Dramatic granite monoliths, stunning valleys and amazing waterfalls strike awe in everyone who visits this special place. It is hard to describe how incredible Yosemite National Park is, that’s why it's easier to quote the man whose writings helped to preserve and establish Yosemite National Park.
“It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.” Words that still ring true, written by legendary naturalist and mountaineer John Muir. If a sentence like this describes the Yosemite National Park, you know you are up for something truly special! Let’s wait no more, and discover the best things to do in one of the most famous and beautiful national parks of them all, the Yosemite.
Hiking & Backpacking
When you visit a national park with such diversity like Yosemite, there is no doubt that hiking and backpacking will be your best bet to experience the epic natural surroundings. And Yosemite is simply outstanding for hiking and trekking lovers! The park hosts all kind of trails from strenuous and challenging treks to moderate and easy walks. Every single one of them has their own distinctive rewards. But only for those who dare to step foot into the wild! Striking mountains, breathtaking vistas, spectacular waterfalls, and marvelous lakes. Hiking and backpacking will reveal all the gems and jewels that Yosemite has to offer. With 95% of protected wilderness and more than one thousand square miles of pristine nature, the trails of Yosemite National Park will show you how beautiful this part of the Sierras can be!
From the legendary El Capitan to the iconic Half Dome, there’s no secret that Yosemite National Park is one of the best playgrounds on the planet for rock climbing enthusiasts. Rock climbing is a year-round activity in the park, with various programs from Yosemite Mountaineering School to help achieve a great experience regardless of your ability. From half-day and full-day climbs to multiple-day and overnight sessions and adventures, Yosemite has it all for climbing lovers, world-class athletes, and aspiring beginner climbers. The choice is yours in the unlimited climbing arena that is Yosemite National Park!
From tubing on the Merced River to fishing and exploring, you must take advantage of the great water activities at Yosemite! You can do some amazing fishing for rainbow and brown trout in the lakes, streams and rivers at Yosemite National Park -- but you'll want to make sure you follow all the rules and regulations! The season for stream and river fishing begins on the last Saturday in April and continues through November 15. All lakes and reservoirs are open to fishing year-round. Fishing supplies are available in Yosemite. Fishing licenses (for those over 16) are available at the Mountain Shop at Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) and the Pioneer Gift & Grocery in Wawona.
Whether it’s a crisp mountain breeze, a lovely stream or powerful waterfall, nature sounds are always soothing and harmonious. But here, in Yosemite National Park one of the most melodic notes comes from one of the most lovely inhabitants of the park. With nearly 200 species of birds migrating, breeding and wintering in Yosemite, birdwatching is one of the essential activities that combines educational and adventurous aspects to create an unforgettable experience! From the Acorn woodpecker, American robin to Ravens and beautiful Western tanagers, to mention a few, Yosemite National Park is home to birds worth discovering and admiring.
Ranger & Other Programs
Whether its for you or maybe your curious kids, consider participating in one of the Yosemite’s programs to tackle the informative side of Yosemite. For the little ones keen on becoming real explorers and rangers, the most notable program is Junior Rangers where kids aged 7-13 take a one-hour Junior Ranger Walk while completing activity book and picking up litter to keep the park clean.
If you are up for packing in some knowledge too, opt for simple programs to spice up your stay and make your other activities much more interesting. Participating in free programs like the Naturalist Stroll, you'll only spend an hour, while the naturalist will shed some light on Yosemite’s trees, John Muir and more. Or be entertained by listening to stories about native people, early settlers, geology and nature with Yosemite Ranger Walks & Talks. All kinds of programs are available in the park, and are easy to fit in your adventurous schedule!
Winter is where a national park like Yosemite turns into something special and magical with plenty of different activities to tackle. This is where you will find even more tranquility and solitude. While some trails are accessible during the winter and snowshoeing is available, the most fun attractions are winter sports like cross-country skiing, snowboarding and ice skating. Take a look at the snowy Half Dome while ice skating at Half Dome Village Ice Rink or visit the oldest downhill skiing area in California, the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area. Other opportunities like snow tubing or sledding are also available in the park. Winter is a wonderful time of year to experience nature from a different perspective and conquer the Yosemite National Park with new challenges.
There you go! All you need now is to embrace the opportunities and beautiful adventures Yosemite National Park has to offer. With so many different activities and attractions combined with the vastness of the park and not-to-be-missed marvels of nature, consider planning extensively beforehand to make sure you’re ready and good to go once you arrive!
Rob Decker is a photographer, artist and craftsman who is passionate about preserving the nostalgic style of the WPA-era. Rob had the rare privilege of studying under renowned photographer Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, Rob's creating WPA-style posters of our national parks. He's picking up where the masters from that time left off, building on what they began to create a whole new body of National Park poster art for today's generation. Every Limited Edition poster, Artist Proof and postcard he produces is printed in the USA on “Conservation” a 100% recycled, domestically produced stock with soy-based inks. And they are printed by one of the greenest printers in America, right here in Colorado.