It’s a tricky question. Actually, the best time is when YOU are there! There isn’t any “officially proclaimed” best time to visit Yosemite. The park is fantastic all year round and no matter what season you choose to go, there are magical moments to be.
The answer can depend on your personality. Reflective types will find a silent one-on-one with El Capitan extremely satisfying. Active types will enjoy childishly running around, hopping on the rocks and descending the bank of the Merced River to find the Instagram-perfect spot with Half Dome or Bridalveil Fall in the background.
In late spring and early summer, when melting snow from the Sierra Nevada Mountains thunders down into the valley, the waterfalls create unprecedented beauty. Picture-perfect spots are always crowded. You will feel like you are at the center of the World as you happily become part of the peculiar aura surrounding this special place. Hug. Laugh. Smile. Have a moment. The monumentality of the solemn granite walls creates a feeling of safety… as if Mother Nature is protecting you against all the turbulence of the world.
If this is not enough, hiking past the Vernal Fall on the Mist Trail will do the trick. Insider’s tip: The trail to the base of falls is an easy hike, but it is slippery in spring and icy in winter, so wearing appropriate sturdy shoes is a good idea.
In fall and winter, there are other hidden gems to discover. On the northern side of the Yosemite Valley, cascading off the east side of El Capitan, the Horsetail Fall flows from December to April. In the evening, the extraordinary golden glow from the setting sun makes the waterfall look as if it has caught on fire. WOW! Unbelievable!
Have you seen a rainbow? Sure, it’s spectacular, but wait till you see a Moonbow! In Yosemite, you can witness this rare phenomenon (also called Lunar Rainbow) that occurs when the moonlight is reflected and refracted off water droplets produced by a waterfall. The best time to see moonbows is during the full moon. There are only a few locations on the planet where you can see lunar rainbows: the Yosemite National Park in California; Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Kentucky; Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe; and Waimea in Hawaii.
The “WOW” frequency in Yosemite Park is the highest in the world! Ok, don’t bother fact checking that! Ha! But here are facts and figures that won’t lie.
Facts and Figures About Yosemite
When was Yosemite National Park established?
Yosemite National Park, California, was established by the United States Congress on Oct 1, 1890.
Why is Yosemite called Yosemite?
The name Yohhe’meti (Southern Miwok) or Yos.s.e’meti (Central Miwok) originally referred to the Indian tribes who used to live in the valley. The original inhabitants called the area Ahwahnee (big mouth) because the valley’s walls resemble a bear’s mouth. Back in the day, pioneers tended to disregard native names of the places they discovered. In 1851, L.H.Bunnell of the Mariposa Battalion of volunteers named the valley Yosemite in honor of the tribe who used to live there. He thought Yosemite meant “grizzly bear,” however, Yosemite, in fact, means “those who kill”. Go figure!
Who is Yosemite Sam?
Don’t try to find Yosemite Sam in history books. It is an animated cartoon character in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons by Warner Bros. Yosemite Sam is commonly perceived as an overly aggressive character.
How big is Yosemite National Park?
The park covers an area of 747,956 acres (1,168.681 sq mi, or 302,687 ha, or 3,026.87 km2).
Who manages Yosemite Park?
The park is managed by the U.S. National Park Service. Yosemite is open year-round and has 3 entrances. The east entrance (Tioga Pass) is closed from October to May every year.
How much is the Park Entrance Fee?
Parking fees are increasing in June 2018. Effective June 1, 2018: $35 per vehicle; $70 annual pass; $20 per person aged 16 or older.
What is the latest speed-climbing record in Yosemite?
I am glad you asked! The world’s speed-climbing record was just broken on June 6, 2018, by the “Yosemite’s most illustrious climbers” Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold who teamed up to scale the 3,000-foot prow of El Capitan in 1 hour, 58 minutes, and 7 seconds. Good job, guys! If you want to try it, remember that permits to hike to the top of Half Dome are required seven days per week.
What is the highest waterfall in North America?
The 2,425 feet high Yosemite Falls are the highest North American waterfalls (and the 5th highest in the world!).
What is the peak season for the waterfalls?
May is the peak season because this is the time when snow peaks start melting fast. About 135,000 gallons of water drop over the top of the waterfalls every minute.
What is the best airport for traveling to Yosemite?
The San Francisco International Airport is located about 200 miles west of Yosemite National Park. You can take public transportation from San Francisco (Amtrak train) or rent a car. A much better way than driving and being stuck in traffic would be taking a bus tour to Yosemite from San Francisco. This way, you will sit and relax and won’t waste any valuable time because your tour guide will talk about the history of the places you are passing by and show you the most interesting landmarks on your way to the park and back.
You could also choose Fresno Airport, which is closer to Yosemite, but San Francisco has a lot more to offer for its visitors. You can go on a San Francisco City Tour before or after your trip to Yosemite, and enjoy urban beauty and historical landmarks of the City, walk on the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, say “Hi” to sea lions on Pier 39, visit Alcatraz, have delicious lunch at one of the local restaurants while enjoying the view of the bay and do so much more!
See you soon.