How many days in Yosemite? Deciding how long to stay in the park
One of our favorite things about Yosemite is the endless list of things to do, see, and experience inside the park. For first time visitors, though, it can be challenging to figure out how to accomplish everything you want to do within a limited time frame.
Keep reading for our best advice on how to plan the right number of days in Yosemite based on when you’re looking to go, whether or not you’re traveling with kids, the kinds of activities you want to do, and more!
How to decide on the type of Yosemite vacation you’re planning
When figuring out how many days in Yosemite you want to spend, you’ll want to first think through the logistics of your travel. From there, you can decide how many days to spend and create a more detailed itinerary.
Time of year
Spring and Summer (roughly May through September) draw the most visitors to Yosemite. This is mostly due to the timing of summer vacation and the hot weather providing for outdoor activities. Of course, this means more crowds and more car traffic, which can impact your ability to pack several activities in less time.
If you visit in Fall and Winter (roughly September through April) on the other hand, you can expect far less tourists. This means less traffic and a generally easier time getting from spot to spot.
If you’re visiting over a holiday weekend or free entrance day, you can count on the park getting packed by the early morning due to the increased volume of visitors. These crowds make it harder to get around to all the can’t-miss spots, so an extra day or two could help ensure you do everything you want to.
Other popular destinations near Yosemite
Yosemite is nearby several other national parks, including Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Visiting these other parks is definitely doable in the same trip, but be sure to give yourself plenty of time in Yosemite. Many visitors underestimate how many days in Yosemite they need to accomplish everything they want to do.
Once you’ve figured these important things out, you can dive deeper into what you want to do during your visit and get a sense of how many days you’ll need. Here we’ve outlined how many days you’ll need for three popular types of visits: a family getaway, a hiking-based trip, and a wintertime skiing trip.
The ideal trip length for a family getaway
If you’re planning a family-oriented trip with children, we suggest staying in Yosemite for three to four days. This time frame gives you some flexibility while ensuring you have enough time to do sightseeing and kid-friendly activities.
Here’s a suggested summertime itinerary for someone entering the park from the South Gate:
- Before entering Yosemite, visit Sequoia National Park and the Grove of the Giant Sequoias.
- Enter Yosemite and check into accommodations.
- Hike to the summit of Upper Yosemite Falls (7-8 hour round trip)
- Hike the Lower Falls portion only and spend the rest of the day exploring around the Valley. You could attend a ranger talk, ride bikes, or even drive to Wawona to ride horses.
- Hike to Mirror Lake from Curry Village
- Enjoy the water at Sentinel Beach
- Watch the sunset at Glacier Point
How long hiking enthusiasts should plan to stay
For folks looking to hike several different trails during one trip, we would suggest staying in Yosemite for a minimum of one week. This gives you time to accomplish three hikes (El Capitan, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls) with at least one rest day between.
This also gives you some flexibility in case weather conditions prevent you from hiking one day.
What about Skiing?
Skiers and snow sports enthusiasts can enjoy Badger Pass Ski Area from mid-December through March. Badger Pass is located just five miles from Yosemite Valley and is accessible by car or by a free shuttle. If you’d like to stay in accommodations even closer to Badger Pass, consider staying in Yosemite West which is only 3 miles from Badger Pass.
For folks looking to ski for one day, we would suggest staying for a minimum of two days. That way you could ski on Day 1, and spend the next day doing lighter sightseeing in Yosemite Valley.
If you’d like more than one ski day, or are interested in the challenging cross-country ski trail from Badger Pass to Glacier Point, plan on staying at least three days. Many folks who accomplish this 21-mile trail opt to stay overnight at Glacier Point in the Ski Huts before completing the round trip.
The average trip duration for Yosemite tourists
Most Yosemite visitors stay between three to four days. After all, there is so much to do and see! Even if you’re coming to Yosemite for a specific purpose like a wedding, it’s more than worth it to extend your trip.
No time ever feels like enough in Yosemite, but having enough days to accomplish everything you want to do during your visit is the next best thing.
If you're planning a visit to Yosemite National Park, be sure to reserve your Yosemite accommodations with Scenic Wonders. We offer cabin, home, and condominium rentals within the gates of Yosemite National Park that will put you just minutes from exploring Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Badger Pass, and more must-see areas.
Call 1-888-YOSEMITE (1-888-967-3648) to learn about our available rentals or to reserve your Yosemite accommodations today!