Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Plan Your Visit

Near the eastern border of central California is a park about the size of Rhode Island. Situated in Sierra Nevada splendor, Yosemite National Park was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890, and has since become one of the best-known parks in the world.

Open year-round, the park includes 263 miles of roads, 800 miles of hiking trails, over 150 species of birds, 85 species of mammals, over 1,000 species of flowering plants and 37 types of trees. Elevations inside the park range from 2,000 feet above sea level to more than 13,000 feet. Although famous for its incredible Valley, Yosemite National Park is composed of 1,169 square miles, 95 percent of which is officially designated as the Yosemite Wilderness.

Five distinct areas attract nearly 3.5 million visitors each year to the park: Yosemite Valley, Wawona and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Glacier Point, the Tioga Road and Tuolumne Meadows, and Hetch Hetchy.

To plan your visit, use this guide in conjunction with the park newspaper, Yosemite Today.

Entrance Fees: The park and its entrances are open year-round, 24 hours a day. The following entrance fees may be paid by cash or major credit card and are subject to change. All park passes available for purchase can only be acquired at park entrance stations:

Seven-day pass if entering via...

  • Non-commercial car, pickup truck, RV, or van with 15 or fewer passenger seats
    $30 per vehicle (no per-person fee)
    (the fee is only $25 from November through March)
     
  • Motorcycle
    $15 per motorcycle (no per-person fee; beginning January 2016, the fee will be $20 per motorcycle)
     
  • Foot, bicycle, horse, or non-commercial bus or van with more than 15 passenger seats:
    $15 per person aged 16 and older
    (fee waivers may be available for curriculum-based educational trips)

The America the Beautiful— National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is available to the general public for $80 and provides access to Federal recreation sites that charge entrance fees for one year, beginning from the date of sale. The pass admits the pass holder and up to three additional adult passengers in a non-commercial vehicle (children under 16 are admitted free). The pass can be obtained in person at the park, by calling (888) ASK USGS or via the Internet at www.parkpass.net. Lifetime passes are available for U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are age 62 or over ($10 Senior Pass) or those with permanent disabilities (free with the required documentation). Visit www.parkpass.net for more detailed information.

Although you can drive your car to Yosemite National Park year-round, no gasoline is sold in Yosemite Valley. Gas is available in Wawona, at Crane Flat and in neighboring El Portal; the Tuolumne Meadows service station is open in summer only.

GETTING TO YOSEMITE

Despite the sense of remoteness, Yosemite is relatively easy to reach from anywhere in the world. It is a four-hour drive from San Francisco and a six-hour drive from Los Angeles. All public roadways into the park are well-maintained and most are open year-round. Roads leading to and within the park are two-lane, narrow, and winding. Note: When traveling through the Sierra Nevada from November to April, you should always carry tire chains in your vehicle. Weather conditions can change unexpectedly, and chains may become mandatory on any park road at any time. For road conditions please call (209) 372-0200.

You can access the park via four main entrances as noted below. Please refer to the map above for specific details.

Northwest: Big Oak Flat Entrance via Hwy 120.

East (summer to late fall): Tioga Pass Entrance via Hwy 120.

West: Arch Rock entrance via Hwy 140.

South: South entrance via Hwy 41.

Travel by Air

Fresno/Yosemite International Airport (FAT): 2.5 hours to Yosemite via South Entrance from Highway 41.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO): Three hours to Big Oak Flat Entrance via Highway 120, four hours to Yosemite Valley.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX): Six hours to Yosemite Valley via I-5 to Highway 99 to Highway 41.

Oakland (OAK): Three hours to Big Oak Flat Entrance via Highway 120, four hours to Yosemite Valley.

Sacramento (SMF): Two hours to Big Oak Flat Entrance via Highway 120, and three hours to Yosemite Valley.

Reno International Airport (RNO): Five hours to Yosemite Valley via the Tioga Pass Entrance (June to October). Call ahead for road opening.

Las Vegas Airport (LAS): Eight to nine hours to Yosemite Valley via the Tioga Pass Entrance (June to October). Call ahead for road opening.

