Are you thinking about visiting Yosemite National Park in September? You’re in luck! September is an ideal time to explore the park. In September, Yosemite combines the vast array of activities available during the summer months with comfortable cooler temperatures – perfect for hiking and other outdoor activities.
But what can you really expect?
Keep reading for a deep dive into everything that Yosemite has to offer, and what to expect.
Weather in September
Choose Your Own Temperatures
There isn’t just one answer to what to expect for temperatures in September in Yosemite.
Because Yosemite spans sun-soaked foothill climates at 1,800 feet (549 m) to craggy alpine summits at 13,114 feet (3,997 m), you can find a range of temperatures in the park on any given day. This allows you to choose your own temperatures by choosing activities at lower or higher elevations.
If you’re exploring Yosemite Valley or Wawona, you’ll be at around 4000 feet (1,220 m). The average high temperature for September in Yosemite Valley or Wawona is 83℉ (28℃) and the lows are 51℉ (11℃) on average.
However, if there’s a heat wave during your visit, or you prefer cooler temps, consider visiting Tuolumne Meadows. At 8,600 ft (2,622 m), the high temps average a very comfortable 65℉ (18℃) while evenings drop to a brisk 32℉ (0℃).
Looking for something in between? Try hikes along Glacier Point Road that are around 7000 ft (2,134 m)
Precipitation in September
September is still comfortably within Yosemite’s “dry season”. However, we will occasionally see some afternoon thunderstorms that tend to build over the high country in Tuolumne and can spill down into the lower elevations as well.
Because September tends to be dry, there is also a possibility of smoke and fire throughout California between late June and the beginning of the wet season – usually in mid- or late-October. It’s a price we pay for so much glorious sunshine.
Before your visit, check the interactive Current Conditions map on the NPS page. It is a terrific resource for information on weather, forecasts, webcams, and air quality in different parts of the park so you’ll have a better sense of what to expect.
What to Pack to Wear in Yosemite in September
You may have noticed that Yosemite’s temperatures fluctuate a lot between day and night. Plus, since you’ll probably want to explore several different areas within Yosemite National Park, it’s important to arrive with a variety of layers of clothing.
This layering strategy allows you to start with a puffy jacket in the morning. Pull off that jacket and enjoy long sleeves as the day starts to warm up, and then shed even that layer to be comfortable in short sleeves for mid-day.
We recommend carrying a light rain jacket too. It can double as a wind-breaker, and adds a lot of warmth for the amount of space it takes in your pack. Plus, if you are treated to an afternoon thunderstorm, you’ll be glad you have it with you.
Similarly, you might want to trade a warm wool beanie for early morning outings for a sun hat later in the day.
Hiking or trail running shoes with good traction are ideal for walking Yosemite’s sometimes-polished granite.
September is often still warm enough to enjoy a refreshing swim in one of Yosemite’s rivers or lakes. If that sounds like the perfect end to a day of hiking and exploration, be sure to grab a suit and towel too.
How Busy is Yosemite in September?
By September, Yosemite National Park feels calmer, especially mid-week. Schools are back in session, so there are fewer families traveling. There are still plenty of people visiting, but it’s like the park has taken a nice deep breath.
Weekends are busier than weekdays. If you have flexibility in your travel plans, be sure to take advantage of quieter mid-week days in Yosemite.
Yosemite National Park Service has started a text messaging service with information about when parking fills in various parts of the park. We’d recommend signing up for that a few weeks before you plan to visit so you can get an idea of what areas fill (and which do not) and at what times. That will give you a rough sense of when you should plan to arrive in different locations.
Sign up for current traffic conditions by texting YNPTRAFFIC to 333111.
Where to Stay in Yosemite in September
While Yosemite’s visitation is past-peak in September, we still recommend booking your lodging reservations early to get the best selection. Yosemite Valley lodging in particular can fill far in advance.
Check out booking a vacation rental cabin in Wawona instead. The Redwoods In Yosemite has the largest collection of cabins inside the park and plenty of filters that make finding the perfect place, and don’t forget to check out the special offers to get the best deal.
Best Hikes in Yosemite in September
September is a hiker’s paradise in Yosemite. The high country trails are open with many options for walking to an alpine lake or past soaring cliffs. Water flow has receded as the high-country snow melted away, so the waterfalls will be smaller (or gone) but you will be more likely to keep your feet dry by crossing on stones over small creeks rather than having to wade.
Mist Trail/John Muir Trail
Yosemite Valley lies at the heart of the national park, and there are many trail options ranging from short wheelchair and stroller-friendly walks through Cooks Meadow, to the steep trails that climb up from Yosemite Valley floor that provide birds-eye views.
However, with two big waterfalls that run year-round, the Mist Trail is the best, most popular, and most-scenic hike any time of year, and particularly in September. The trail is steep, but there are so many jaw-dropping destinations along the way it’s easy to customize to the hiking ability of your group. Whether you turn around at the Vernal Fall footbridge after getting that view of Vernal Fall (1.6 miles/2.6 km round-trip), the top of Vernal Fall (2.4 mi/3.9 km round trip) or make it all the way to the top of Nevada Fall (5.4 mi/ 8.7 km round trip), you’ll be in for a real treat.
Take the free shuttle in Yosemite Valley to Happy Isles (Shuttle Stop #16) or walk the extra 1.5 miles round trip from Curry Village.
Taft Point / Sentinel Dome
The trailhead for these two destinations starts at the same spot along Glacier Point Road. You can either do them one at a time or combine them into a longer loop with stunning views looking down into Yosemite Valley.
Taft Point is known for its striking fissures and the dizzying view from the guard rail down into the valley. Sentinel Dome provides an impressive 360 view of Yosemite’s high country as well as looking across at Half Dome and down into Yosemite Valley.
