Visit Yosemite National Park in the off-season, when you will find fewer crowds, more affordable lodging and an array of activities.
Spring, fall and winter are the perfect times to explore some of Yosemite’s more off-the-beaten-path places. Use the free Yosemite Valley shuttle to explore the park on your own, ride the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS), or book a guided tour for an insider’s look at this beloved natural landmark.
Hiking Hetch Hetchy
The 19th-century naturalist John Muir likened Hetch Hetchy Valley to “a wonderfully exact counterpart of the great Yosemite [valley]” – minus the crowds. Take the eight-kilometer hike around the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir to Wapama Falls. This easy trek is great for all fitness levels, and in the spring, winter snowmelt brings the 366-meter-high falls rushing to life.
Stunning mountain views of Hetch Hetchy
Trail-Happy in Tuolumne Meadows
When Tioga Road is open (generally mid-May through mid-November), you can access a number of trails in Tuolumne Meadows, including a section of the famous John Muir Trail. Experienced hikers can try snowshoeing the challenging Snow Creek Trail, which is open all seasons and ascends to the rim of Yosemite Valley. For an unforgettable, full-service adventure, check out the tour options from Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides.
The verdant expanse of Tuolumne Meadows
Tooling around Tenaya Lake
Tenaya Lake, chock-full of brook trout and easily accessed by car, is excellent for fishing. If you just want to get on the water, try canoeing, kayaking or sailing on the lake’s placid waters. Stroll along the walking trail and have your camera ready for shots of the extraordinary granite rock features that dominate the lake on three sides.
Paddling around in a kayak on Tenaya Lake
See the Giant Sequoias
Don’t miss a chance to see sky-high trees that date back more than a thousand years. Of the three groves in the park, the Mariposa Grove is the largest and is located in the historic town of Wawona near the south entrance to the park. The Tuolumne and Merced Groves are smaller, and both require you to park and hike to the groves – which means more scenery and even fewer crowds.
Wandering among the bases of towering sequoias in Mariposa Grove
Winter Escape: Cross-Country Skiing
Visit Yosemite in the winter for a variety of snow sports, especially cross-country skiing. With tracks set by machine, Glacier Point Road is the ideal route for a more leisurely ski. Opt to do the full 33-kilometer out-and-back trip to Glacier Point or turn around sooner (the last few kilometers of the return trip are uphill). Make time to take in stunning views of the Clark Range, or stop for lunch in one of the scenic meadows along the way.
The Ski Hut at Glacier Point, which overlooks Yosemite Valley, Half Dome and Yosemite High Country
Mammoth Yosemite Airport and Fresno-Yosemite International Airport are the nearest airports to California's Yosemite National Park. International Airports in San Francisco and Sacramento are a few hours away from Yosemite by car and offer more global flight options. Public transportation from all airports into Yosemite is available seasonally (except for the west gateway, Highway 140 which is available year-round) via Amtrak, Greyhound, and YARTS. YARTS offers seasonal bus service from nearby cities including Merced, Mariposa, Sonora, Groveland, Lee Vining, Mammoth Lakes, Oakhurst and Fresno, and it connects to major hotels near Yosemite.
YARTS Public Transportation to Yosemite, which makes it easy to see all the park's incredible sights