Travel by Train or Bus

Amtrak serves San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Jose, San Francisco and Sacramento to and from Merced and connects with motorcoaches to Yosemite Valley. Each afternoon, buses depart Yosemite Lodge to connect with Amtrak trains in Merced. For fares, schedules and information, please call toll-free at (800) 872-7245 or visit online at www.amtrak.com.

Regional Transit: Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) offers individual and group fares for motorcoach service into Yosemite from numerous gateway communities. Round-trip and one-way fares range from $7 to $25 (discounts for children and seniors) and include park entrance fees. Please call toll-free (877) 98-YARTS (989-2787) for schedules and information or visit YARTS online at www.yarts.com.

Car Rental: Rental cars or taxi service are not available in Yosemite. For rental car assistance, inquire at nearby airports.

GETTING AROUND YOSEMITE

Accessibility Information -

The Yosemite Accessibility Guide is available at entrance stations, visitor centers and lodging facilities parkwide, or online at www.nps.gov/yose/access. Alternative formats may be available upon request. Call (209) 372-0356 for more information.

Free Shuttle

In Yosemite Valley, visitors are encouraged to park their vehicles at the day-visitor parking area and ride the free shuttle to 21 stops throughout the Valley (all vehicles are wheelchair-lift equipped). In summer, two additional free shuttles provide round-trip access from Wawona to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias; and in the Tuolumne Meadows area, from the Tioga Pass Entrance Station to Olmsted Point. In winter, free shuttle transportation is available between Yosemite Valley and the Badger Pass Ski Area.

The Yosemite Valley hybrid shuttles improve fuel economy while reducing engine emissions and noise levels. Yosemite's fleet of hybrid buses is capable of transporting over 1,000 passsengers per hour and is a valuable tool to reduce congestion in the park.

Park Newspaper

Yosemite Today contains a complete schedule of facilities' hours and park programs including guided hikes, ranger talks, kids' programs and special events. Look for it in your packet of materials when you enter the park, or get one from any visitor center.

Weather

Yosemite typically enjoys a warm, dry summer; a mild, pleasant spring and fall; and a cool winter. Higher elevations receive a great deal of snow, but the Valley (at 4,000 feet in elevation) tends to get far less. Whatever the season, be prepared for any type of weather by dressing in layers. Areas at higher elevations, such as Tuolumne Meadows, can be dramatically cooler than Yosemite Valley and other lower-elevation areas. Carry a jacket or sweater and be prepared for weather changes.

LODGING

A variety of lodging facilities are found throughout Yosemite National Park.

Reservations for lodging in Yosemite National Park can be made up to one year and one day in advance by calling Delaware North Companies (DNC) Parks & Resorts at Yosemite (559) 252-4848 or book online at www.YosemitePark.com. Reservations may also be made by writing to: Yosemite Reservations, 6771 N. Palm Avenue, Fresno, CA 93704. Same-day reservations may be made at hotel front desks based on availability.

Most of the accommodations have a few accessible rooms for visitors with disabilities, so be sure to specifically request accessible lodging, if needed. For more information, visit www.YosemitePark.com.

The Ahwahnee

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, The Ahwahnee is a grand hotel nestled among the pines and sheltered by the Royal Arches. Designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood, The Ahwahnee opened July 14, 1927. It is lauded even by today's architects as "masterful." Inside, antique paintings and photographs, American Indian baskets, and kilim rugs harmonize to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for guest enjoyment. The Ahwahnee has counted presidents, celebrities, and royalty among its appreciative guests.

This AAA four-diamond property boasts gift shops, meeting rooms, conference and wedding facilities, a dining room, cocktail lounge, outdoor tennis courts, and a swimming pool. WiFi is available. It is located near the Merced River and within walking distance of Yosemite Village.

