only serving flights to Los Angeles, is 73 miles from Arch Rock, one of the park's west entrances. It is served by United Express. The Reno/Tahoe International Airport is another option that's convenient when the Tioga Road is open.
Amtrak trains from Oakland connect with buses destined for Yosemite. Each afternoon, buses depart Yosemite Lodge to connect with Amtrak trains in Merced for the return trip. Call Amtrak at (800) USA-RAIL or visit the Web site at www.AMTRAK.com for the latest schedules and dates.
Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) provides bus service between local communities (Mariposa, Merced, and Mono County Region) and Yosemite National Park. Summer service runs from May through September, along Highway 140, Highway 120 East, and Highway 120 West, as well as Highway 41. Winter service runs along Highway 140 only from September through May. Rates are affordable, ranging from approximately $7-$20, with discounts for children and seniors. The park entrance fee is included. For more information, contact YARTS toll free at 1-877-98-YARTS or locally at (209) 388-9589. Find detailed YARTS schedule information at www.yarts.com.
The free Yosemite Valley Shuttle system provides convenient access around eastern Yosemite Valley all year and between eastern Yosemite Valley and El Capitan during summer. The bus stops at or near all overnight accomodations, stores, and major vistas in eastern Yosemite Valley. The El Capitan shuttle (mid June through September) stops at El Capitan, Four Mile trailhead, and Valley Visitor Center. Visitors are strongly encouraged to use the shuttle bus instead of driving around eastern Yosemite Valley. Map of shuttle bus route can be found here.
The free Wawona-Mariposa Grove Shuttle bus shuttles passengers between Wawona and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias spring through fall. The bus picks up and drops off passengers at the Wawona Store, South Entrance, and at the Mariposa Grove Gift Shop. The Mariposa Grove Road closes several times each day from spring through fall when the parking lot becomes full. Visitors arriving on the shuttle bus are guaranteed access into the Mariposa Grove even when the parking lot is closed (as a result of being full).
The free Badger Pass Shuttle bus provides service twice daily between Yosemite Valley and Badger Pass ski area whenever the facilities at Badger Pass are open (typically mid December through mid March).
The free Tuolumne Meadows Shuttle bus provides convenient access throughout the Tuolumne Meadows area between the Tuolumne Lodge and Olmsted Point (including Tenaya Lake) during the summer (typically mid June through early September).
Tuolumne Meadows Hikers' Bus (fee)
The Tuolumne Meadows Hikers' Bus provides convenient access along the Tioga Road for hikers wanting to begin a hike along the Tioga Road. The bus leaves Yosemite Valley each morning (July through Labor Day) with stops at Crane Flat, White Wolf, and Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. Charge depends on where you are dropped off. To guarantee seating, hikers must purchase tickets one day in advance (209/372-1240). Visit the DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite web site for information about this and other tours in Yosemite National Park.
Glacier Point Hikers' Bus (fee)
The Glacier Point Hikers' Bus provides convenient access to Glacier Point for hikers wanting to begin a hike at Glacier Point and end elsewhere or for visitors not wanting to drive to Glacier Point. Visitors may ride the bus to Glacier Point and hike down, or hike up and return by bus. To guarantee seating, hikers must purchase tickets one day in advance (209/372-1240). Visit the DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite web site for information about this and other tours in Yosemite National Park.
Link to more detailed maps online
Weather and WebCams
Yosemite typically has warm, dry summers, mild, pleasant springs and falls, and cool winters. Higher elevations receive lots of snow, but the valley tends to get much less. Whatever the season, it’s best to dress in layers.
Yosemite Forecast from the National Weather Service
The park entrance fee applies to all visitors. If you arrrive in your private car, the entrance fee is $20 per car and is valid for seven days.
$10 per person if arriving on foot, horseback, motorcycle, or on a non-commercial bus (free for those 15 years old and younger).
These passes admit the pass owner and any accompanying passengers in a private car. Purchase these passes at any park entrance station.
