Yosemite Pictures Guide, USA

Yosemite Valley seen from Glacier Point, California, USA

Yosemite valley (and parking area) seen from Glacier Point. Photo by Tuxyso.

Visiting Yosemite

Yosemite National Park is one of the best known wilderness areas in the world, a huge mass of rock and wood in the Sierra Nevada Mountains visited by over 3 million tourists a year.
Yosemite has been a hiking destination since the 1, 200 sq mile park was created in 1864, with 800 miles of trails going up to 13, 000 ft altitude. Mountain biking is easy in the seven mile long, one mile wide valley, but hard work elsewhere.
The Valley offers a free shuttle bus service, various shops, art centres, galleries, bike and raft rentals and ice rink in winter.

girl sitting on Glacier Point with Half Dome in the background, Yosemite NP, California, USA

The girl is sitting on Glacier Point with Half Dome in the background. Photo by Tuxyso.

Climbing is popular in Yosemite and El Capitan is the #1 target for those who love high times, though Tuolumne Meadows also has a good selection of mad rocks.

Downhill and cross-country skiing can be found at Badger Pass during winter.

Yosemite's El Capitan rock, California, USA

The most famous rock in Yosemite National Park’s Valley, El Capitan, a granite monolith 3, 593 feet high that makes one of the world’s most intimidating climbs.

Yosemite's el Capitan rock, Yosemite NP, USA

The road entering/leaving the park.

A marmot on Mount Dana, Yosemite NP, California, USA

A marmot on Mount Dana. After deer these critters are one of the most seen animals in Yosemite. Photo by Inklein.

Vernal Falls coming off the Merced River, Yosemite NP, California, USA

Vernal Falls coming off the Merced River. Photo by God of War. Waterfalls are common in Yosemite and one of its best features.

Tenaya Lake, Yosemite, California, USA

Tenaya Lake.

Accommodation

Reservations are not required to enter Yosemite, but it is recommended that you make reservations for camping or lodging if you plan to spend the night.

Yosemite Valley is the easiest, most impressive and warmest place to stay in the park, but lodging and the three camp sites are limited and in much demand, so book ahead. Using Yosemite’s other camp sites will involve long and winding uphill/downhill roads to reach the valley and much colder nights at much higher altitude.

However! The Valley is also – much of the time – a mass of vehicles, no entry signs, one-way streets and roadworks, so if you don’t mind chilly nights and prefer solitude you might choose to camp in Yosemite’s higher, more isolated places such as Tuolumne Meadows.

Tuolumne River, Yosemite, California, USA

Tuolumne River.

Yosemite Weather

There are seasons to suit all comers but if you are looking for warm, dry weather then May-September would be best, with very low rainfall, low temperatures in the 50Fs (10C) and highs ranging from 72F-90F (22C-32C) in the valley. Temperatures drop dramatically as you ascend, of course, losing 10F-20F (6C-11C) depending on altitude. The peak months July-August and weekends generally should be avoided if possible as they get very busy/congested in the valley and places to stay will be very hard to find.

In winter there are downhill ski runs at Badger Pass, as well as cross-country skiing in many places.

Landscape seen from the long but popular John Muir Trail. Photo by Peretz Partensky. The JMT is 221 miles (356 kms) long, passing through Yosemite as well as Kings Canyon, Sequoia National Parks and half a dozen other wilderness areas.

Getting to Yosemite

Yosemite is open all year, though some areas are inaccessible by car from about November to May due to snow. You can drive your car into and around Yosemite, though we encourage you to use shuttles in some areas.

San Francisco/Bay area, distance: 195 mi (314 km). Time: 4-5 hours

Sacramento, distance: 176 mi (283 km). Time: 4 hours

Reno & Lake Tahoe, June – October conditions permitting, distance: 218 mi (351 km) (Reno). Time: 5 hours

Los Angeles area, distance: 313 mi (504 km). Time: 6 hours

San Diego area, distance: 441 mi (710 km). Time: 8 hours

Las Vegas, June – October conditions permitting, distance: 400 mi (642 km). Time: 8 hours

Death Valley National Park, June – October, distance: 270 mi (435 km). Time: 5 hours

Yosemite Valley, California, USA

Yosemite Valley meadow with pleasant short walks (and our campervan in the photo), the start of a bike track and a good early place to stop and unload bikes or walking shoes before the central traffic chaos begins. We camped in the woods high above the valley.

Some disaffected comments from American visitors to Yosemite

“Mother Nature has nothing to do with this place any more. Kids running amok, garbage, drunks. You might as well be in downtown San Francisco for all the wilderness you’ll find here. ”

“This national park only looks good in pictures – not in real life. ”

“The rows of tents made it look like a shanty town! “