Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is located in California, 500km north of Los Angeles and 300km east of San Francisco, in the heart of the Sierra Nevada. It is one of the jewels of the American natural parks.

The national park has an area of ​​about 3000 km² (but tourists are concentrated in only 1% of the Yosemite valley) and includes one of the most beautiful alpine valleys in the world. There Yosemite Valley it is 13 km long and only 1600 m wide. Steep granite walls with a height of 1000 m rise on both sides of the valley. Between nine waterfalls that go down to the valley, five of them have a height of more than 300 m.

Yosemite has less than 320 km of paved roads but over 1300 km of hiking trails. More than 95% of the park is designated as Wilderness. This is a fascinating place for walking and hiking. The place is also ideal for climbing vertical granite walls.

Yosemite National Park also contains an impressive one giant sequoia forest, a ski resort and a passage to the eastern California desert. The Tioga Pass it is located at an altitude of 3031 m and is generally closed in winter. Just beyond the pass is the mono lake with its unusual limestone deposits and the well-preserved ghost town of bodie.

A bit of history

The Ahwahneechee Indian tribe has lived peacefully for 4000 years in Yosemite Valley. But the gold rush in 1851 and, more generally, the colonization of the American West led to the exile of this tribe. After several and long conflicts between miners and Indians, the latter had to flee and seek refuge in a nearby tribe.

In the late 1870s, the famous naturalist John Muir (who gave his name to the beautiful redwood forest of the Muir woods north of San Francisco) worked to protect and safeguard this extraordinary region and managed to win the trust of the United States Congress. It is now considered the founding father of national parks. Thus, in 1890, a bill for the conservation of Yosemite was adopted, which officially became a national park in 1890.

Visit of the park

The park boasts a extremely rich flora and fauna: more than 1000 species of plants and 400 of animals of all kinds. Remember, it is strictly forbidden to feed them, it would damage their balance. And be careful not to leave the food in the vehicle: in fact, the bears they don't hesitate to break through the glass if they smell it.

Yosemite Park is undoubtedly the pearl of the American West. On 3000 km², between 600 m and 4000 m of altitude, you can contemplate a landscape composed of sequoias, cliffs, waterfalls and a river, the Favor.

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Mappa Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Park is large and is divided into several sectors:

  • Yosemite Valley: this is where all the services are located (hotels, restaurants, campsites, shops…) but it is also the starting point for a multitude of walks, which allow you to see the impressive waterfalls of the park.
  • Glacier Point Road: you go up a little altitude along this road. Its main interest is the viewpoint on the Half dome which reveals all its majesty. But this area is full of small hikes that deserve the detour, such as climbing to the top of the Sentinel Dome, be on the edge of the Taft Point, or for the more ambitious, up to Yosemite Valley from Panorama Trail.
  • Tioga Road: undoubtedly the most beautiful street in Yosemite! Very pleasant i lakes and meadows overlooking the Tioga Road which allows you to cross the Sierra Nevada.
  • You see: for those who want to see beautiful specimens of sequoie giganti, a nice trail runs through the forest of Mariposa Grove.

To see

Yosemite Valley

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Half Dome in Yosemite National Park -

Yosemite Valley, home to many of Yosemite National Park's famous cliffs and waterfalls, is accessible by car and bus year-round.

Brindalveil Fall 

It is called the 'Bridal Veil' waterfall. A steep path leads to its base, where swirling winds often bathe visitors as well.

El Capitan

In front of the falls, on the other side, you will see the silhouette of El Capitan. Perched at 2.307 meters it is one of the largest granite monoliths in the world. This smooth granite wall is widely considered to be the hardest rock to climb on the planet.

Half dome

In the background, we can also see the distant profile of the Half Dome, 2.693 meters high, which is a huge monolith cut in the center and streaked with a black band. Its rise is for the more experienced. In the last 200 meters you climb the rock with the help of metal cables fixed to the rock. The National Park Service has implemented a lottery system to decrease the flow of tourists. For more information, visit the official Yosemite NP website.

Yosemite Falls

Two 739m waterfalls, Lower Yosemite Falls and Upper Yosemite Falls, make up the third largest waterfall in North America and the fifth largest in the world. The best time to admire their beauty is in spring, when the snow of the glaciers melts and the water reaches its maximum power.

An easy 30-minute round trip takes you to the foot of the falls. You can also take the Yosemite Falls Trail to reach theUpper Fall, but it will take 6 to 8 hours round trip.

In southern Yosemite Valley

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Glacier Point Yosemite –

Tunnel View

On Wawona Road, just before the tunnel entrance. Sublime point of view! Valley panorama, Bridalveil Fall in the foreground, El Capitan and Half Dome in the background.

