Written By Christina Kantzavelos
There is still time! November is a grand time to visit Yosemite National Park. Crisp mornings and cool evenings, sunny days, chromatic views, and the chance of first snow all paint your next perfect travel picture. It is the least crowded time to visit the park, which means quieter and more intimate outdoor adventures. Plus, you can catch a last glimpse of Glacier Point, Tuolumne Meadows and Mariposa Grove before they close for the season. We’ve come up with eight reasons your visit to Yosemite should be in the few remaining weeks of November. And remember to pack layers and tire chains, just in case!
1. Explore Tuolumne Meadows (before they close for the snow season!)
Take advantage of having access to Tuolumne Meadows/Tioga Roads before they close for the snow season. The fall really transforms each of these majestic locations into chromatic wonderlands. Plus, you get to enjoy their beautiful hikes and views in serene solitude, as neither will be as busy as in the summer.
2. Celebrate Thanksgiving in the Park
Enjoy creating a wonderful memory by hosting a Thanksgiving feast in the comfort of your cabin, surrounded by your family, and friends. Not in the mood to cook? Here are three wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner options in the park. Be sure to make a reservation!
3. Visit the Grizzly Giant in Mariposa Grove
If you haven’t visited the newly restored Mariposa Grove, then you’re in for a treat. Hike its beautiful (and partially ADA compatible) trails before it closes for the snow season. Grizzly Giant has never looked more majestic with its colorful leaves!
4. Bike in the Valley
Explore the valley via bicycle, and enjoy the crisp air, colorful leaves, and beautiful views as you bike by or stop to visit the less-crowded Yosemite valley staples.
5. Explore the Museums in the Park
Don’t let November rains scare you! Is it too rainy or snowy to go exploring? Or, are you looking for a relaxing stroll? Then visit the Yosemite Museum in the valley, or walk through the Ansel Adams Gallery, which displays his work as well as other contemporary photographers and artists. If you’re in Wawona, be sure to visit the Pioneer or History Center, which explains the history of Yosemite National Park and how it inspired the growth of national parks across the county and the world.
6. S’mores and BBQs!
Is there a more delicious food group? Gather around the fire, and enjoy roasting juicy fillets and gooey s’mores with your friends and loved ones.
7. Pet Friendly Yosemite Trails to Hike and Enjoy
Take your pup on the Chowchilla Mountain road (the original road to Yosemite), or Wawona Meadow Loop Trail in Wawona. Or, you and your canine can explore Bridalveil Fall trail, Hodgdon Meadow, Glacier Point, Cook’s Meadow Loop, or even Lower Yosemite Falls. You can also bring along your fur-baby on the Mirror Lake Trail, or take the perfect holiday card photo with them in front of Tunnel View. For both you and your pet’s safety, they are not allowed in the meadows, back country, in public buildings, or on shuttle buses. Looking for a pet friendly cabin? We have you covered!
8. Cozy Fireplaces and Hot Tubs
Snuggle up with a mug of delicious steaming cocoa next to the fireplace in your cabin. Or relax with a soothing cup of hot tea next in your hot tub. Not much compares to spending quality time in your cozy cabin, or hot tub, especially when it’s snowing or raining outside.
Looking for a cabin to get cozy in for November?
Our 120 Redwoods In Yosemite cabins are located in Wawona, at the Southern entrance of Yosemite, just a few miles from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Relaxing and private, these fully equipped vacation cabins border the wild and scenic South Fork of The Merced River, the Wawona swinging bridge and Chilnualna Falls (the second highest vertical drop waterfalls in Yosemite)! Our Event Center includes full use of the Fireside Room and adjacent deck, with audio and visual equipment and a catering kitchen. Many of our 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. Relax, explore, escape!
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.
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.
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.
Spring in Yosemite, what it is like?
The snow has melted in nearly all of the lower elevation places, the rivers and streams are rushing, the baby animals are strolling, the flowers are in full bloom, and the mountains are calling. What better way to see the natural beauty of Yosemite than by taking a hike during this exciting time? Whether you are looking for a short and sweet hike through the meadow, along the river, or crave a more strenuous hike to visit a raging waterfall, Wawona has you covered.
- Wawona Swinging Bridge Trail
The Wawona Swinging Bridge Trail is a short and mostly flat .75 miles (1.2. km) round-trip hike to the swinging bridge which takes you across the scenic and wild South Fork of the Merced River. It’s beautiful, serene, and the bridge does truly swing. In addition to enjoying the wildflowers, in summer, you can also swim in the river down below, which is not nearly as busy as other water holes and beach spots in Yosemite Valley for example. While you’re in the area, don’t forget to also check out the Pioneer History Center for fun Yosemite history.
