Pack your sunscreen and sunglasses, and don't forget the bug spray, poncho, and water bottle - you'll need all this and more when you visit glorious Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County
. Come for a visit and leave transformed by this diverse and stunning natural wonder comprised of glacier-carved valleys and granite mountains, spectacular waterfalls, and peaceful meadows.
Where is Yosemite National Park?
Yosemite National Park is located in Mariposa County, known as Gold Country, in the heart of California - 163 miles from San Francisco, 281 miles from Los Angeles, and 340 miles from Las Vegas. Covering nearly 1,200 miles of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and with four major entrances, Yosemite's geographic reach is as grand as its breathtaking, natural beauty. If you stay in one of our inviting vacation homes, you'll have that home-away-from-home feeling and all the privacy you need.
Main Attractions in Yosemite
While Yosemite is overflowing with endless possibilities to fill your days during your stay, there are certainly some must-sees. In the valley, be sure to catch Yosemite Falls and visit the museum to learn about the natural history and the iconic explorer, John Muir, who was responsible for Yosemite being established as a National Park.
From here, you can either hike or drive up to Glacier Point for an awe-inspiring view. Glimpse the unique formations of El Capitan, Half Dome, and Sentinel Dome, with daring climbers dotting the rock faces. A short drive from the valley will bring you to Tuolumne Grove, where you will feel dwarfed by the magnificent Giant Sequoias, some of which can live for over 3,000 years!
If you stay at a vacation home in beautiful Groveland
on the west side of Yosemite, you'll be close enough to come for a day and fit in a bunch of the main attractions, but we can't promise you won't want to stay for longer!
Summer/Fall Activities in Yosemite
Summer is one of the most remarkable times to experience much of what Yosemite has to offer. Stock a daypack with all the essentials, and begin to explore more than 800 miles of hiking trails on foot, horseback, or mule. Take a dip in the natural waters of Lake Don Pedro or Lake McClure. If you're looking for more boisterous water fun, go water skiing, jet skiing, windsurfing, or take a raft trip down the Merced River.
Soak up the sun as you climb your way up the rock walls of the Valley or Merced River Canyon, or try a climb at Tuolumne Meadows, where the temperatures are cooler and the crowds are fewer. You can also work on your golf game at Yosemite’s Wawona Golf Course.
Considering that summer in Yosemite is the most densely traveled season of the year, having your own vacation rental in Mammoth Lakes
to return to at the end of your action-packed days will be a welcome thing, indeed.
You might decide to visit in the fall and avoid the crowds completely, though. Fall is the least populated season at Yosemite, with most areas and activities still open and operating, so take your time exploring and enjoy a slower, more serene pace.
Take a hike amidst deciduous trees to see explosions of color - yellows, oranges, and reds - mixed with giant evergreen sequoias on the Valley floor. Or wander higher up for a bird's eye view and snap some photos to commemorate the time you spent in this beautiful natural wonder.
Winter/Spring Activities in Yosemite
Come and enjoy the muted sounds of winter activity at Yosemite created by the thick cover of snow that falls over the area. Head to Badger Pass Ski Area for some downhill skiing, snowboarding, or tubing, or wind your way through the majestic sequoia groves on cross-country skis or snowshoes. Work on your Axel and toe loop at Half Dome Lodge or at Tenaya Lodge's covered ice rink.
When the snow thaws, life returns to Yosemite with gushing waterfalls and a profuse show of wildflowers bedecked with a wide array of butterflies. During spring at Yosemite, you can still enjoy some winter activities at higher altitudes, then return to the Valley floor for warmth and sunshine. Take a hike or bike ride, or sit and reflect at the edge of one of Yosemite's beautiful bodies of water, like Tenaya Lake.
Find a quiet nook in the Valley, sit quietly among the magnificent rocks and trees, and wait for Yosemite's wildlife to show itself. Not only will you see a multitude of birds, you might also glimpse a bear, mountain lion, bighorn sheep, or a mule deer. Smaller critters, like marmots and squirrels, are common and visibly active throughout the park. Please remember that the animals are wild, so view them from a distance and with respect. Above all, be safe.
Programs, Tours, and Adventures at Yosemite
Take the pressure off yourself when planning how to spend your day, and leave it to the pros. Yosemite Conservancy, Yosemite's Interpretive and Ranger Programming, and Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts are all primed to take you on memorable programs and outdoor excursions, including, art workshops, naturalist hikes, twilight strolls, and stargazing tours. If you have children with you, Natural Bridge offers educational, hands-on programs just for kids, ages 10-17.
After a few days of exploring, you might pamper yourself with a massage at Ascent Spa, or one of their many spa treatments. Go within and take a yoga class at Yosemite Health Spa, or go on a yoga trek with Balanced Rock Foundation for some outdoor yoga in a stunning natural setting. While you're here, be sure to visit one of the many art galleries in and around Yosemite featuring the work of both famous and local artists.
Your packing list will vary depending on the season, so be sure to consult the park about what you'll need, as well as their rules about where pets are allowed if you bring your furry family members with you. Be prepared to have the time of your life and return home changed after you experience the grandeur of one of Nature's most spectacular works of art - Yosemite National Park.
Image credit: Tom Petrie via Flickr