As separate hikes, each destination is 2.2 miles/ 3.5 km round trip with mostly rolling terrain – although the final climb to the top of Sentinel Dome is quite steep – take your time and enjoy the scenery.
As a loop, expect about 5 miles/ 8 km. The section of trail connecting the two destinations follows the valley rim and is a less-traveled treat.
As long as you’re driving out along Glacier Point Road, don’t forget to stop at Glacier Point too. It’s a particularly good destination for sunset.
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias – Grizzly Giant Loop
The Mariposa Grove is the largest of the three giant sequoia groves in Yosemite National Park and is located close to Wawona and the South Entrance Gate. A stroll among these ancient giants is always worth the time, especially if you haven’t had the chance to see a giant sequoia before.
In September, most people will park near the South Entrance and take the free shuttle bus to the Arrival Area at the Lower Grove, though you can also walk the Washburn Trail (2 miles/3.2 km) if you want to stretch your legs.
From there, the most popular hike is the Grizzly Giant Loop (2.0 mi/ 3.2 km round trip) which takes you past the Fallen Monarch, Bachelor and Three Graces, and up to the Grizzly Giant (one of the largest trees in the grove). Just past the Grizzly Giant, you can walk through a living sequoia, the California Tunnel Tree.
However, you could also simply follow the wheelchair-friendly boardwalks around the Big Trees Loop (0.3 mi/0.4 km) for a shorter walk. For more time among the giants, hike the Mariposa Grove Trail plus Guardians Loop (7 mi/ 11.3 km round trip) to take in the (quieter) Upper Grove trees as well.
Cathedral Lakes Trail
Like Yosemite Valley, it’s hard to choose just one best hike in the Tuolumne region, but the Cathedral Lakes Trail is certainly a strong candidate. On this trail, you combine the serene beauty of Lower Cathedral Lake with the striking summits of Cathedral, Echo, and Tressider Peaks rising all around. The round-trip is 7-8 mi (11.2-12.8 km) depending on whether you want to see Lower Cathedral Lake, Upper Cathedral Lake, or both of them.
What to Do in Yosemite in September
Yosemite’s hiking is spectacular, but September offers much more than just hiking. If you’re ready to give your legs a break check out some of these other options.
Come join us for the biggest Yosemite Clean Up event of the year with Yosemite Facelift!
All participants should register and you can do so here: https://www.yosemiteclimbing.org/yosemitefacelift2023
There are great prizes (including a chance to win a two night stay at The Redwoods), fun activities, and above all, one great goal of collecting as much trash as we possibly can! Event begins September 20, 2023 through September 24, 2023. Please register before September 11, 2023!!!!
Swing into the saddle for a horseback riding experience. Ride a Quarter Horse with family-owned and operated Yosemite Trails, or take a 2-hour ride along the Wawona Meadow Loop at the Wawona Stables.
Museums and the Yosemite History Center
Wawona’s Yosemite History Center takes you back in time to the era of horse-drawn wagons. A collection of historically significant buildings from around the park sheds light into a part of Yosemite’s history.
Stop by the Wawona Visitor Center at Hill’s Studio to see an exhibit of paintings by Yosemite artist Thomas Hill, and chat with friendly rangers there.
Biking is a fun way to see Yosemite Valley. Plus, mountain bikers will love the nearby trails in the Sierra National Forest.
Cast a line into one of Yosemite’s creeks, rivers or lakes. The region around Wawona is known for brookies, browns, and rainbows. The guides at Yosemite Sierra Fly Fisher have all the details.
Ride a Historic Steam Train
Get a chance to climb aboard an authentic steam train at Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. They have 1-hour tours during the day or spend a magical 3-hour evening that includes dinner, a train ride, and live music around the campfire.
Junior Ranger / Ranger Programs
Learn more about what you’re seeing in Yosemite from one of the park rangers. The Junior Ranger program is appropriate for children and appreciated by people of all ages as a way to experience the park more deeply. See the Yosemite Guide to learn what programs are happening during your stay.
Sightseeing / Wildlife Viewing in Yosemite
So much of Yosemite’s beauty can be appreciated from roadside stops. Take a scenic tour up toward Glacier Point or out along Tioga Road as well as through Yosemite Valley.
Be sure to keep your speed down and your eyes open for some of Yosemite’s magnificent wildlife as you go. If you’re lucky, you may see one of Yosemite’s black bears (they can be brown or even blonde), mule deer, bobcats, coyotes, and so many more.
It may be hard to take a bad picture in this amazing place, but if you’re interested in coming away with the best photos possible, also consider joining The Ansel Adams Gallery for one of their photography walks.
Fall foliage in Yosemite Valley and Wawona usually peaks in mid-October, but keep your eyes open for small pops of color starting in September.
Go Climb a Rock. Yosemite is world-famous for amazing rock climbing. You’ll love the unique experiences and views from high atop Yosemite’s cliffs. Yosemite Mountaineering School offers beginner classes all the way up to multi-day ascents of El Capitan, and the Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides can introduce you to climbing just south of the park.
The days are still warm enough in September to enjoy a refreshing swim in Yosemite’s rivers or lakes. Wawona is particularly known for its delightful swimming holes. You might also enjoy swimming in the Merced River in Yosemite Valley or the sandy beach at Tenaya Lake along Tioga Road.
There’s nothing quite like finding a quiet spot away from the bright lights of the city to appreciate the beauty of the night sky. In September, you might even see a shooting star. The September Epsilon Perseids (not to be confused with the August Perseids from the Swift-Tuttle comet) add an extra spark of celestial excitement to the experience.
