Yosemite National Park abounds in natural beauty and opportunities for adventure and discovery in a relatively safe, welcoming environment. This makes it an ideal destination for solo female travel.
Yosemite National Park has World-Famous Scenery
Yosemite’s iconic landscapes are famous the world over – from the dizzying heights of cliffs like El Capitan to the roar of spring waterfalls or the unique façade of Half Dome rising up over Yosemite Valley. Soaking in the sweetness of that natural beauty is just as easy on your own as with a group, except that on a solo trip you don’t need to make any compromises. See the things you want to see and do the things that you want to do the most.
Yosemite Brims with Activities for the Solo Traveler
With more than 750 miles of trails, studded with scenic overlooks and natural wonders around every bend there is enough for a lifetime of exploration. Choose from popular trails with plenty of company or opt for the path less traveled for more alone time. The solo traveler will find herself with a wealth of choices to design the trip of her dreams.
At 83 years old, Carol Coyle has visited many different destinations, and often travels alone, especially now that her husband has passed. However, Yosemite is the spot that has captured her heart.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Yosemite hike that Carol hasn’t enjoyed over the years. Although she visited Yosemite often with her young family back in the 70s, hiking was often her own special activity. For her, Yosemite’s trails have provided treasured alone time, a healthy distance from her to-do list, and a way to find spiritual comfort and healing. Although it’s hard to pick a favorite, some of the trails she recommends include the Four-Mile Trail and Panorama Trail. When it’s running, you can take a bus from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point and walk back downhill to your car!
Carol also recommends the Wawona Meadow Loop as a peaceful easy trail that is located close to the vacation rental cabin that she now owns inside Yosemite in the community of Wawona.
For those looking for a little more interaction, there are plenty of opportunities for that in Yosemite too. Join a group on a free ranger-led walk to dive deep into a topic of interest. Sign up for a rock climbing lesson, guided hike, or a horseback riding tour at the Wawona Stables or Yosemite Trails in nearby Fish Camp. There are art classes for all abilities, photography walks, and so much more.
Yosemite also brims with opportunities to learn more about the park and its natural ecosystems. In addition to group activities, there are many trails like the one through the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias not far from Wawona that include interpretive signs that share the stories of these ancient and magnificent trees. Historic exhibits like the Yosemite Museum in Yosemite Valley or the Yosemite History Center in Wawona help put the park into perspective.
Where to Stay
When Carol is away, her home, Coyle’s Cabin, is managed as a vacation rental by the Redwoods In Yosemite. When Carol travels she always prefers a vacation rental. She loves having all the comforts of home, including a kitchen of her own so she can save money and prepare the foods that she enjoys most. Plus, cabins tend to be situated “closer to nature”, and she’d gladly trade a bustling lobby area for a private deck where she can easily wander outside to enjoy the sounds of nature or look up at the stars.
Carol also appreciates the fact that the Redwoods In Yosemite is based in Wawona. For a solo traveler, it’s comforting to know that the staff is just up the street if she needs anything. Because they live and work in the area, the Redwoods In Yosemite staff are also a helpful resource for current conditions and can provide an insider’s perspective on what to expect. Many repeat visitors at the Redwoods In Yosemite stop in at the front desk just to say hello and catch up on what’s new.
Safety Considerations on a Solo Trip
In addition to the reassuring presence of a local vacation rental property management staff, Carol prefers National Park destinations in general when she is traveling alone. As she puts it, there are no “bad neighborhoods” to watch out for when exploring inside a national park. So, you can feel assured that you’ll be in a neighborhood where you can feel safe.
Naturally, when traveling alone, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and be responsible for yourself. Because it’s possible to choose more traveled or less traveled destinations to explore, in Yosemite it’s easy to find just the right level of adventure for you. Still, remember to let someone know what you’re plans are, so they know when to expect you back, and can let someone know if you haven’t returned as planned.
In her many years of exploring Yosemite, Carol has never had to call on Yosemite Search and Rescue. However, just knowing that the Yosemite Search and Rescue staff and medically trained park rangers are some of the best search and rescue outfits in the nation also provides some reassurance.
