Destination Guide

The Travel Well Guide

Yosemite National Park

City: Mariposa       State: California       Country: USA
Yosemite National Park is a national park located in the eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in east central California, United States. The park covers an area of 761,266 acres or 1,189 square miles (3,081 km²) and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness. Features such as Half Dome and El Capitan are hauntingly familiar even to those who have never been here, because of the photographer Ansel Adams, who made documenting this valley his life's work. Yosemite is one of the oldest national parks in the US, having been designated in 1890. This is a rock climber's paradise: the smooth face of Half Dome and the jagged granite of El Capitan provide even the most experienced with a challenge. But Yosemite is not just for the active, the views from along, and across, the valley floor are amazing. The three cascades of Yosemite Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the world, drop a total of 740 m (2,425 ft) and in May, when the runoff is at its peak, the noise is overwhelming. One of the most popular areas of the valley for walkers is Mariposa Grove, where hundreds of giant sequoias reach high into the sky, making visitors feel very small indeed. The Tuolumne Meadows are worth a hike, especially in late spring and early summer when they are filled with typical alpine plants. The surrounding scenery, however, is stunning at any time of the year. Perhaps the best overview of the area can be obtained in summer from Glacier Point, about an hour's drive away from the main valley. As well as rock-climbing, there is something to do all year, from skiing and snowboarding to fishing, hiking, railing, horse-riding, birdwatching, stargazing at overnight camps and cycling. There is also an abundance of wildlife, including black bears and deer, bobcats, yellow-bellied marmots, Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, coyotes, white-tailed hare, mountain beavers, grey foxes, martens and golden-mantled ground squirrels. Birds include spotted owls, Steller's jays, rosy finches, great grey owls, white-headed woodpeckers and northern goshawks.Whether you go to Yosemite for adventure or to simply gaze in awe at the magnificent landscape, Yosemite is a true must-see.

Climate | When to Visit

The park is open all year, although some approaches are shut during winter. The waterfalls are at their best in May.
Visit during: January to December

Directions | How to Reach

By road from San Francisco or Fresno.

miscellaneous | Important Information

The black bears are effective scavengers, all food must be kept secure and covered so they cannot smell it.

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