Fun things to do in Yosemite National Park

  • Black Bears at Crane Flat
    Black Bears at Crane Flat
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  • Tunnel View
    Tunnel View
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  • Views from Glacier Point
    Views from Glacier Point
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Yosemite National Park

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    Yosemite: the three-headed monster

    by richiecdisc Written Sep 23, 2009

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    Yosemite National Park is divided into three areas: Yosemite Valley, Tioga Road, and Wawona. Each has a beauty and charm all its own so to truly see a good representation of the park, you need to see all three. Most first time visitors only visit Yosemite Valley and certainly if time is limited it's not a bad strategy but you must realize that you are missing quite of bit of what the park has to offer in doing so.

    The Valley is accessed via a one-way loop road that is serviced by shuttle bus with full amenities, hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, and many trailheads. For proximity, the Glacier Point Road would be included in the area though it is not truly within the Valley Drive.

    the Valley does have its charms
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    hike to Cloud's Rest

    by richiecdisc Updated Sep 24, 2009

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    The Cloud's Rest is the highest visible peak from the Valley floor at nearly 10,000 feet and can be climbed from the Valley or more easily from Tioga Road though it is not a flat stroll from there either. It climbs 2300 feet in 7 miles. We opted for the latter as we were camping at White Wolf and preferred to avoid the crowds in the Valley. This was a good idea in theory but once we got on the trail at Tenaya Lake we ran into a swell of water that made walking across in our boots a poor choice (unless you like hiking for 14 miles in wet boots!). We backtracked to our car, grabbed our water sandals and returned ready.

    On the way over we noticed some mosquitoes but were more concerned with getting to the other side. Once across, we stopped to change back into our boots and were swarmed by hundreds. Needless to say we didn't sit and enjoy the moment. Once on the trail we were fine but whenever we stopped, especially near any kind of water, there were lots of mosquitoes. The worst part was towards the top where there was still a lot of snow to traverse. It was tricky footing in places so not exactly quick going and the mosquitoes were all over us. We wondered where they were coming from but later surmised that with the snow melting, there were surely big pools of water beneath-perfect for mosquitoes to lay their eggs!

    There was a bit of a ridge walk out to the Cloud's Rest top which was a little hairy but at least there weren't any bugs out there. The views from the top were amazing, with Yosemite Valley sprawling out before us, including good views of Half Dome. We hung out for a bit but knew we had a fair walk back. We would have preferred to keep walking down into the Valley even though it would have been a longer hike and a big elevation drop but our car was unfortunately back on Tioga Road. We would have done anything to avoid the mosquitoes! We were better prepared but going down the snowy sections was tougher (and slower) than going up so attacked again we were. Back at the water crossing near the beginning, we decided to take turns putting on our sandals with the other one swatting the mosquitoes. It helped a bit but was nevertheless nerve wrecking. I'm not sure I'll ever forget that wining buzzing sound in my ears ever again.

    Half Dome puffing no mozzies on Cloud's Rest itself dramatic views of Half Dome from Cloud's Rest
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  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo

    More Views--Mariposa Grove

    by VeronicaG Updated Sep 4, 2007

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    We visited Mariposa Grove in the late afternoon, when the sun was intense. It was blessed relief to be shaded beneath these huge, living 'umbrellas'. I loved the mossy smell of the woods, filled with bird calls!

    Mariposa Grove has several trails which can take you through the Lower or Upper Groves, where you'll find these amazing trees:

    The BACHELOR AND THREE GRACES,
    THE GRIZZILY GIANT (thought to be over 2,700 years old), THE TUNNEL TREE
    THE FAITHFUL COUPLE

    If you'd like to ride through the grove, a tram is available to take visitors to see these sights. (picture 5).

    Lightning fires are prevalent in the late summer at Yosemite Park. The heat generated by the fire actually helps the Sequoia release its seeds. Soon...a tree is born!

    In the Spring and Fall, park rangers begin controlled burns--this practice removes accumulated debris and small evergreens and brush from the forest floor

    Mariposa Grove is also home to lofty Sugar Pines, whose cones can reach two feet in length (picture 4)! Our guide told us that once a cone of this size fell and smashed someone's windshield.

    **Yosemite Sightseeing Tours took us on a daylong trek through the national park--we highly recommend them. Ask for Sherri, she was an informative source and a wonderful guide!

    Our knowledgable guide, Sherri I Can't See the Forest For the Trees! Tall Tree-Wee Person A Sugar Pine Sporting Cones Open-air Tram
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  • PA2AKgirl's Profile Photo

    Wawona

    by PA2AKgirl Written Mar 11, 2004

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    There's a lot to do down here, so I recommend staying here for at least one day, perhaps more. Other than the Mariposa Grove, there are many hikes to choose from. I mentioned the great place to swim in Wawona in another tip--the hike to get there is called the Swinging Bridge hike It's a moderate hike--a 5 mile loop. I enjoy this one because of the swimming, of course.
    Another wonderful hike in the area is the Chilnualna Fall hike which is more difficult and longer--8.2 miles to the top of the fall. However, there are very few people out here, so if you leave early in the morning, take some food, it's a great way to spend the day. You get up there and can just relax on the rocks, get in the water...it's great.
    The Meadow Loop is very pretty--lots of wonderful plants and flowers, perhaps mule deer, birds, etc...it's only 3.2 miles and flat.

    Other than hikes, you can play golf in Wawona, visit the hotel and have a meal here, go swimming, attend lots of programs including campfires...
    One of the best things to do here is to go to the stable and go on a stage ride--you'll pass through a little village that looks like the wild west during the gold rush. the man who gives the tours looks like's from that period too--the way the whole thing is set up is pretty authentic and entertaining.

