Yosemite National Park - Half Dome View

What to see at Yosemite National Park

We are almost at the end of our California Tour and after the Ocean, the Freeways and the Metropolis we could not even include a visit to a park. We decided to pay a visit to Yosemite National Park, lengthening our return from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and to stop for a night inside. But what to see at Yosemite National Park?

Yosemite National Park - Horsetail Fall

The Yosemite was proclaimed a National Park in 1890 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Every year millions of tourists travel thousands of miles to see its fantastic Valley. In reality the Park is much larger but most of the “attractions” are concentrated in the 11km long valley.

How to get there

To access the Yosemite Park you can use Highway 41 from the South, 140 and 120 from the West (the 120 is closed from November to May / June). Coming from San Francisco, take Highway 120 to the junction with Big Oak Flat Entrance. Whatever the entry you will find a typical Ranger at Yoghi and Bubu that will charge you for entering the park.

Yosemite National Park - Ranger

Entrance fee

The Park is open all year round with some restrictions depending on the season, at the entrance of each Park you pay depending on the means of transport:

  • Private cars, Pickup or Van up to 15 passengers – $30.00 valid for 7 days
  • Motorcycles – $25.00 valid for 7 days
  • On foot, Bicycle, Horse, Private Bus or Van with more than 15 passengers – $15.00 valid for 7 days
  • Commercial Tours
    • Van up to 6 seats – $25.00 (più $15 a persona)
    • Van from 7 to 15 seats – $125.00
    • Mini buses from 16 to 25 seats – $200.00
    • Coach with 26 or more postsi – $300.00

There are also Annual Passes or special discounts for residents, but we refer you directly to the Official Website, if you are interested.

What to see at Yosemite National Park

The main things to see inside the Park are concentrated in the Yosemite Valley, literally excavated by the Merced River:

  • Half Dome & Half Dome View, arriving at the park from the Big Oak Flat Entrance you will find on the road a breathtaking View Point that will show you the whole Valley from above and the Half Dome in the background, a mountain of 2694 m s.l.m. with a granite monolith that stands out for 1444 m from the base of the valley.
  • Glacier Point, for the more adventurous, we recommend going to the top of Glacier Point, from up here the view that is enjoyed over the whole valley is breathtaking and is certainly one of the most interesting points of the whole Park.
  • Yosemite Falls, are the highest waterfalls in the Park: 739 m of fall. The best time to see them is late spring when the amount of water is at its peak.
Yosemite National Park - Green
  • Ahwahnee Hotel, is one of the oldest structures built within the Valley, opened in 1927, became a National Historic Landmark for its historical importance in 1987.
  • Bridalveil Fall, are the most important waterfalls in the Park even if they are only 188 m high, they are always active and in the valley they are the first you will encounter.
Yosemite National Park - Bridalveil Fall
  • Cathedral Rock, not to be confused with the famous Sedona Cathedral Rock in Arizona, is a rocky complex 2026 m high s.l.m. famous worldwide for climbing enthusiasts and is part of the 50 classic North American climbs.
  • El Capitain, is a mountain of 2307 m s.l.m. which offers climbing enthusiasts numerous walls thanks to the 900 m granite monolith from the base of the valley, the most famous is called Nose.
  • Mariposa Grove, in the Yosemite National Park there are more than 1000 redwoods, but the Mariposa Grove area gathers the oldest and there are more than 200.
  • Grizzly Giant & Fallen Monarch, are among the most famous sequoias in the world: the Grizzly Giant is the largest of the entire Park and has from 1600 to 2000 years; the Fallen Monarch is a 70-meter sequoia, fallen after a landslide, today it is possible to see the roots of almost 70cm each.
  • Horsetail Fall, is a seasonal waterfall that falls directly from El Capitan with a height of 630m, around 17/19 February the waterfall becomes “La Cascata di Fuoco”: the setting sun makes the waterfall shine red, making it look like lava!
Yosemite National Park - Horsetail Fall

Where to Sleep in the Park

The Yosemite National Park is immense and even if you are not a lover of hiking and trekking we advise you to stay at least one night in the park to enjoy the atmosphere and see the bare minimum. Inside (or just outside) there are few hotels and if you are planning your trip we advise you to book your nights at Yosemite well in advance, there are few places and they are literally snapped up!

We have booked at the Yosemite View Lodge, which despite being a little dated in the furnishings and the structure is very nice and offers space rooms at a very affordable cost!

Directly inside the park you can choose between:

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