With the many things for a solo/female traveler to do and discover it’s easy to see that Yosemite National Park is one of the best destinations for getting out and discovering nature safely and on your own terms.
Wind the clock back.
Travel back in your mind to a time long before paved roads and the cars that travel them; before the buildings now preserved in the Yosemite History Center were built in the early 1900s; and before Yosemite was designated as a National Park in 1890. Let’s go back to the edges of the times we know about today – to stories of people who lived here for generations, the people whose ancestors lived here when the ancient sequoias we admire today were still saplings.
Imagine a rich landscape, sparkling, clear rivers filled with sweet Sierra water, and beautiful open meadows teeming with wildlife. Does the scene make you want to stop and stay a while? It certainly seemed that way to the people that lived here then.
One name for this place was Pallachun, meaning “a good place to stop.” And it’s still a good place to linger today, to appreciate all of the quiet and beauty nearby, even though we now call it Wawona.
(The new name was given in 1882 after what is believed to be the Mono Indian name for giant sequoias – Wah Who Nau. It is thought to come from the sound of the hoot of the great horned owl that was the guardian spirit for these ancient trees.)
The Earliest Residents
Archaeological evidence suggests that people lived in the Yosemite area as long as 8000 years ago. In the old Miwuk stories, people were created by Ah-ha’le (Coyote) to have the best characteristics of the animals, and the cleverness of the coyote himself to gather and use the richness of the plants and animals there. Today, we have evidence that these earliest known residents crushed seeds on flat rocks, and hunted using spears and atlatls.
The most current understanding is that by the late 18th century, most of Yosemite was populated by the Southern Miwok people, with some Central Miwok people in the northern reaches of what is now Yosemite National Park.
However, the history of precisely which tribes and sub-tribes lived in Wawona is complex and hard to define. Currently, seven tribes are recognized as having ties to areas inside Yosemite National Park. These include the Bridgeport Indian Colony, Tuolumne Band of Me-wuk Indians, Mono Lake Kootzaduka’a, Bishop Paiute Tribe, Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, and the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, as well as the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation.
Finding Signs of Early Native Civilization Today
If you know where to look along the South Fork of the Merced River and along the Wawona Loop Trail along the edges of the meadow, you can find mortar rocks that were used to process food. Look for circular depressions in the tops of boulders, often in a place where a person preparing food would have easy access to water. These places now often provide a good view of a nearby meadow or river.
These were used like we might use a mortar and pestle now, except on a much grander scale. Each pestle weighed from 5 – 12 pounds and could be used to pound a gallon of acorns at a time. The resulting acorn flour would be sifted, and then the coarser pieces pounded again until the fine flour could be rinsed free of the bitter tannins and used to make dough.
If you look carefully, you’ll see many sizes and depths of the mortar holes. Each mortar was designed for a specific use. For example, shallow mortars were better for pounding acorns, while deeper mortars were preferred for preparing manzanita berries.
Arrowheads and Spear Tips
If you look carefully you might also spot obsidian arrowheads and spear points in Wawona and throughout the region. Be sure to leave these where you found them! These important archeological artifacts provide important information about where native people lived and traveled. Removing these artifacts erases an important piece of tribal history.
While the shafts of arrows are made from local mock orange or spicebush shoots, and the feathers came from local birds, you can’t find the obsidian needed for arrows and other tools in this area.
To get these, you would need to get them from the east side of the Sierra.
Obsidian caches found along known trade routes and other archaeological findings demonstrate that the people living in Wawona before the mid-19th century had a robust and well-established network of trade and commerce that extended from beyond the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east and all the way out to the west coast.
In fact, when Stephen Powers travels through the region in 1877, he’s struck by how easy it is to communicate. While there are, of course, many different dialects, often the root remained close enough that many people could communicate effectively. He wrote, “An Indian may start from the upper end of Yosemite and travel with the sun 150 miles… without encountering a new tongue, and on the San Joaquin make himself understood with little difficulty.”