    In the summers, there are also "barn dances" that lots of people attend. It's pretty funny--they have a caller, it's square or line dancing and though i'm not usually into that sort of thing, it's fun in Yosemite!

    Get a "Yosemite Today" available thoroughout the park and it will give you times and other information about the events. It's published weekly and also online

    Old Wells Fargo building
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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    go where your feet take you

    by richiecdisc Updated Sep 24, 2009

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    With over 750 miles of trails criss-crossing Yosemite National Park, it is safe to say that it is one of the premier hiking parks in the US National Park system. Trails range from wheel chair accessible paved flat strolls to cable-assisted slick rock climbs. While not everyone that visits the park takes advantage of this fine network, they are far from devoid of traffic. You will see entire families backpacking and senior citizens doing hikes you might not imagine possible. This park attracts a wide range of hikers and it's easy to see why once you get out on the trails. They are very well marked and maintained and bring you to some incredibly scenic places.

    The trail heads are scattered all over the park and with two vehicles you could hike from one part of the park to another over the course of a day or a few days. Rangers can help you pick out a hike that best suits your ability and interests.

    pick a trail, any trail
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    Rushing water

    by acemj Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The park is a great place to listen to the sound of rushing water. I love that sound. The Merced River runs through the Valley and offers great views and for the more adventurous, some leisurely to moderate rafting opportunities between approximately June and July.

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  • pigletsmom's Profile Photo

    Check out the Visitor Center

    by pigletsmom Written Feb 21, 2004

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    The Yosemite Valley Visitor Center is a nice place to start your visit. It provides hiking info, trail maps, and history of the Valley along with info on Conservation projects. Detailed topographically maps of how the valley was created along with other geological info are also provided. There is also a book store. The center is cozy, along with a snack shop and grocery store. Good place to get a hot chocolate in winter.

    The visitor center in its ideal location
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  • IceBear7's Profile Photo

    Ranger Walks

    by IceBear7 Written Oct 24, 2004

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    Every day there is a big selection of free ranger tours on offer (I guess it's more during the summer). They usually start at one of the hotels or amphitheaters and there are different topics.

    I went on a tour with the topics of bears. It's not really a hike or long walk but the ranger took our group to some spots important for bears. The ranger really knew a lot about bears! He told us all about the bears' body, daily routine, stages in their lives, their behaviour during the year, their skills, their sense of smell especially, and he patiently answered all the questions people had.

    Very very interesting!

    Mr. Bear
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    Museum and Visitor Center

    by IceBear7 Written Nov 1, 2004

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    Sure, you come to Yosemite because of the nature and outdoors, but especially during your first visit you should take some time to visit the museum and walk around the visitor center.

    You get lots of information on geology and history of the park and how it is managed today. Another important part is the story of the Native Americans who used to live in the park and still do, the Ahwahneechee in particular. They also show a great film with pictures of the park in every season. After you've seen it yuo can't wait to get outside and enjoy the stunning nature of the park in real.

    Outside the museum are some building of a Native Indian Village, some of them, like the sweat house, are stil in use.

    Yosemite Museum
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  • karenincalifornia's Profile Photo

    Take a walk before dawn

    by karenincalifornia Updated Jan 6, 2004

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    In early January, sunrise at Yosemite isn't until 7:30 am, which is way too late to start my day. Some of the best walks are taken before the sun is up. At 6 am, I put on my Sorels, grabbed a flashlight, and took the most beautiful walk to Yosemite Falls.

    Before the sun hits Yosemite Falls, the canyon wall around the falls is covered with layers of ice ice. This picture was taken before sunrise. The white of the upper falls is not water but mostly ice. Only a small trickle of water was actually flowing down.

    Yosemite Falls before dawn
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    Visit the Ansel Adams Gallery

    by karenincalifornia Written Jan 6, 2004

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    I could spend hours here at this gallery. Many Ansel Adams photographs are on display and available for purchase.

    This photo is NOT an Ansel Adams photograph. It is a photo by an Ansel Adams wannabee.

    Half Dome in Winter
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  • PA2AKgirl's Profile Photo

    Mono Lake

    by PA2AKgirl Updated Jun 3, 2004

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    It's just strange, that's why you should see it. Towers of calcium carbonate... It's a lot of Planet of the Apes...or something from science fiction. It's one of the oldest continuous lakes that exists in the world--over 700,000 years.

    Something I learned very recently about mono lake is that there are 2 islands in the lake which are "volcanic mounds" While there hasn't been activity for some time, there are signs that it will become active again.

    There's also hiking in the area...it's hot and dry, though, so bring lots of water to drink.

    mono lake

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  • mtncorg's Profile Photo

    TIOGA ROAD CA 120 - TENAYA LAKE

    by mtncorg Written Nov 30, 2003

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    Just east of Olmstead Point lies Tenaya Lake, a lake of incredible blueness set into a granitic bowl. Come later in the afternoon and the crowds that infest Yosemite will be all too obvious here, too. Come early, or late. Hike higher during the day.

    Early morning at Tenaya Lake
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    MT HOFFMANN

    by mtncorg Written Nov 30, 2003

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    10850 feet/3307 meters high, this is an easily climbed peak ascending a boot path from the south shore of May Lake up through meadows and marmots. The peak is in the middle of the Park and appropriately, you see most of the Park from up here.

    From Hoffmann over Lake May and the Sierran Crest
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    CLOUDS REST

    by mtncorg Written Nov 30, 2003

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    Most attention centers on Half Dome and that is fine with me. Clouds Rest - 9926 feet/3025 meters - is not ony higher but provides much wider views. It is a long ways from the Valley floor. Better to hike up here from Tenaya Lake.

    From Clouds Rest to Half Dome and Yosemite Valley
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