More Things to Do in Yosemite
This is a long list, but there are even more things to do in Yosemite. It’s truly a destination with something for everyone.
See You in Yosemite in September!
It’s easy to see that September in Yosemite is an idyllic time to explore the park in more ways than one. We hope to see you soon!
When you visit Yosemite in August, you find the park at its peak season. Everything is open so you’ll find the biggest selection for shopping, dining, and activities. Families are enjoying the last bit of summer travel time before school starts again with plenty of hiking options as well as refreshing trips to local swimming holes.
Pro tip: If you can, take advantage of the lull in late August. Because schools start earlier than they used to, kids often end up back in school by the middle of the month. Meanwhile, those without children often wait until after Labor Day to plan their fall trips, leaving a quiet period at the end of August when you can enjoy summer conditions with fewer people around. In fact, starting in mid-August you will also often find better discounts on Yosemite lodging.
August Weather in Yosemite
In Yosemite, August is the warmest and sunniest month of the year. High temperatures in Wawona or Yosemite Valley are often around 89°F (32°C), but mornings and evenings are cooler, averaging a delightful 57°F (14°C), perfect for hiking or other active pursuits. And when the sun is at its highest, delightful swimming holes with refreshingly cool waters invite wading, swimming, or floating.
Another popular option is to travel to higher elevations in the summer for hiking or exploration. For example, at 8,000 feet (2,622 m), in Tuolumne Meadows, the average high temperature is only 70°F (21°C). Just be sure you bring some warm layers if you want to visit the high country early or stay late because evening temperatures average just 37°F (3°C).
The month of August also has the lowest precipitation of any month, with only 0.2 inches (4 mm) of rain on average, making beautiful cloudless blue skies the August norm. The downside of California’s warm and dry August weather is the possibility for wildfire. Fire is a natural and essential part of this region’s ecosystem, but it can lead to smoky conditions if there are large fires in the area.
Before your visit, take a peek at the interactive Current Conditions map on the NPS page. It is a terrific resource for information on weather, forecasts, webcams, and air quality in different parts of the park so you’ll know what to expect.
What Clothes to Pack for Yosemite in August
With such a big temperature range, it can be hard to decide what to pack without bringing the entire closet. The first step is to figure out where you plan to spend the most time, and then bring a variety of layers that can be added or shed depending on the day’s conditions. For example, wearing a tank top plus sun shirt plus sweater plus a puffy jacket can provide plenty of warmth for cool mornings at altitude, and you can slowly shed those layers as the day warms up. If you plan to sleep in, explore Wawona or Yosemite Valley, and then retire to your cabin for a relaxing dinner, you won’t need as many warm layers. But if you’re planning to stay up until late for astrophotography or a stargazing program, you’ll be grateful for some extra clothes.
Because the sun is so powerful in the Sierra Nevada, many people find that clothing that provides shade can be as cool or cooler than a t-shirt or tank top. Consider a wide-brimmed sun hat or a lightweight, light-colored, long sleeve sun shirt to stay cool and protect yourself from the sun’s powerful UV rays.
And don’t forget a swimming suit to take the plunge at one of Wawona’s popular swim spots.
Things to Do in Yosemite in August
You won’t lack things to do in Yosemite in August. This is the height of the summer season, so whether you’re planning to hike through the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, enjoy a horseback riding trip with Yosemite Trails, or gaze up at the starry skies with a park naturalist, you’ll find plenty of memorable activities for your visit. Here are a few highlighted suggestions to make the most of your August visit.
Hiking in August
With warmer temperatures, it’s time to think about high-elevation and shadier hikes. In Yosemite Valley, trails that face north, like the Four Mile Trail, will tend to be cooler than the Upper Yosemite Fall trail which faces south and can become a giant solar oven – amazing in January, but less welcome in August. The water in Yosemite Fall is usually minimal by this time of year anyway. The Mist Trail is a good selection because it’s in a relatively cool canyon, and the waterfalls along this trail flow year-round. The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias tends to have excellent shade from surrounding trees, so that is another good option.
Choosing hikes at higher elevations can also make a big difference in terms of temperature. Hikes along the Glacier Point Road (when it re-opens in 2023) or over in the Tuolumne Meadows area are significantly cooler than those that start at lower elevations.
An alternative strategy for finding cooler hiking conditions is to start hiking early when it is still fairly cool out and then plan more relaxed activities during the warmer part of the day. Spend the middle part of the day with a siesta in your cabin, relaxing by the water, or simply find a shady spot for a picnic. Then you can rally for more hiking as the day cools off again in the evening.
By choosing a local trail, like the one to Wawona’s Swinging Bridge, you can combine some trail time with a refreshing dip in the river.
Easily reached from the Bay Area, Fresno and Los Angeles alike, Yosemite and the surrounding area is the perfect getaway. A place to distance yourself from the crowds, from the noise, and from the city lights. Whether you’re hiking solo on a backcountry trail, or parked with the family on a turnout along one of Mariposa County’s many country roads, whether you’re using the naked eye, a pair of trusty binoculars, or that brand new telescope, the night sky seems to go on forever prompting visitors to scan the heavens, take a deep breath of fresh air and announce…wow, I’ve never seen so many stars.
In August, it is not uncommon to spot amateur astronomers setting up telescopes at Glacier Point on Saturdays. The Yosemite Conservancy offers a few Stargazing events in Yosemite Valley as well, and we highly recommend them!
When you’re ready to give your hiking boots a break, consider exploring Yosemite Valley by bicycle. There are two bike rental stands – one at Curry Village and another at Yosemite Valley Lodge – that rent cruiser bikes for commuting around the valley. Pedal Forward bikes in Oakhurst also rents mountain bikes (and bike racks) if you’re more excited about descents and single-track options in the Sierra National Forest.
