The Ultimate Guide To Yosemite National Park
Majestic Mountain Cliffs, Deep Valleys, Glaciers, Giant Sequoias and More.
Yosemite National Park preserves approximately 1,200 square miles of rugged terrain in the Sierra Nevada of California. Yosemite National Park is mostly known for its gorgeous waterfalls, but there is a lot more to see and explore in the park, deep valleys, aged sequoia trees, glacier-carved lands, grand mountains, wildlife and much more. Here is my ultimate guide to Yosemite National Park, featuring major attractions, an attractions map, and a suggested itinerary.
It all started in 1889, when John Muir, better known as “Father of the National Parks,” discovered that the grasslands surrounding Yosemite Valley lacked any protection and were being destroyed by domestic sheep grazing. So John Muir and his fellow environmentalist, Robert Underwood, lobbied for national park status and was finally approved by Congress in 1890, that is how Yosemite becomes US’s third national park.
Best Way To Explore Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is open all year, though some sections of the park are inaccessible by car from November through April due to snow. You can take your car and drive and explore by yourself, but I highly recommend using the shuttles, when available, to save time and the pain of finding parking for your vehicle.
There are free shuttles offered by the National Park Services, stopping at major vista points, campgrounds, and lodges. There are also some paid tours available in Yosemite; find more details on the NPS Website.
You don’t need any reservations for entering the park, but if you plan to camp or stay there overnight, please make your reservations in advance.
Yosemite Attractions Map
While there is a lot to see and explore in Yosemite National Park, but considering that a lot of people go there for a day or two, I have compiled a list of must-see places for my guide to Yosemite.
There are five entrances into Yosemite National Park, (1) North Entrance, The Hetch Hetchy Entrance. Two Southwest entrances (2) Big Oak Flat Entrance and (3) Arch Rock Entrance, if you’re coming from the Bay area, then Southwest entrances are best for you. (4) South Entrance, via Fish Camp town, if you’re coming from Los Angeles or San Diego and (5) Northeast / Tioga Pass Entrance, if you’re coming from Lake Tahoe or Las Vegas area.
In my travel guide to Yosemite, and during my visit, I used the Arch Rock Entrance. Depending on which entrance you’re using, the order you will visit these viewpoints might be different, but I highly recommend seeing all of them.
If you’re using the Arch Rock Entrance, on your way into the park, you will see the Viewpoint 1, The Tunnel View. Tunnel View is one of the most famous viewing areas in the whole Yosemite Valley! It offers some sweeping and breathtaking views of the El Capitan, the Bridalveil Fall, and the Half Dome, all three from the same place.
Viewpoint 2: Valley View, next on the way, you would see the beautiful Valley View, even though located along one-way Northside Drive, and a lot of people stop here on their way out; I recommend visiting this while you’re entering as it gets jam-packed later in the day.
El Capitan Meadow
Viewpoint 3: El Capitan Meadow provides a straight-up view of El Capitan and the Cathedral Rocks. The view of the majestic El Capitan is really breathtaking!
Viewpoint 4: Visitor Center/Parking while this is not mandatory, but I recommend that you stop here, park your car, and then take the shuttle to the rest of the viewpoints.
Viewpoint 5: Glacier Point is the most spectacular and breathtaking viewpoint in Yosemite National Park. While we loved every vista point in Yosemite, our favorite was Glacier Point. The view of the vast, lush green valley and the distant waterfalls is mesmerizing. The road to Glacier Point is usually open late May through early November.
Viewpoint 6: Sentinel Bridge is famous for its views of both Half Dome reflected in the Merced River and the magnificent views of the Yosemite Falls. It isn’t easy to find parking close to the Sentinel Bridge, and I recommend using the park shuttle.
Lower Yosemite Fall
Viewpoint 7: Lower Yosemite Fall provides a closer view of Yosemite Falls, so close that you will feel the mist all over you. Here at the lower fall, there’s a small parking lot, even if you find it full, wait for some time, and you will find someone leaving. Just a short walk from the parking lot will take you right to the bottom of the fall.
This brings you to the end of my travel guide to Yosemite National Park, I have mentioned all the major attractions. If you are planning to spend more time in the park, there are several other hiking trails and activities. Please visit one of the visitor centers and check with a park ranger for more details.
Other California Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Yosemite National Park, and I expect this will help you plan your trip to the Yosemite National Park. If you enjoy nature, I am sure you will love Yosemite!
Happy feeding your soul!
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