How to Plan a Yosemite Trip

Yosemite National Park is a world famous destination for good reason. Renowned for stunning landscapes, iconic landmarks, and diverse wildlife, there is so much to see and do in this 1,169-square mile park – so how do you plan a Yosemite trip?

Rainbow Over Tuolumne Meadows (Robb Hirsch)
Rainbow over Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite National Park Essentials

When you’re ready to visit Yosemite, consider what you want out of your trip. The park experiences a range of weather patterns throughout the year, from hot summer and mild spring to chilly fall and snowy winter, and each season presents unique opportunities for exploration. 

Summer is the best time to visit Yosemite for hiking, with warm and dry weather creating the ideal conditions for outdoor activities like hiking in addition to swimming, rock climbing, and more. 

Spring in Yosemite is great for slow-paced wildflower spotting and white water rafting – two very different ends of the adventure spectrum! Spring marks the beginning of Yosemite’s largest wildflower bloom, which takes several months to complete. Snowmelt contributes to the rushing rivers and magnificent waterfalls, carrying power and beauty from Yosemite’s mountaintops. 

Visiting Yosemite in fall is ideal for long-haul hikes, as the cooler temperatures and vibrant fall colors transform the park into an autumnal wonderland. Fall is also peak rock climbing season in Yosemite, so keep your eyes peeled for climbers moving up and down iconic sights like Half Dome and El Capitan. 

Winter in Yosemite means snow and snow sports! Some trails throughout the park are accessible via snowshoe, a fun and unique way to see the park blanketed in snow. Visitors also love to ski and snow tube in Yosemite during the winter months.

Firefall Ranch King Room, Sitting Area Queen Sofa Bed, Indoor/Outdoor Fireplace and Deck (Tracy Barbutes)
Cabin interior at Firefall Ranch.

Find Your Yosemite Lodging

Lodging in Yosemite ranges from rustic campsites to cozy cabins. Firefall Ranch, brand new in Spring 2024, offers comfortable accommodations near Yosemite National Park that are “fine but not fussy,” the perfect blend of mountain charm and thoughtful modern touches.

Choose from a variety of one- and two- bedroom cottages or 3-bedroom villas spread across a 300-acre mountain resort. Each unit centers around a picturesque living room with a fireplace and private deck, and is warmly furnished with comfy bedding, custom artwork, Alexa devices, gourmet coffee brewers, heated bathroom floors, and more.

Group Picnic at Hetch Hetchy (Kim Carroll).
Group picnic at Hetch Hetchy.

Planning Your Yosemite Activities

Get an insider’s look at Yosemite when you leave the planning to the experts. The experienced guides at Rush Creek Lodge and Evergreen Lodge lead tours through many areas of the park, both iconic sights and hidden gems. These Yosemite hikes and tours give you a backstage pass to Yosemite, from plane rides in the air high above to Jeep tours deep in the Valley. Browse the full selection of Yosemite guided tours.

Youth Hiking North Rim of Yosemite Valley
Group hiking north rim of Yosemite Valley.

Gear and Clothing Must Haves

Your choice of gear depends on the time of year you visit Yosemite – although you should bring your swimsuit in winter to enjoy the sauna, hot tubs, and heated pools at the lodges. For summer trips, utilize light layers and don’t forget your sunscreen, hat, and plenty of water. Cool weather trips to Yosemite require waterproof clothing to protect you against the snow, and insulated hiking boots. Bring these items along year round:

  • Hiking essentials, like your trail maps, compass and GPS, and sturdy hiking boots
  • Safety gear, like a flashlight or headlamp, multi-tool, and first aid kit
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent

No matter when you visit Yosemite, bring your sense of adventure and get ready for the trip of a lifetime. From guided tours to leisure at the lodges, there are countless ways to experience this bucket list destination in California – get started and plan your trip to Yosemite today at Firefall Ranch.

San Francisco Chronicle: A New Resort Is Opening

The San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, but distributed throughout the state from the Sacramento area and Emerald Triangle south to Santa Barbara County. It was founded in 1865 as The Daily Dramatic Chronicle by teenage brothers Charles de Young and Michael H. de Young. The paper is currently owned by the Hearst Corporation, which bought it from the de Young family in 2000.

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Travel + Leisure: There’s A Brand-New Resort Opening Near California’s Yosemite National Park

Travel + Leisure: There’s a Brand-new Resort Opening Near California’s Yosemite National Park — With 300 Acres of Gorgeous Land and Fireplace-outfitted Cottages

There’s a brand-new way to experience one of America’s most beautiful national parks.

Today, the Yosemite Hotel Collection announced the addition of Firefall Ranch, a rustic-chic getaway just minutes from the park’s northwest entrance.

The brand-new resort includes 55 stand-alone cottages and villas in one-, two-, and three-bedroom configurations, on the 300-acre property. Inside each cottage, guests will find a double-sided indoor/outdoor fireplace, covered decks, and luxury bedding to ensure a restful night’s sleep after a day of adventuring in the wilderness.

About: As a top travel media brand in the world, Travel + Leisure’s mission is to inform and inspire passionate travelers, like you. They celebrate travel and provide service and inspiration at every point of your journey, from trip ideas to nitty-gritty logistics. They cover small towns and big cities, hidden gems and tried-and-true destinations, beaches and lakes, mountains and valleys, national parks and outdoor adventures, road trips and cruises, fine-dining experiences and secret hole-in-the-wall establishments, and everything in between.

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