Glacier point

Glacier Point, an observation point with stunning views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, is accessible by car and bus from late May to October or November. It can also be reached from one of the two hiking trails, the Four Mile Trail (difficult, 6 hours round trip) or Panorama Trail  (less abrupt, 10 hours round trip).

Taft Point

Easy hike that takes you to a viewpoint on the southern part of the valley and Yosemite Falls (3,2km round trip), located 3,2km from the glacier. Along the way, “cracks” (large vertical cracks in granite rocks) appear. Be careful because these are 600 m deep cracks.

Mariposa Grove

Large forest of giant sequoias (about 500 specimens, one of which is 3000 years old, exceeds 17 m in circumference at the base). It is a 4,8 km (2 hours) route around the most beautiful specimens of sequoias.

In the north of Yosemite Valley

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Tioga Pass –

Tioga Road

The Tioga Road is the highest road in California, crossing the Tioga Pass at 9.945 feet. It's a panoramic road between Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows, which passes through forests and meadows, lakes and granite domes. It offers many fantastic points of view. It usually is open from the end of May to November, depending on weather conditions, and is closed every winter.

Tuolumne Grove

Less than a mile before the intersection with the Big Oak Flat Road on the Tioga road, you come to a small redwood forest (4km round trip). Another small redwood forest is visible on US 120, near the east entrance, a Merced Grove.

Olmsted Point

At Olmsted Point on Tioga Road, you have a panoramic view of Tenaya Canyon and you can see the Half Dome from a different angle. It is very easy to reach, only 400m from the road.

Tuolumne Meadows

Situated on the great plain of Tioga Road, this vast expanse offers food and lodging in the summer, as well as a gas station and small visitor center.

It is also a starting point for fantastic excursions to mountain lakes, such as Elizabeth Lake (7,7 km - 4 hours) or Cathedral Lakes (11 km - 5 hours).

West of Yosemite Valley

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Waterfall in Yosemite Park -

Hetch Hetchy Valley

This still little-known area of ​​Yosemite is located northwest of the park, 21 km from US 120. The access road is called Evergreen Road. You enter Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, a large lake created by a dam on the Tuolumne River. From there, there are various excursions to the falls, such as Wapama Fall (8km round trip).

To do

The camping is extremely popular in Yosemite.

Hiking - With over 750 miles of trails to explore, the options for hiking are endless!
Guided tours - Yosemite Welcome Center offers year-round excursions. All tours begin in the Yosemite Valley.

Climbing - Yosemite is one of the largest climbing areas in the world. Climbers here can enjoy an infinite variety of challenges.

Observe the stars - Yosemite National Park, miles away from city lights, has a very dark night sky which makes it a great place for stargazing.

Winter sports - Skiing or visiting the park with snowshoes, these are among the most popular activities.

Water activities - Rafting is very popular during the summer along the Merced River. Then fishing, swimming and boating are all very enjoyable activities.

In addition, the park allows cycling, bird watching, horseback riding and much more.

Practical information

Location, access

Yosemite National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in eastern California, a 3-hour drive from San Francisco and 6 hours from Los Angeles.

Access to the park is through 4 main entrances:

  • Arch Rock Entrance: da Merced via California Highway 140
  • Big Oak Flat Entrance: da ovest tramite California Highway 120
  • South Entrance: From the south via California Highway 41
  • Tioga Pass Entrance: From the east via California Highway 120 The road is closed from mid-November to late May due to snow.

Non-motorized visitors can travel to Yosemite by bus. YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System) offers regular connections from Merced Station. Rates and information available on the official YARTS website.

There is no gas station in the park.

Inside the park, you can use the shuttle buses to get from one point to another.

Entry price

  • $ 35 per car, $ 30 per bike, pass valid for 7 days
  • Il pass America the Beautiful is accepted.

Opening Hours 

Yosemite National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and no reservations are required. However, Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station is only open during daylight hours and some streets are closed due to snow from around November to May or June.

Visit time

2 full days for the main points of interest. Several days for hiking enthusiasts

When to visit Yosemite 

It depends on what you try to do and see and each season has its advantages.



Most of the accommodations in the park are located in the Yosemite Valley, Half Dome Village, The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. These different homes are stormed during the summer months, so it is strongly recommended to book even 4 months before arrival.

If you decide to stay outside the park, the best border towns are The portal (closest to the park), Oakhurst to the south, Butterfly Groveland a ovest, e Lee Vining a is.


Many campsites are also open in the summer months in various areas of the park. See the official Yosemite NP website.

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Half Dome Yosemite –
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