Yosemite Annual Pass: good for entrance to Yosemite National Park for one year, cost is $40
America the Beautiful Federal Lands Recreation Annual Pass: good for entrance to all National Parks, National Forests, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife, and Bureau of Reclamation sites for one year from date of purchase, cost is $80
Access Pass: good for entrance to all National Parks, National Forests, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife, and Bureau of Reclamation sites for a lifetime, must be a US citizen and have a permanent disability or blindness, cost is free
Senior Pass: good for entrance to all National Parks, National Forests, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife, and Bureau of Reclamation sites for a lifetime, must be a US citizen and be 62 years of age or older, cost is $10
Click here for more info on fees and passes.
Please do not feed or approach any wild animals in the park. Their natural diet ensures their health and survival. Feeding them alters their behavior and may lead to their demise. Also, ground squirrels and other rodents may carry disease. All animals are wild and potentially dangerous. Keep a respectful distance, especially when taking pictures. Please see the section on bears for a complete write up on these charasmatic mega-fauna.
Campfires and Firewood
Campfires are permitted in Yosemite Valley from May 1 to October 15 from 5 to 10 p.m. only. The National Park Service prohibits morning and afternoon campfires and all wood gathering in Yosemite Valley. This is in an effort to reduce both the amount of smoke in the Valley and the impact on natural resources.
Only dry wood collected outside Yosemite Valley, charcoal briquettes or firewood purchased from a store may be burned in campfires in Yosemite Valley. Dead and downed wood may still be collected in other areas of the park below 9,600 feet in elevation (except in the giant sequoia groves).
Gathering wood reduces Yosemite's environmental quality and much of what visitors collect is green. When this is burned, (for instance, pine needles and cones) it generates more smoke than does dry wood.
Decaying wood, pine needles and pine cones return nutrients to the soil, thereby nourishing plants. They also furnish food and habitat for many insects that are consumed by birds, bears and other animals.
Traveling with pets in the national parks can be inconvenient due to the many necessary restrictions that exist to protect park resources. Please note the following:
• Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle. Also, never leave a pet unnatended outside because it may be attacked by wild animals.
• Always keep your pet on a leash.
• Walk your pet on paved paths only. Pets are not permitted on hiking trails or in meadows.
• Pets are not permitted in any lodging or dining facility, store or public building (except guide dogs and other service animals).
California fishing licenses
To fish in Yosemite, anglers age 16 and older are required to purchase licenses which are available at the Sport Shop in Yosemite Valley, the Wawona Store and the Tuolumne Meadows Store. You should also inquire about current state fishing regulations, including special regulations now in effect for Yosemite Valley.
Free wilderness permits are required year-round for all overnight trips into Yosemite's wilderness. They are not required for day hikes (except if hiking to Half Dome). Yosemite uses a trailhead quota system which limits the number of people who may begin overnight hikes from each trailhead, each day.
This system is designed to avoid overcrowding and to reduce impacts to wilderness areas. At least 40% of each trailhead quota is available on a first-come first-served basis the day of, or one day prior to, the beginning of your trip.
If you are starting a trip outside the park, obtain a permit from the land agency who manages your entry trailhead. Please plan your trip before you apply for a wilderness permit or write for a reservation.
Leave an accurate itinerary with family or friends, as it will be their responsibility to initiate a search if you do not return as scheduled.
Wilderness Permit Station Locations
Please obtain your free permit from the Wilderness Permit Station nearest your departure trailhead.
Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center (Open summer only; visitor center in winter): in Yosemite Village next to the post office.
Big Oak Flat (Open summer only; self-registration during winter): on the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120) at the park entrance.
Tuolumne Meadows (Open summer only; self-registration at ski hut): Located in parking lot 1/4 mile from the Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station.
Badger Pass (Open winter only): Ranger Station A-Frame at Badger Pass on Glacier Point Road.
Hetch Hetchy: Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station. The Hetch Hetchy Road is open limited hours. There is no access to Hetch Hetchy trailheads while the road is closed. Visit the conditions update page for more information.
Wawona (Open summer only; self-registration during winter): Information Station in the Hill's Studio adjacent to the Wawona Hotel, just off the Wawona Road (Highway 41).
Call (209) 372-0200 for open permit station locations and hours.
For those making trips from Cherry Lake in the Stanislaus National Forest to Kibbie Lake and Lake Eleanor in Yosemite, you must get your permit from the Stanislaus National Forest Ranger Station on Highway 120 in Groveland. For more information call (209) 962-7825.
