National Park Information
On the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans more than 750,000 acres and welcomes nearly 4 million visitors each year. Home to five of the world’s highest waterfalls, alpine meadows, sparkling lakes, “hanging” and U-shaped valleys, giant sequoia groves, breathtaking wildlife and massive granite formations, including Half Dome and El Capitan, Yosemite Park is an unforgettable destination that has inspired people from all walks of life to stop and enjoy the view.
As you prepare for your visit to Yosemite National Park, some interesting (and helpful) facts to keep in mind include:
Visiting the Park
- The park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but the Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station is only open during daylight hours.
- Reservations ARE NOT required to visit. (Learn more about Entrance Fees)
- Permits are required seven days per week to hike to the top of Half Dome (when the cables are up, usually late May to mid-October). Permits are granted via a lottery system.
- Yosemite Valley is seven miles long and nearly a mile wide. It’s home to Bridalveil, Vernal and Ribbon falls, Mirror Lake, Inspiration Point, 400 species of vertebrates, 12 hiking trails, shops and restaurants.
- Fishing, rafting, skiing, hiking, biking, rock climbing, birdwatching, horseback riding and scenic drives are all available in the park.
- Popular museums and galleries include the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, Yosemite Museum, Nature Center at Happy Isles, Ansel Adams Gallery, Ahwahnee Hotel, Parsons Memorial Lodge, Wawona Visitor Center, Pioneer Yosemite History Center, and Mariposa Grove Museum.
Yosemite Valley Weather (elevation: 4,000 feet)
- Yosemite receives most of its precipitation from January through March.
- Yosemite Park’s winters are snowy and cold, but can be sunny. In Yosemite Valley, temperatures typically range from a low of 28°F to an average high of 53°F.
- Springtime in the park can be unpredictable, with sunny and relatively warm days followed by chilly winter storms. In Yosemite Valley, temperatures range from an average low of 39°F to an average high of 69°F.
- Summers are generally warm to hot with occasional afternoon thunderstorms. During this season, temperatures in Yosemite Valley usually range from lows of 51°F to highs of 87°F.
- Much like spring, fall is highly variable, with temperatures ranging from hot to cold and dry to rainy or snowy – sometimes all within the same week. Average low temperatures in the fall are 35°F and average high temperatures are 54°F.
- Oct. 1, 2015 will be the 125th anniversary of Yosemite National Park.
- Seven Native American tribes descend from the Ahwahneechee – the people who first called the Yosemite area home.
- John Muir – an early advocate of wilderness preservation – once guided a flock of 2,000 sheep to the Tuolumne Meadows, then worked at a sawmill that sat alongside the Lower Yosemite Fall trail.
- In 1927, Ansel Adams shot the famous picture, “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome.” His style helped define photography as a pure art form and has inspired millions.
- The legendary Ahwahnee Hotel was used as a naval hospital for two years during WWII.
- The Yosemite Chapel, the oldest structure in Yosemite Valley, was designed by Charles Geddes.