Ranger-led Programs and Guided Activities
Rangers and other guides offer many opportunities to learn about Yosemite from local experts. There is everything from art classes, to astronomy programs, rock climbing lessons, train rides, horseback riding and so much more.
Connect with Yosemite’s History
The Yosemite History Center, located right in Wawona, offers a tour of significant historic structures in Yosemite. These buildings tell the story of settlers, artists, and laborers that have helped make Yosemite what it is now.
Chat with Yosemite rangers, and peek into the studio of a locally famous 19th-century artist at the Thomas Hill studio. This small building close to Wawona Hotel is now part visitor center and part free museum.
Hop aboard a historic steam train at Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad and then pan for gold, and visit their museum.
The Yosemite Museum in Yosemite Valley is another wonderful history-filled stop. Displays illustrate the cultural history of the Miwok and Paiute people from 1850 until now. Discover what they used to eat, see demonstrations of basket weaving, beadwork, and learn about traditional games. Be sure to wander through a reconstructed village behind the museum to see some of the plants that they used, and the buildings they used to live in.
Staying at the Redwoods In Yosemite in August
When you’re planning your August trip, be sure to consider getting a vacation rental cabin reservation in Wawona with The Redwoods In Yosemite. Wawona’s location inside the park gates makes it easy to explore the park. And the convenient filters on the Redwoods In Yosemite site make it easy to find just the home you’re looking for, plus you’ll save money by booking direct.
There’s an incredible adventure waiting for you in Yosemite during the month of June. With a fantastic Mediterranean climate, you can expect brilliant sun-filled days surrounded by sparkling waterfalls, gleaming white granite cliffs, and jaw-dropping scenery to delight the whole family.
Is June a good time to visit Yosemite?
As the weather warms, the park slowly unfurls like a flower in the spring, presenting more places to go and things to see. Spring wildflower blooms have moved up from the lower foothills into Yosemite Valley and higher. The waterfalls are thundering and the birds are singing. In fact, the biggest downside to visiting Yosemite in June is all the other people who have also realized how delightful it is during this season.
Let’s get into specifics.
What is the weather like in June in Yosemite?
The days in Yosemite Valley have really started to warm up by June. The average temperature there is 81°F (27°C) with still cool low temps averaging 51°F (11°C). For most people that’s short-sleeve shirt weather during the day, but in the evenings you’ll still be glad for an extra warm layer.
However, this is the mountains, so if you prefer cooler temperatures, seek out higher-elevation destinations. 4,600 feet (1,402 m) above Yosemite Valley, in Tuolumne Meadows, the average high temperature is still only 65°F (18°C), and with night-time lows averaging just 39°F (4°C), you’ll find yourself suddenly in puffy jacket weather. Temperatures in the Crane Flat and Glacier Point areas will fall somewhere in between.
Thanks to the Mediterranean climate in Yosemite, you’ll also be glad to discover that June has settled comfortably into the warm dry season. You’ll be lucky to see a cloud grace the bright sun-filled skies.
Just before your visit, visit the interactive Current Conditions map on the NPS page. It is a terrific resource for information on weather, forecasts, webcams, and water flow in different parts of the park so you’ll know what to expect.
What does that mean for packing?
Lightweight – Mediumweight Layers: Summer has arrived in Yosemite, so be sure to pack plenty of light layers, but morning and evening temperatures can still be in the low 50s (11-ish °C) or cooler depending on the elevation, so some long pants and sweaters or light jackets can help make an early start or a late evening on the trail much more comfortable.
Hiking shoes (or boots): If you plan to do a lot of hiking during your visit, something with a little extra traction can make a big difference when hiking across rocky, wet, or slippery trails.
Extra socks: If you aren’t renting a cabin with a handy washer and dryer consider bringing extra socks. When it’s dry, the amount of trail dust that can work its way into your socks while you’re exploring is astonishing. Plus, if there is a lot of water on the trails, an extra pair of lightweight wool hiking socks helps keep your feet happy over the long run.
Sun protection: There are so many amazing things to do out here in the sunshine, that it can be easy to over-do it on the sun exposure. A wide-brimmed sun hat can do wonders to keep you cool and reduce the amount of sunscreen you’ll need to put on your face. Outdoor athletes who spend a lot of time outside often choose loose light-weight sun shirts or sun hoodies to protect their arms and shoulders too.
If you have room in your pack, here are a few other ideas for things you might want to bring to Yosemite.
- A camera with a zoom lens – Phones are great, but there is nothing like a nice zoom lens to bring distant mountain scenery up close.
- Comfortable hiking sandals – it’s pure luxury to trade out hiking shoes/boots at the end of the day for lighter footwear.
- Collapsible hiking poles – they are an extra thing to carry in your hands, but a pair of hiking poles help you power the uphills, save your knees on the downhills, and provide some extra balance for rock hopping across puddles. In high-snow fall years, they also provide extra traction if you do end up on snowy trails.
Yosemite Activities Close to Wawona
With the full array of park activities open or opening in June at your disposal, let’s focus for a moment on a few that are close to vacation rental cabins in Wawona.
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Along Yosemite’s southern border, and about 15 minutes from The Redwoods In Yosemite, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is the largest and most spectacular of Yosemite’s three sequoia groves. The grove is open year-round for hikers, skiers, and snowshoers. However, in the summer, a convenient shuttle bus service can whisk you past the first 2 miles (3.2 km) of the walk, and drop you off at the lower grove. The shuttle service usually starts mid-June sometime depending on the conditions.
Once in the lower grove, wheelchair (and stroller)-friendly boardwalks make it easy to explore the most massive trees in the world. For the more adventurous, trails reveal more trees, connect the lower and upper groves, and extend out to Wawona Point for an airy mountain view that overlooks the town of Wawona.