For visitors entering the park from Chiquito Pass in Sierra National Forest, permits for the whole trip must be obtained from the Forest Service in North Fork. Call (559) 877-2218 for more information.
Wilderness Permit Reservations
Research and plan your trip before submitting a reservation request. Visit the Yosemite online store for a selection of maps and books to help you plan your trip.
Wilderness users who plan to enjoy Yosemite's beautiful high country during our peak season (May through September) are encouraged to make permit reservations. A $5 per person non-refundable processing fee is charged for all confirmed reservations.
By phone: reservations for summer trips are accepted from 2 days to up to 24 weeks in advance by calling (209) 372-0740 (8:30 am to 4:30 am, Monday-Friday).
By mail and web: reservation requests for summer trips (mid-May through September) are accepted from 2 weeks to 24 weeks in advance.
Have the following information ready at the time of your request:
• Daytime phone
• Number of people in the party
• Method of travel (i.e. ski, snowshoe, foot, horse)
• Number of stock (if applicable)
• Start and end dates
• Entry and exit trailheads
• Principal destination
Include alternate dates and/or trailheads. A $5 per person non-refundable processing fee is charged for all confirmed reservations. Payment by check or money order should be made to the Yosemite Conservancy. Credit card payments are accepted with valid card number and expiration date. Reservation phone lines are often busy. We encourage you to make your request in writing. Mailed requests are processed simultaneously with phone requests.
For more information, visit the Yosemite Wilderness Permits Website.
According to the Miwok people, bears have been in Yosemite since creation. The native people believed that the grizzly bear taught them that acorns were a source of food and that El Capitan grew into a great rock wall when a grizzly and her two cubs fell asleep upon a large, flat rock. The average person’s conception of bears has come from years of television’s version of the animals. Smokey, Gentle Ben, Winnie the Pooh and probably most of all, Yogi, come to mind when one envisions a bear. But these images are fantasy. The fact is that bears are wild animals that have become increasingly more common in the Sierra Nevada and can cause extensive property damage when trying to get people's food.
The bears we are talking about are the American Black Bear (Ursus americanus). Don’t let the name fool you; these bears can be brown, blonde, or black. There are no grizzly bears left in California; the last one was shot in Sequoia National Forest in 1922. The only grizzly bear you'll see in the park, today, is on the California state flag.
An estimated 300 to 500 bears live in Yosemite. The typical male black bear weighs 300 to 350 pounds and the female about 200 to 250 pounds. The largest black bear measured in Yosemite was nearly 700 pounds! Mild Sierra Nevada winters allow bears to den for a shorter period of time than in colder climates and some bears don’t hibernate at all and are active all winter. Berries, acorns, nuts, seeds and insects are the black bear's natural diet.
Black bears are normally shy and reclusive animals but they often approach people in picnic and camping areas. Why, what are they after? This question can be answered with one word - food. Foraging for berries and grasses and roots - bear food - is harder than grabbing a carelessly hung stuff sack or abandoned ice chest filled with all manner of goodies - people food.
There is only one effective way to avoid a bear ruining a backpacking or camping trip and that is proper food storage. Taking the time to store your food correctly can make the difference between a quiet relaxing summer vacation or having to end it early because your food is gone.
Plus, when bears repeatedly obtain human food and garbage, they often become destructive and dangerous and must be killed. To prevent this, store your food and other scented items properly at all times.
Food must be stored properly any time you are not preparing and eating it. Store anything with an odor (soap, sunscreen, garbage) the same as food. Always remember that food can take many shapes for bears. Their sense of smell is tremendous and they can perceive all sorts of things as food. Toothpaste becomes peppermint candy; soap may smell like fruit, a water bottle with Kool-Aide residue could represent a bowl of cherries. Have anything that smells? Store it properly with the rest of your food.
When you are eating food or using scented items keep them within arm’s reach. When you are done with them, immediately store them properly. Plan to set up camp, eat dinner, and store food before dark.
