Yosemite National Park: A Travel Breakdown
Over 10 millennia ago, Native Americans were the first to inhabit the Yosemite Valley, also known as “Ahwahnee” or “place of the gaping mouth.” These inhabitants called themselves the Ahwahneechee and these periodic traders were no strangers to their sister tribes over the eastern side of the Sierra.
Yosemite started to see an influx of visitors, entrepreneurs and opportunists during the mid 1800s, where they capitalized on the import of goods due to the park’s remote location. Soon after, Yosemite became a permanent homestead for cattle ranchers, agriculturalists and the like in the 1860s. A homesteader, by the name of Galen Clark, soon made the discovery of Mariposa Grove and its massive Sequoias in 1855 that would change the significance of Yosemite Valley for centuries to come. His effort to preserve the sequoias from logging lead to the involvement of Congress and later, the Yosemite Grant. Abraham Lincoln himself signed the Yosemite Grant during the Civil War, making Yosemite the first territory set out for strictly public use and preservation.
A few years later, America’s most iconic naturalist and conservationist John Muir and company launched a campaign to designate the area as an official national park. They finally succeeded in 1890 with the consent of Congress. The 1,500 square miles became known as Yosemite National Park on October 1, 1890.
Yosemite Natinoal Parks: Travel Tips
Accessible Trails: Lower Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Mirror Lake.
Park Fees & Permits:
- Admission is valid for seven days.
- $20 per vehicle or $10 per individual
- Wilderness Permit required for backcountry camping and/or climbing.
- The park is open 24/7 year-round. All entrances are open at all hours, except for Hetch Hetchy Entrance, which is open roughly dawn to dusk.
- Avoid busy holiday periods (i.e. July 4)
- To avoid crowds and experience great weather, visit midweek, mid-April through May or mid-September through October.
Escape the crowds: Hike the Valley Loop Trail
Big Tip: Don’t drive! The traffic backs up everything and walking is usually faster. Alternatively, take the free shuttle, since it hits all the popular spots in the valley.
Here's a map of Yosemite National Park:
- Curry Village, starting at $39/night → Book Now
- Wawona Hotel, starting at $89/night → Book Now
- Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, starting at $149/night → Book Now
- Evergreen Lodge At Yosemite, starting at $270/night → Book Now
- Ahwahnee Hotel, starting at $413/night → Book Now
Things To Do
Classic Hikes: Mist Trail to Vernal Fall, Four-Mile Trail, Yosemite Falls Trail, or the Glacier Point trails
Winter Fun: Ice-skating rink at Curry Village, Ski School at Badger Pass, Cross-Country Skiing along Glacier Point Road.
- Chefs' Holidays: Celebrated chefs host cooking demonstrations and multi-course meals at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Village on weekends.Space is limited.
- Fireman's Muster: Festival of antique fire engines, fine art, a parade of the old pumpers and more in Columbia, CA.
- Mother Lode Roundup Parade and Rodeo: Sonora celebrates its gold-mining, agricultural, and lumbering heritage with a parade, rodeo, entertainment, and food.
- Mammoth Lakes Jazz Jubilee: Founded in 1989, this festival features plenty of live entertainment and more!
- Mother Lode Fair: Sonora celebrates its gold-mining roots with a grand fair at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds.
- Bluesapalooza: The first weekend of every August, Mammoth Lakes hosts a blues and beer festival.
- Sierra Art Trails: Tons of art on display throughout eastern Madera and Mariposa counties. For locations and hours, visit their website.
- Vintners' Holidays: Free seminars conducted with some of California's most prestigious vintners at the Great Room of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Village. Banquet dinner included.
- Bracebridge Dinner: A 17th-century-theme madrigal dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Village that’s been around every Christmas since 1928.
The park’s biodiversity offers up a whole range of activities for all times of the year! Hiking Half Dome, being overshadowed by the Sequoias, nature walks with the family, swimming holes in the summer, snowshoeing in the winter and more. Don’t limit yourself to the “tourist destinations”. With so many resources around the park, take advantage of the road less traveled and you won’t regret it.