Chilnualna Falls Trail
The Chilnualna Falls Trail starts in Wawona and wanders up past several waterfalls and cascades for a convenient and less-crowded waterfall hike close to home. Make the lower section part of an after-dinner stroll or challenge yourself to hike the full 8.4 miles (13.5 km) while climbing more than 2000 feet in elevation over the course of a longer day.
Swinging Bridge in Wawona
Bounce your way across Yosemite’s swinging bridge that actually still swings. Unlike its Yosemite Valley counterpart, Wawona’s Swinging Bridge still bobs gently with each step as you cross the South Fork of the Merced River. At less than a mile round-trip, and relatively flat, this is a great way to stretch your legs after you arrive in Wawona. It’s also a quiet scenic spot to enjoy a casual picnic lunch by the water.
Wawona Meadow Loop
Find peace, solitude, and wide variety of wildflowers (in season) along the Wawona Meadow Loop. Located just across Highway 41 from The Redwoods In Yosemite, this unassuming trail is perfect for a quick morning run. It’s also one of Yosemite’s dog-friendly and bike-friendly trails.
Step into the past at the Yosemite History Center
The cluster of historic buildings at the Yosemite History Center is worth a visit. These picturesque buildings tell stories of how people have lived in the park in the past. Wander through and imagine yourself visiting Yosemite in the mid-1900s. You can read about the significance of each building in the interpretive plaque outside, or if you’re lucky you might find a friendly living history demonstrator who can share those stories with you in person.
Get the family out for some western-style fun while going horseback riding during your Yosemite visit.
The team at Yosemite Trails is the real deal when it comes to the western cowhand experience. This local family-owned and operated business raises their own quarter horses, and has a working cattle ranch. They are located roughly 25 minutes from Wawona in Fish Camp.
You can’t beat the Wawaona Stables for convenience. They are located right in the town of Wawona and are open for 2-hour and half-day rides.
Climb aboard a Steam Train
Take a scenic train ride aboard a historic steam train at The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. Just 23 minutes from Wawona you can climb aboard a steam train. Take a 1-hour ride and enjoy the museum while panning for gold, or enjoy a 3-hour evening tour that includes dinner and live music around the campfire too.
What Can I See/Do in June in Yosemite in General?
By June most hiking trails in Yosemite will be open for exploration – though you may still find snow-covered trails in the highest elevation areas of the park. People of all ages will enjoy walks in Cooks Meadow, Chapel Meadow, or out to the bridge at the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. The trail to Mirror Lake/Meadow is likely to still have water and can be a good place to wade into the water and stay cool depending on the conditions.
The famous Mist Trail is a favorite for a wide array of hikers. Boasting magnificent viewpoints all along the trail, it’s easy to customize a day on the Mist Trail to whatever the group feels up to on any given day. (Note: the steep steps leading to the tops of Vernal or Nevada can be especially challenging for younger/smaller hikers.)
Of the Yosemite Valley Trails, the Four-Mile Trail can be one of the last to open due to a shady stretch that avalanches and creates a hazardous section on the trail that can take a long time to melt out. Although it can open as early as April, in some years it has remained closed until mid-June.
In a typical year, Glacier Point Road will also be open by June, meaning that in addition to visiting the famous overlook of the same name, hiking trails like Sentinel Dome or Taft Point beckon to hikers looking for a more rolling hike to a spectacular spot.
The Half Dome cables also typically get installed sometime in June depending on the conditions. That bucket-list hike requires a permit, but you can enjoy views of Half Dome from dozens of locations in the park.
Will Tioga Road be Open in June?
The opening of Tioga Road dramatically expands the number of activities in Yosemite – from new places to hike, fish, or rock climb – as well as allowing easy access from Yosemite Valley to Lee Vining and all points east. So, each year in spring, guessing when Tioga Road will open becomes the question of the hour.
The answer: The road has opened as early as early May, and as late as early July depending on the snow conditions from the previous winter. Nobody knows what the date will be for sure, but there are great resources to help you guess.
The National Park Service shares plowing updates and a list of historical opening (and closing) dates. The roads open earlier during dry winters, and later when we’ve had a lot of snowfall during the winter months. Scroll through the list and look for years with an April 1 snowpack that is similar to the current year, to give you a rough idea of what to expect.
Rock climbing combines incredible perspectives from high up Yosemite’s cliffs with a thrilling and challenging activity in a destination that is widely considered to be one of the great centers of climbing worldwide. Take a lesson, or hire a private guide to quest up Yosemite’s granite cliffs on a custom excursion.
In June, biking is often one of the best ways to see Yosemite Valley. Arrive in Yosemite Valley early, park the car and then use your bike to explore at your own pace, without having to worry about finding parking for the rest of the day.
From Wawona, you’ll also find excellent mountain biking nearby in the Sierra National Forest. Stop by Pedal Forward in Oakhurst for the inside scoop on local trails.
Sitting down and taking the time to draw or paint a landscape immerses you in the place like no other activity. Bring your own supplies for spontaneous art making, or join an artist for demonstrations and guidance at a Yosemite Conservancy Art Program.
Allow a Yosemite National Park Ranger to open your eyes to the stories and connections that will surround you while in Yosemite. Young people (and the young at heart) love Junior Ranger activities. Pick up a Junior Ranger Guide at the Visitor Center, or download a copy here (4.8 MB) and check the Yosemite Guide for ranger programs in various parts of the park.
The list of interesting, fun, and eye-opening activities that you might try in Yosemite in June goes on and on – from fishing, to rafting, to or simply reading a book on the deck of your Wawona vacation rental and listening to the birds singing in the trees.