Portable bear canisters are an easy way for backpackers to store their food and they are required in most backcountry areas in the park (view a map where canisters are required). Canisters usually weigh 2-3 pounds and hold about a week’s worth of food. Place all food, trash, and scented items in the canister, make sure the lid is on tight, and place canister on the ground at least 50 feet away from your campsite. Avoid putting it near rivers, cliffs, or other areas where the canister may get lost if a bear does decide to roll it around to try to get inside it. For a list of approved canisters and other tips, please visit www.sierrawildbear.gov
If you are camping in one of the park campgrounds, parking at a trailhead, or parking at a lodge overnight, food storage is also mandatory. Just because there are more people around and vehicles doesn’t mean there is less danger of losing your food. After all, more people means more food. And Yosemite black bears can easily break into vehicles. Store all food and related supplies, including any item with a scent, regardless of packaging, in a food storage locker. This includes items that are not food, such as drinks, soaps, cosmetics, toiletries, perfumes, trash, ice chests (even when empty) and unwashed food items and utensils.
There are bear lockers at all Yosemite Campsites, at trailheads, and in some backcountry locations. Food storage boxes measure 35''x 45''x 18'', so be conservative in the amount of food or size of the ice chest you bring. Additional food and supplies can be purchased in the park, if necessary. Keep a clean camp. Put trash in bear-proof cans and dumpsters regularly. Be sure to properly close trash cans, dumpsters, and bear lockers.
Before setting out on a backpacking trip, remove all food and related supplies from your vehicle and store them in bear-proof food lockers at trailheads. Don't walk off and leave your backpack. Bears recognize packs as sources of food.
What if your food is stored properly and a bear wanders into your camp? Make sure your food and other scented items are in the bear locker and keep a safe distance, gather your family around you, and keep watch. Remember, the bear is looking for food and if there is none around it will probably move on. If it does approach you, make yourself look big, make noise, and try to scare it away. Yell, clap your hands and bang pots and pans together, throw small stones or sticks toward the bear from a safe distance (the intent is to scare the bear, not to injure it).
Sometimes, even with precautions, a bear will successfully obtain some food from your camp. While you should do everything under your power to prevent the bear from getting your food, it is recommended that you not try to retrieve your food from a bear once he/she has it. While not normally aggressive toward humans, bears, like most animals are possessive of their food and will defend it. But please pick up and pack out all debris after it has left. Also, never approach a mother with cubs. She may attack in defense of her young. Report any injuries or damage to a ranger.
Never underestimate a Yosemite bear's ingenuity, strength, or reach. When Yosemite's bears become accustomed to eating human food and garbage, their role in the park's natural environment is altered. Each year some bears must be killed by park rangers because they have become too bold and aggressive in the search for human food, causing damage to property as well as occasionally injuring visitors. With a little thought and preparation, you can have a great stay in Yosemite National Park and at the same time help preserve these beautiful wild creatures in their natural state.
Note: These regulations and precautions help decrease the chance of personal injury or property damage. However, bear damage and confrontations are still possible so stay alert. To report trash problems, improper food storage, bear sightings and other bear-related problems, please stop at one of the park visitor centers or leave a message for the Bear Management Team or the Save-a-Bear hotline at (209) 372-0473.
Another place to find out information is the California Department of Fish & Game's Website Keep Me Wild.
There are 13 campgrounds in Yosemite. A seven-day camping limit is in effect in Yosemite Valley and Wawona from May 1 to September 15, and a 14-day limit applies for all other locations. For the remaining months and for rest of the calendar year, the limit is 30 days. A maximum of six people and two automobiles may stay in a campsite. Yosemite Valley Campground checkout is 10 a.m. Checkout at other campgrounds is noon. Pets are allowed in some campgrounds. There are no electric or water hookups for RV's.
Campground reservation centers are managed by the National Park Reservation System (NPRS) and are located in the parking area at Curry Village (Shuttle Bus Stop #14), the Tuolumne Meadows Campground entrance in Wawona off Chilnualna Falls Road, and at the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station. For campground reservations, call (800) 436-7275; or outside the U.S. or Canada, call (301) 722-1257. Visit the Web site at www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/camping.htm
Reservations are required for campsites in Yosemite Valley's auto campgrounds year-round and for Hodgdon Meadow, Crane Flat, Wawona and half of the Tuolumne Meadows campground from the summer through the fall. All other campgrounds, except group and stock campgrounds, are open on a first-come, first-served basis. Wawona, Hodgdon Meadow and two Yosemite Valley campgrounds are open year-round; other Valley campgrounds are open from the spring to the fall. Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road campgrounds are open in the summer and the early fall. For RV information, visit www.GoRVing.com.