Trade included obsidian from the eastern Sierra to sea shells from the coast, as well as finely crafted baskets with a wide range of uses. In the mid-19th century, the Miwuk were renowned for their brilliantly crafted arrows, made from local plants such as Mock Orange or Spicebush.
Disruption and Devastation in the 19th Century
It’s hard to pin precise dates on how far back the many generations of people followed the natural rhythms of the year. They followed animal migrations and harvested many plants and mushrooms as they came into season. In late summer or early fall, the people would set fires to promote the growth of plants that were useful to them and clear the ground to make gathering food easier. In the fall, they collected acorns for food and stored them in granaries called “chuckahs”. Dried meat and dried mushrooms were prepared for the long winter months. Some people would move to lower elevations for the winter, returning again in spring.
However, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, their lives changed dramatically. California’s Gold Rush of 1849 brought thousands of non-Indian miners to the region in search of gold and began to “lay claims” to pieces of land. In 1850, volunteer militias like the Mariposa Battalion were formed to “protect” the newcomers by forcing the native residents out.
Thousands of native people were killed or died of starvation following this disruption. By 1910, only 1 in 10 of the original Ahwahneeches (the people who lived in Yosemite Valley) were alive and accounted for.
Many tribes signed treaties with the new government, moving to the Fresno Indian River Reservation as agreed. But like so many similar treaties of the time, these were only honored when it was convenient. Soon enough the reservation was overgrazed by the herds of white cattle ranchers, treaties were ignored, and less than 10 years later, in 1860, the failed Fresno reservation closed. Now landless and without legal status, the people were forced to move again.
Having nowhere else to go, many of the people moved back to their traditional homelands. They resettled in Yosemite Valley, Wawona, El Portal, and other areas, and adapted to lives with the newcomers in order to survive. By the time President Lincoln was presented with the Yosemite Grant in 1864, protecting vast stretches of land as part of “America’s Best Idea”, native people were once again living year-round in places like Yosemite Valley. In addition to their traditional practices, they also worked with and for their new neighbors, including providing services to early hotels. But it still wasn’t easy.
Although archaeologists have identified over 30 different historic villages in Yosemite Valley, by the early 1930s, they had been consolidated into one “old Indian village” that was located near the site where the medical clinic is now.
To make room for the hospital, the people were relocated to the “new Indian village” (Wahoga) just west of Camp 4, which was in place from 1931 to 1969.
Unfortunately, at that point, the housing policies changed, and the residents of Wahoga were once again asked to leave, just as their ancestors had been, and their cabins were removed from the site.
Fortunately, the Wahoga area has recently been set aside again for the preservation of Indian cultural heritage. Tribal elders have envisioned a sixty-foot Hangngi’ (traditional round house) and other structures built in the old ways as much as possible, and including a community building and cultural center. You can see them under construction now in Yosemite Valley.
For more information on Native History, be sure to stop in at a local museum. The exhibits and knowledgeable staff there can bring the cultural history of indigenous people to life.
The Sierra Mono Museum and Cultural Center is worth a side trip to North Fork (about an hour from Wawona). The center is dedicated to sharing a wide variety of artifacts that have been important for the Mono tribe’s cultural history, including the largest Mono Basket collection in the state, and over 100 animal exhibits.
The Yosemite Museum in Yosemite Valley is another delightful place to get information on the cultural history of indigenous people as well as other exhibits. Talk to the Indian Cultural Demonstrators who work there, and admire the beautiful basketry on display. Behind the museum, you’ll also find a reconstructed Indian village with examples of different kinds of structures, as well as information on some of the traditional uses of local plants.
The Smithsonian Institute calls The Mariposa Museum and History Center in downtown Mariposa, CA “The Best Little Museum of its Size West of the Mississippi”. There, among stories of the gold rush and pioneer history, you’ll also find an exhibit with native plants, mortar rocks, baskets, and photographs that tell the story of local Miwuk heritage and culture.
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.