Where to Stay in Yosemite in June.
Naturally, we are biased, but we are hard-pressed to come up with a better option for Yosemite lodging than a Yosemite vacation cabin rental with the Redwoods In Yosemite.
With cabins exclusively located inside the park, you’ll be close to so much of what makes Yosemite special. Spend less time commuting and more time enjoying nature.
Plus, vacation rentals have all the comforts of home, including space to spread out, relax and talk after putting the kids to bed, and save money by packing your own lunches or eating in when you want to.
Tips to Avoid June Busy-ness in Yosemite
Starting in June, you’re definitely hit Yosemite’s peak visitation season – and with good reason. There’s so much to do, with what seems like more opening almost daily. The weather settles into a pattern of nearly perfect, and as schools begin to let out, the park fills with excited nature-loving souls who are answering the call of the mountains.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid the crowds:
- Get started early. Yes, it’s vacation, but if you’d like to have a popular trail mostly to yourself, all you need to do is wake up a little bit earlier than the next group.
- Spend a day close to Wawona, or explore a lesser-known area on the days you’d like to sleep in or enjoy a relaxing morning. There’s so much to do in the area, that you don’t have to rush off every day to have a rewarding and restful vacation.
- Starting your day inside the park puts you in the pole position for the best start to a visit to Yosemite.
Are you getting ready for an epic adventure in one of America’s most iconic national parks? Yosemite is the land of soaring waterfalls and towering granite cliffs, and Yosemite puts on a real show for April visitors.
Spring has sprung, and this season of rebirth is the perfect time to explore the breathtaking scenery of Yosemite National Park. Grab your hiking boots, pack your camera, and prepare to be amazed by the beauty of this natural wonderland.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through all the must-see sights, best hiking trails, and hidden gems that Yosemite has to offer during the month of April. Plus, we’ll share some insider tips on how to make the most of your trip, including where to stay, what to pack, and what to expect.
So, whether you’re a seasoned hiker, a nature lover, or simply seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, Yosemite in April is the perfect destination for you. Let’s dive in and discover all the magic this incredible park has to offer!
The biggest reasons to visit Yosemite in April
As the days get warmer and longer, the snow in the high country starts to melt. It flows down through small gullies and large granite basins, and then tumbles over Yosemite’s great cliffs in exuberant, rushing waterfalls. April is a remarkable time for waterfall watchers in Yosemite.
April is still a relatively quiet month in Yosemite National Park, especially if you can manage to visit during the week days. This means more of Yosemite just for you! With fewer visitors to the park, you’ll also still be able to find some excellent deals on lodging.
Starting in April, the wildflowers in Yosemite Valley and Wawona begin to appear. The Wawona Meadow Loop is an excellent place to go looking for a wide variety of these blossoms, and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see the expansive blooms of lupine covering the meadows and roadsides with purple.
April weather in Yosemite
April likes to do its own thing when it comes to weather. And every April is a little different.
In an average April, the weather is shifting from the cool crisp days of winter into a more summer-like weather pattern. The average high temperatures in Yosemite Valley are a comfortable 63°F/17°C, while the average low temperature drops to 38°F/3°C. That means most people will want long pants and warmer layers for the morning and evening that you can shed when you’re in the sun mid-day.
The average precipitation in Yosemite Valley in April is 3.2 inches/81 mm. That puts us nicely halfway between the 7.0 inches/177 mm of precipitation in an average January and the negligible 0.2 in/4mm that you can expect in an average August. In real terms this means that there are a lot of beautiful sunny days in April, but it might still rain or snow occasionally. It just depends.
Of course, when you ascend or descend in the mountains, especially during these transitional spring months, you can choose your own season. Temperatures for El Portal, a small town just downhill of Yosemite Valley along Highway 140 has an average high of 72°F/22°C for the month, while in the high country of Tuolumne Meadows, it’s still a chilly average high of 45°F/7°C.
The bottom line on April weather in Yosemite is to come prepared for all kinds of weather. Dress in layers so that you can put on an extra sweater or jacket for mornings or cooler days, and then shed those layers for mid-day or warmer days.
A rain coat is a good idea. Even on sunny days, the misty blast from Yosemite’s waterfalls can be more comfortable with a good rain jacket.
Waterproof shoes or hiking boots can also be a nice-to-have if you’re planning on hiking. As the snow melts you’ll find water everywhere – running in rivulets down the trail or standing in wide puddles. If you don’t have waterproof footwear, extra socks can help keep your feet warm and dry. Or you can try adding plastic bags over your socks but inside your shoes. Your feet will sweat a lot, but they will stay warmer overall.
Finally, just before your visit, make sure you take a peek at the interactive Current Conditions map on the NPS page. It is a terrific resource for information on weather, forecasts, webcams, and water flow in different parts of the park so you’ll know what to expect.
Road Conditions and Chain Controls
A quick side note before we get to the fun stuff:
While storms grow increasingly rare in April in Yosemite, there is still a chance of snow during this month, and if that happens to overlap with your planned trip, you’ll be happy to have tire chains in your vehicle to help with traction on Yosemite’s mountain roads. Higher-elevation roads are more likely to have chain requirements, but they can be in place on any park road.
Keep your eye on the weather forecast for Yosemite in the days/week before your trip. You might want to adjust your layering systems, and see if you’re likely to need chains for your car. If there is a storm in the forecast, be sure to read up on our guide to chain requirements in Yosemite.
The Tioga Road that crosses the Sierra Nevada through Tuolumne Meadows, and the Glacier Point Road which connects Highway 41 to Glacier Point, are usually still closed due to snow in April. This is the tradeoff you make for rushing waterfalls. That high-elevation snowpack is what is turning into roaring waterfalls down low. It’s also another good reason to plan multiple trips to Yosemite during different times of the year.