Camping reservations are available five months in advance, on the 15th of each month, and are accepted in blocks of a month at a time. Mail-in requests will not be accepted more than two weeks prior to on-sale dates (15th of each month). Check the Yosemite Guide for details. For more information, please call the National Park Service at (209) 372-0200 or visit online at .
While in Yosemite Valley, same-day reservations can be made at hotel front desks. For future reservations, use the free reservations telephone line in the hotel lobbies and visitor centers. Please call (559) 252-4848 or write to Yosemite Reservations, 5410 East Home Avenue, Fresno, CA 93727. For information and accommodations, please visit the Web site at http://www.yosemitepark.com.
Designated a National Historic Landmark, The Ahwahnee is a grand hotel nestled in Yosemite Valley. The hotel opened in 1927 and has hosted many famous people and celebrities. The hotel was named after the original native word for Yosemite Valley, which meant "Place of the Gaping Mouth." Designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, the hotel's facade of granite and concrete beams are stained to look like redwood and blend in with the surrounding forest and its backdrop, the Royal Arches. It is a design described by today's architects as "masterful." Priceless paintings, photographs, American Indian baskets and Oriental rugs are placed throughout its public rooms. Because it has only 123 guest rooms, visitors often make reservations up to a year in advance.
Even if you don't stay at the Ahwahnee it is worth a visit. It is open all year. Amenities include gift shops, a restaurant, a tour desk, a cocktail lounge, outdoor tennis courts and a swimming pool. It is located near the Merced River, Mirror Lake and the bicycle path.
Fort Yosemite, park headquarters of the U.S. Army Cavalry, once occupied the area where Yosemite Lodge now stands. The soldiers at Fort Yosemite were responsible for administering and protecting Yosemite National Park from 1906 to 1914. The National Park Service was established and assumed control of Yosemite in 1916.
In June 1915, future National Park Service director, Stephen T. Mather, selected Joe Desmond, an entrepreneur from San Francisco, to organize a new lodging facility on this site. Several army barracks remained until the early 1950s, when the hotel was modernized. The lodge offers 245 comfortable hotel rooms and is open all year. Amenities include bicycle rentals, gift shops, a restaurant, a food court a cocktail lounge, a tour desk, an outdoor amphitheater and a swimming pool. It is located near Yosemite Falls and the bicycle path.
Camp Curry celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1999 The largest lodging establishment in Yosemite Valley, it was originally created as an economical alternative to other, more expensive lodges. Nestled in the shadow of Glacier Point, Curry Village is the coolest Valley accommodation on hot summer days. There are 18 moderately priced motel rooms, 103 cabins with private baths, and 80 cabins and 427 canvas cabins (some heated) with central bathroom and shower house.
Camp Curry is open all year. Amenities include public showers, a general store and gift shop, the Mountain Shop, an outdoor amphitheater, a tour kiosk and an outdoor lounge (seasonal). Food service, climbing school (spring and fall), cross-country ski rentals an outdoor swimming pool, raft and bicycle rentals, and an ice rink (conditions permitting) are also available. The camp is near Mirror Lake, close to trailheads that lead to Vernal and Nevada falls, and the bicycle path.
This facility offers impressive views of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome, plus a wide, sandy beach. It is on the south bank of the Merced River along Southside Drive, opposite the LeConte Memorial Lodge at Shuttle Bus Stop #12. There are 266 developed rustic camping shelters; each has a double bed, two bunk beds and a table. Gas cooking stoves may be rented. Food storage must comply with National Park Service regulations (for more information, please see the Bears section). It is open from spring to fall. Amenities include rest rooms, public showers, a camp store and a laundromat.
A National Historic Landmark, the Wawona Hotel and a previous inn on this site have fed and accommodated wayfarers since the 1850s. The hotel is a lovely example of Victorian, 1870s, California architecture and is recognized by the California Trust for Historic Preservation. There are 104 rooms: 50 with baths, including claw-foot bathtubs and brass shower fixtures; 54 without baths, but featuring stuffed chairs, marble-top dressers and robes to wear to the European-style central bath. The Wawona Hotel is open seasonally. Amenities include a golf course, a swimming pool and a tennis court. It is located near the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Chilnualna Falls.