Yosemite Lodge at the Falls

Fort Yosemite, park headquarters of the U.S. Army Cavalry, once occupied the area where Yosemite Lodge at the Falls now stands. These soldiers were responsible for administering and protecting Yosemite between 1891 and 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 lodge was modernized. Yosemite Lodge at the Falls now offers 245 comfortable and centrally located hotel rooms, and is open year-round. Amenities include bicycle, wheelchair, and electric scooter rentals, gift shops, a restaurant, food court, cocktail lounge, tour & activity desk, an outdoor amphitheater, text telephone, a swimming pool, an ATM, a post office, fax services, wireless internet access, and conference and wedding facilities. The lodge is located near Yosemite Falls and is along the Merced River.

Curry Village

Curry Village, the largest lodging establishment in Yosemite Valley, was originally created by David and Jennie Curry as an economical alternative to camping. Nestled in the shadow of Glacier Point, Curry Village is the coolest Valley accommodation on hot summer days and a hub for many recreational activities. There are 18 moderately priced motel rooms, 103 cabins with private baths, 80 cabins without bath and 427 canvas tents (some heated in winter) with access to central bathrooms and shower houses.

Some services are seasonal. Amenities include public showers, a general store and gift shop, Yosemite Mountaineering School, the Mountain Shop, an outdoor amphitheater, text telephone, a tour and activity desk, food service and an outdoor swimming pool. Curry Village Recreation Center amenities include bike and raft rentals and an ice skating rink (open seasonally). Curry Village is near Happy Isles and is close to trailheads that lead to Mirror Lake, Vernal and Nevada Falls.

Housekeeping Camp

This facility offers impressive views of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome, plus a wide, sandy beach for lazy summer days. It is on the south bank of the Merced River, opposite the LeConte Memorial Lodge at shuttle stop #12. There are 266 rustic camping shelters, each with a double bed, two bunk beds, electricity and a table.

Housekeeping Camp is open from spring to fall. Amenities include central restrooms, public showers, a camp store and a laundromat.

Wawona Hotel

A National Historic Landmark, Wawona Hotel and a previous inn on this site have fed and accommodated wayfarers since the 1850s. In April 2004, the hotel celebrated its 125th anniversary. It 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 private baths, including claw-foot bathtubs and brass shower fixtures; and 54 without baths, but featuring robes to wear to the European-style central bathrooms.

Wawona Hotel is open mid-March through early January, and may be open select winter weekends. Call for details. Amenities include a dining room, golf course, swimming pool, tennis court and wedding facilities. It is located in southern Yosemite, near the Pioneer Yosemite History Center and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Tuolumne Meadows, at an elevation of 8,575 feet, is the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada. The Tuolumne Meadows Lodge is a favorite base camp for day hikes in the area or for people heading to the Yosemite High Sierra Camps. There are 69 rustic tent cabins that are open all summer. Amenities include a dining room, small retail outlets, shower houses, gas station, Yosemite Mountaineering School and Mountain Shop. The lodge is located just steps away from the Tuolumne River.

White Wolf Lodge

White Wolf Lodge is located in the high country off of Tioga Road and is a popular base for day hikes to Lukens and Harden Lakes. 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 small camp store.

The Redwoods In Yosemite

Nestled among towering trees, these vacation homes in Yosemite's unique community of Wawona have gone unnoticed by many park visitors. Originally established as The Moore's Cottages in 1949, The Redwoods in Yosemite offers delightful 1 to 6 bedroom, fully-equipped homes that are perfect for a relaxing stay. For more information call (209) 375-6666 or visit www.redwoodsinyosemite.com.

Yosemite High Sierra Camps

Hearty meals and a comfortable bed await hikers at Yosemite's five High Sierra Camps. Guests arrive by foot or saddle. 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.

Reservations are booked by lottery. The lottery is held in mid-December and applicants are notified at the end of February as to their standing. Once the lottery is complete, any openings are available first come, first serve. Last minute cancellations can also result in openings. There are often mid-week and non-holiday openings. For more information and to obtain an application, call (559) 253-5674, or contact the High Sierra Desk, Yosemite Reservations, 6771 N. Palm Avenue, Fresno, CA 93704. The camps are open from late June to early September, conditions permitting.