Right before your trip, the best way to learn about road conditions inside Yosemite National Park is to call the road conditions hotline at 209-372-0200 (press 1 and 1 again to listen to the recording).
What to do in Yosemite in April
Lower elevation areas like Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy or Wawona and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias are all excellent places to visit during the month of April with relatively easy accessibility. These locations provide the best of the aforementioned waterfall wandering, mountain meandering, and fun flower viewing opportunities.
Yosemite Valley holds many of the park’s most notorious waterfalls, and after a warm day in April, you’ll find them all flowing fast and free. You don’t even have to leave your car (though we recommend that you do) to see Bridalveil Fall or Yosemite Falls.
In April, you will probably also be treated to the elegant cascades of Sentinel Fall or the tallest single drop waterfall in the park, Ribbon Fall. Parts of the Mist Trail and the John Muir are often closed in winter, but you can hike the Winter Route to see both Vernal and Nevada Fall using the parts of both trails that remain open.
Don’t forget to visit Wawona’s waterfall while you’re here as well. The Chilnualna Fall trail starts just a few minutes from the Redwoods In Yosemite cabins, and leads up past a series of gorgeous waterfalls and cascades.
Tips for exploring snow-covered trails: Traction devices like Stabilicers or Yak-Tracks can help with footing on packed out snow on popular trails, and don’t underestimate the utility of a pair of hiking poles. The snow will be more firm (and slippery) early in the morning and late in the evening when the temperatures are cooler, and will soften during the day. That means that you may be able to walk on top of the snow in the morning, but will sink through as the day goes on, making travel more difficult.
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequioas
There are over 500 giant sequoia trees in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Estimated to be thousands of years old, each is a testament to longevity and endurance. An ancient wisdom permeates the entire grove.
To get there, park at the large parking area near the south entrance gate to Yosemite National Park. If the winter has been relatively warm and dry, there could be a free shuttle service to the Arrival Area at the lower grove. If not, you can walk the Washburn Trail that starts at the far end of the parking area, or stroll up the road to get to the lower Mariposa Grove. It’s about 2 miles each way. This is more effort, but also means that you’ll have the grove more to yourself when you get there.
Beyond that you have a selection of trails to explore. Most people try to take in the Grizzly Giant Loop (2.0 miles/3.2 km) which includes named trees like the Fallen Monarch, the Bachelor and Three Graces, the Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel Tree, but there are shorter and longer options available.
Stopping to Smell the Flowers
Each spring a wave of wildflower blossoms start in the central valley and slowly makes its way up into the mountains. By April, the fields of orange poppies have often passed their peak, and are now giving way to great swaths of purple lupines that line the roads through Wawona. The keen-eyed will also marvel at the variety of wildflowers to be found along the Wawona Meadow Loop, and scattered throughout the forest at that elevation.
Our Furred and feathered friends
As spring’s warmth spreads, you’ll also find more birds and other wildlife filling Yosemite’s landscape too. Bears awaken from a winter’s rest and begin to frequent Yosemite’s meadows looking for food. Peregrine Falcons, still listed on California’s endangered species list return to their nests and begin preparing for the next generation.
As soon as the weather warms, rock climbers return to Yosemite’s clean granite cliffs. In addition to spotting them on bold ascents of El Capitan, keep your eyes open at smaller crags as well, like the rock wall at the back of the Churchbowl Picnic area.
If you, or someone in your group, would like to try climbing Yosemite’s famous rock walls, the Yosemite Mountaineering School has a variety of classes and guided climbs to introduce climbers and would-be climbers to the area.
Don’t forget the simple pleasures too
There are also plenty of small pleasures that you can expect when taking a relaxing vacation in the mountains. Curl up in front of a roaring fire with a good book and good company. Slip out to the hot tub, or relax in the Jacuzzi. Get entirely too caught up in a board game with friends. Or hold a debate about what kind of animal might have left that strange track you found in the snow. Ultimately, these quiet activities and small moments of discovery can be among the most rejuvenating and precious.
Where to Stay
There are many accommodation options inside Yosemite National Park, from camping to the historic luxury. However, the best option for a place to stay in April has to be a rental cabin in Wawona. Yes, of course we’re biased, but hear us out.
Naturally, it’s nice to stay inside Yosemite National Park. You’re closer to all that the park has to offer, and you can spend more of your vacation being here instead of getting here.
Unlike a hotel room, a vacation rental cabin has more of the conveniences of home. You can save money by bringing groceries with you and preparing the food you enjoy. There’s room to spread out and relax. Private homes are… well, more private. No need to worry about the noise coming from the room next door. And if the stray April storm does blow through during your visit, some homes even give you access to laundry facilities. A dryer can come in handy to dry everyone out at the end of a day of exploration. Plus, if you have fur family you can rent a vacation cabin that is pet-friendly, and bring your pup with you.
With some services, it can be hard to tell if the rental cabin that you’re looking at is inside the park or not. With The Redwoods In Yosemite, you know that you’ll be located in Wawona, close to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, and inside the park gate. Plus, The Redwoods In Yosemite makes it easy to find a place that is the perfect fit for you, with convenient filters for amenities like EV chargers, or a fireplace.
The Grizzly Giant is the most renowned giant sequoia in Yosemite National Park. Standing at a solid 209 feet (63.7 m) it is the second largest tree in the Yosemite, and one of the most photographed. You’ll need to take a panorama to capture that in one image!
We can’t know for certain how old this tree is until we are able to count the annual rings in the wood – something we can’t do now without harming the tree. However, based on its diameter in comparison with other trees, researchers estimate that it could be around 2000 to 3000 years old. That’s long enough for this gentle giant to have a story or two to tell.