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge
Tuolumne Meadows, at an elevation of 8,575 feet, is the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada. This rustic lodge is a favorite base camp for day hikes in the area or for people heading to the High Sierra Camps. There are 69 tent cabins that are open all summer. Amenities include a dining room, small retail outlet and shower house. Nearby is a climbing school, a store, a stable and 24-hour fuel sales with debit or credit card.
White Wolf Lodge
White Wolf Lodge is a popular base for day hikes to Lukens and Harden lakes and is situated in the high country, just off Tioga Road. There are four cabins with baths and 24 canvas cabins that share a central bath. The lodge is open in summer and offers rustic dining and a camp store.
High Sierra Camps
Hearty meals and a comfortable bed await you at Yosemite's five High Sierra Camps. Guests arrive by foot or on horseback. Each camp is located in an area of outstanding beauty and interest. Guests bunk dormitory-style in two-, four- or six-person tent-cabins. Breakfast and dinner are included. Due to the high demand, reservations are booked by lottery. Applications are accepted from October 15 to November 30 only. The lottery is held in mid-December and applicants are notified at the end of March as to their standing. For more information, please contact High Sierra Desk, Yosemite Reservations, 5410 East Home Avenue, Fresno, CA 93727. The camps are open from late June to Labor Day, conditions permitting.
It would take a long, long time to hike all the trails in Yosemite. Here are just a sampling of some popular hiking trails. Please visit this webpage for more suggestions and information on hiking trails.
Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall and the Mist Trail
One of the most popular hikes in Yosemite Valley is the Mist Trail. This hike starts at Happy Isles (Shuttle Bus Stop #16) and climbs beside the scenic Merced River to Vernal Fall (a 317-foot drop) and Nevada Fall (a 594-foot drop). The first mile is moderately difficult. Beyond the Vernal Fall view footbridge, the Mist Trail becomes a strenuous climb. However, when the light is at the right angle, you are rewarded by seeing rainbows in the mist of the Falls. Carry a poncho or rain jacket in springtime. this is also the start of perhaps the most famous trail in Yosemite, the John Muir Trail. After it climbs pas the falls and goes through Little Yosemite Valley it heads north towards Tuolumne Meadows where it joins the Pacific Crest Trail.
Four Mile and Panorama Trails
These trails travel along spectacular routes from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point. The Four Mile Trail (closed in winter) is a strenuous four- to five -hour climb up to Glacier Point, beginning on Southside Drive at road marker V 18. The more moderate route is the 8.5-mile Panorama Trail, which begins at Happy Isles. It is a four- to five-hour hike one way. Or start at Glacier Point and hike down to the Valley on either of these trails. A hikers' bus (please see getting there for information) can be taken from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point.
In summer, you can hike to the top of Half Dome by taking the John Muir Trail or Mist Trail to Little Yosemite Valley where you may camp if you have a wilderness permit. Continuing the next day, you can use cables that are strung along the dome's shoulder to climb to the summit. This is a strenuous walk and an intimidating climb, but the view is worth it. The 17-mile-round-trip hike may be done in one day, but is recommended only for the physically fit. Note: Trail to Half Dome may experience intermittant closures this summer due to trail construction. Please check at a visitor center for information.
Starting near the Tuolumne Meadows campground and store, this trail is approximately 4 miles round trip and leads to the top of a well-defined granite dome. This is a fun hike to do at sunset and it provides a great view of Tuolumne Meadows, Cathedral Peak, and other surrounding mountains.
John Muir Trail through Lyell Canyon
This trail is rated as easy to moderate and it follows the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River much of the way. It starts near the Tuolumne Lodge and heads north. It is 8 miles to the head of the canyon near Donahue Pass with little elevation gain until you near the pass.
This is a short but rewarding trail that starts off of the Glacier Point Road at the Sentinel Dome parking area. It is 2.2 miles round-trip. It leads to outstanding an outstanding viewpoint high above Yosemite Valley and you can see a bird's eye view of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, etc.
For more informationYosemite National Park
Public Information Office
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389
Online book and map store
Yosemite Nature Notes Videos
John Muir Exhibit
Ansel Adams Gallery