When is the Best Time to Visit Yosemite?
There is no bad time to visit Yosemite National Park, only the right time for your trip’s needs. Are you visiting for camping and backpacking? Is your goal to see animals and plants, especially wildflowers? Perhaps you want to drive along the famous Tioga road, or stay at a lodge inside the park where you can spend the day exploring the park and then lounge by the pool with a cold drink afterwards. No matter what your primary aim in coming to Yosemite is, there’s a time of year for you.
The park is open year round, but different seasons offer different opportunities. Here are the best times to visit Yosemite, broken down by attractions.
The Best Time to Visit Yosemite for Camping
Yosemite National Park is famous for its biodiversity, crystal clear streams, majestic and ancient trees, and wildlife. It’s no wonder that Yosemite is such a desirable camping destination. The park has many campgrounds spread throughout the park, some of which are open year round for those park-goers who prefer less crowded, but colder, camping conditions. If you don’t want to deal with winter conditions, however, the best time to camp is generally during the summer season–roughly May to November.
Campground opening and closing dates are approximated each year based on the weather and when it is possible to start plowing the main roads into the park. Reservations are required during the peak season and fill up quickly, so make sure to plan ahead!
Please note that Yosemite National Park is undergoing some key renovation projects and that some campgrounds and areas of the park are closed for the entirety of 2022 and in some cases, extending into 2023. The National Park Service website details those projects and their respective impacts here.
The Best Time to Visit the Park for Hiking
Yosemite National Park has 1,169 square miles of almost totally untouched wilderness, offering prime hiking opportunities and chance of glimpsing black bears, waterfalls, hundreds of bird varieties, and fields of wildflowers. As the park is open year round, your hiking opportunities are unlimited.
However, if you prefer a dryer, warmer hiking climate, you’ll want to aim for the summer months once the snow has cleared and the roads are fully plowed. The park has elevation ranging from 2,000 to 13,000 feet, so the weather and temperatures will vary greatly depending on where you are hiking. The park generally gets the most precipitation from October to May, so if you want to avoid rain and snow, plan to come between June and September (typically the busiest months).
The Best Time to Visit Yosemite for Summer Activities
Yosemite is a prime summer vacation spot, offering chances for hiking, swimming, fishing, rafting, stargazing, and picnicking. The weather starts warming up closer to May (though it is advisable to research current weather trends when planning your trip) and doesn’t start getting too rainy and snowy until closer to November. That said, if you don’t want to worry about being cold, plan to visit between June and September.
The Best Time to Visit the Park for Winter Activities
Many people prefer to vacation in Yosemite during the less crowded winter months. Not only are there fewer people in the park from September to April, but the cold and snow create excellent chances for skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating, as well as hiking along quiet, crisp trails and camping in almost total solitude.
The Best Time to Visit Yosemite for Birdwatching
Birdwatchers, no matter how serious or casual, get great enjoyment from the birdwatching opportunities in Yosemite. The biodiversity of the park attracts over 200 species of birds year round, such as mountain chickadees, common ravens, Steller's jays, warblers, and tanagers. There are birding tours organized by the Yosemite Conservancy and led by expert birders, as well as free birdwatching walks led by park rangers. Of course, you can simply wander the woods taking in the sights and birdsongs without a tour, too!
The Best Time to Visit for Avoiding Crowds
The busiest months in Yosemite National Park are usually June-September, with July having the highest numbers. That said, the park is huge, so even if you come in peak months, as long as you plan ahead it is absolutely possible to find less popular areas to hike, camp, and spend time with friends and family.
Your Yosemite Stay Taken Care Of
If you’re looking for Yosemite National Park lodging, call Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders at 1-888-YOSEMITE (1-888-967-3648) or browse our rental options here to begin planning your dream getaway. Scenic Wonders offers quality home, condo, and cabin rentals inside of Yosemite National Park at competitive prices.