Ready to visit? Check out these must-know facts about this wonder before you get to meet in person!
The Grizzly Giant Ranked the 26th Largest Tree In the World!
In the world of trees, Giant Sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) live up to their name. They are the largest trees in the world by volume. The Grizzly Giant, when measured in 1990, was 34,005 cubic feet (962.9 m3) in volume and roughly 2 million pounds in weight. That’s as heavy as a tower of 145 elephants standing on top of each other.
Even the branches of this mighty tree are noteworthy in their own right. The largest branch growing about 95 feet overhead is more than 6 feet (2 m) in diameter. If it were an independent tree growing out of the ground, just this branch would be much larger than many other non-sequoia trees. However, in context of the massive main trunk, it hardly attracts any notice.
Does that make you feel like a tiny pine cone in comparison? Consider that these massive trees all start their life as a small seed about the size of a flake of oatmeal.
These trees have done a lot of growing already, and unlike us humans, sequoias continue to grow larger with age. Expect generations ahead of us to be even more in awe.
Snag a Front Row Seat for a Sequoia’s Hardiness
As the Grizzly Giant aged, a snag formed at the top – those dead stems at the top of the tree. This is a feature that many mature giant sequoias share.
What causes those snags?
In its life, likely spanning thousands of years, the Grizzly Giant weathered many hardships that might have been the end of lesser trees. It has likely been hit by lightning more than a few times, and withstood droughts as well as both wind and snow storms.
It’s thick, spongy bark is estimated to be about 2 feet (0.6 m) thick. The tree is filled with tannic acid which increases its resistance to threats from fungus, insects and fire. Still, if you look at the base of the tree, you will notice charred hollows, fire scars that are probably hundreds of years old. The Grizzly Giant survived these lightning fires – a good thing since fires are an essential part of the Sequoia lifecycle. However, fire scars interrupt the flow of water from the roots to the tree tops. When this happens the top of the sequoia dies back to reduce the water requirement, producing a snag top. A new branch can take over as the leader, only to die back again when another fire comes through, or during an extensive drought.
For a giant sequoia, the presence of a snag in the top is a proud banner of its ability to endure across millennia.
The Grizzly Giant Gets A Little Help From Its Friends
As long-lived as giant sequoias are, they couldn’t do it without help from their neighbors. If you walk all the way around the Grizzly Giant, you’ll notice that it has a pronounced lean. The trunk lists almost 5 degrees to the south and 1.5 degrees to the west. Even with the 96.5-foot (29.5 m) circumference at ground level, that puts the roughly 2 million pounds (907 metric tons) of weight decidedly off center.
It looks so precarious that in 1904 supporting cables were proposed to help the Grizzly Giant remain standing. Though the cables were never installed, they have so far been unnecessary.
Do sequoia trees have a secret power that helps keep them upright?
Sequoia root systems don’t plunge deep into the ground with a tap root – instead they reach out to the side, remaining close to the surface. You can see this shallow root system in toppled trees like The Fallen Monarch. As the roots grow out to the side, they interlace with the roots of their neighbors so the trees can help hold each other up.
This shallow root system appears to be one key to the Grizzly Giant’s longevity. It’s also the reason that walking around the base of the tree and compressing the soil around these fragile roots can be so harmful to these ancient trees.
The Coolest Kid in the Grove
The Grizzly Giant Loop is one of the most popular trails in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. By now, you can probably see why. Who wouldn’t want to meet the Grizzly Giant in person?
The numbers and photos can’t do justice to this rare and ancient tree. You have to see it in person, tilting your head back – way back – to look into its massive branches, and contemplate all that it has seen in its lifetime.
The Mariposa Grove is home to more than 500 mature sequoias. Named after the county that it’s in, Mariposa, the Mariposa Grove was first visited by non-natives in the 1850s. Over the next few years, the Grizzly Giant would become a poster-child for this magnificent area, posing with such notables as Yosemite’s first guardian, Galen Clark, as well as President Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir. These famous photos were sent back east and became viral in their own way, helping to make a case for preserving this grove of trees for us to enjoy today.
If the Grizzly Giant were the only giant sequoia in the grove, it would be worth visiting, but luckily for you, it is surrounded by other notable giants that you’ll want to stop and greet along the way. Say hello to the Bachelor and Three Graces, and elegant grouping of giants that you’ll pass on the way. And don’t forget to continue a short distance beyond the Grizzly Giant to walk through the still-living California Tunnel Tree.
If you make it even further up the trail, you’ll encounter even more tree-mendous characters. The Faithful Couple Tree is united into a single trunk at the base, though overhead you can see that it is two sequoias that have grown together over time. Also keep your eyes open for the Clothespin Tree, the Telescope Tree and many many more.
Stay Nearby at The Redwoods In Yosemite
One of the best places to stay to explore the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and see the Grizzly Giant is in a private vacation home in Wawona. Be sure to explore the biggest selection of vacation cabins offered by The Redwoods In Yosemite.
Relaxing and private, these fully-equipped rental cabins are conveniently located in the charming community of Wawona. There are many things to do in Wawona itself. Plus, your cabin is inside the park gates, making it easy to explore other parts of Yosemite, as well as the Mariposa Grove.
Many cabins are pet-friendly, some feature spa tubs and all have private decks with BBQ’s and upgraded linens for that ‘home away from home’ experience.
If you’re planning a trip for a group, be sure to also check into the convenient Event Center for a centrally-located place to gather. The Event Center includes the use of the Fireside Room and the large adjacent deck, along with access to state of the art audio and visual equipment and a catering kitchen.