- Wawona Meadow Loop
The Wawona Meadow Loop is a relatively flat 3.5 (5.6 km) loop trail that starts at the Big Trees Lodge. Formerly known as the Wawona Hotel, this is one of California’s oldest hotels that has been operating since 1879. This is the only bike and leashed pet-friendly trail in the area, so bring Fido along. It’s also home to various wildflower species, and now is the perfect time to see them!
- Chilnualna Falls
This is a strenuous 8.2 mile (13.1 km) hike, with an elevation gain of 2,400 feet (732 m) that leads you to one of the tallest waterfalls in the park via a series of switchbacks. It begins two miles from the Chilnualna Falls Road, in the Chilnualna Falls parking area. This hike is made up of three cascades, including some smaller ones at the bottom. It’s not heavily trafficked, so you will likely get most of it to yourself. You get bonus points in the summer for dipping in some of the secluded swim holes along this trail.
4. Mariposa Grove Hikes
Mariposa Grove has finally opened for the season! This area is home to wonderful trails winding through some of the world’s oldest trees, including the 1,800-year-old Grizzly Giant. Keep in mind that visitors must park in the south entrance, which is two miles away from the grove. The shuttle busses pick up visitors every 10-20 minutes. Visitors with disability placards can drive to the Grizzly Giant parking area rather than take the shuttle in. Here are a few great hikes within Mariposa Grove:
- Big Trees Loop
This is a very short and easy 0.3 miles (0.4 km) loop trail, that is wheelchair accessible, leading you to the Fallen Monarch tree.
- Grizzly Giant Loop
This is a 2 mile (3.2 km) mile loop trail that’s rated as moderate, with a 300 (91m) elevation gain. In addition to the Grizzly, you will pass other famous trees in the lower grove like the Fallen Monarch, Bachelor, Three Graces, and the California Tunnel Tree.
- Guardians Loop Trail
This is a 6.5 mile (10.5 km) strenuous loop trail, with an elevation gain of 1000 ft (305 m). In addition to passing by Grizzly Giant Loop trees, the trail passes by some notable spots in the upper grove like the Telescope Tree, the fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree and the Mariposa Grove Cabin.
- Mariposa Grove Trail to Wawona Point
This is another somewhat strenuous hike that’s 7.0 miles (11.3 km) in total, with an elevation gain of 1,200 feet (366 m). In addition to the Grizzly Giant Loop trees, you pass by portions of the upper grove, including famous sequoias like Three Graces, the Gaintful Coupole, the Bachelor and the Clothespin Tree. This also leads you to the historic Wawona Point (6,800 ft.) that has a beautiful overlook with a panoramic view.
Looking for a cabin near the hikes? Check out our Current Specials!
All of our 120 Redwoods In Yosemite cabins are located in historic Wawona, near the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park, just a few miles from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Relaxing and private, these fully equipped vacation homes border the wild and scenic South Fork of The Merced River, the Wawona swinging bridge and Chilnualna Falls (the second highest vertical drop waterfalls in Yosemite)! Our Event Center includes full use of the Fireside Room and adjacent deck, with audio and visual equipment and a catering kitchen. Many of our 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. Come on up! Relax. Explore. Escape!
Text credit: Christina Kantzavelos, BuenQamino
Yosemite National Park brings in over four million visitors each year! Since 4 million yearly fans can’t be wrong, there are many reasons to want to visit Yosemite, and plenty of reasons to stay within the park boundaries during your next visit. During peak season, we expect large crowds, heaps of cars, traffic delays (sometimes 1-2 hours), busy attractions, and limited parking and lodging. Here are five reasons why staying in Wawona will allow you to spend less time in your car, and more time enjoying what this great park has to offer…
Avoid the Morning Wait at the Southern Entrance.
Waiting for any attraction is as certain as taxes, and the wait for the entrance to Yosemite can begin up to two miles before you reach the Southern Gate, or other entrances too. After finally driving up to the entrance, why would you want to squander extra waiting in your car? If you’re already in the park, the morning wait is one less thing to worry about, so you can spend your precious vacation time wisely.
How To Spend Less Time Spent Driving in the Valley
If you’re staying closer to Yosemite Valley (in the heart of the park), you have easier access to the park’s free shuttle. Once in the valley, we strongly encourage you to take the free bus rides or book a valley tram tour for example. The shuttle runs from 7 AM – 10 PM daily, and provides access to all of the valley’s hot spots. The more people who opt for the use of the shuttle, the less traffic within the park. It takes about 35-40 minutes, a 26 mile drive, from Wawona to Yosemite Valley. Renting a bicycle is also a great option!
Wawona Walking Distance Perks
Staying in Wawona means you are within walking distance to two local markets, a restaurant in a historical national landmark such as the The Wawona Hotel, gas station, The Pioneer History Village, Thomas Hill Studio, Wawona Stables, barn dancing, stagecoach rides, river walks, swim hole hikes and dips, waterfall access, golfing, a beautiful library, a laundry facility, (deep breath!) and the Mariposa Grove. Basically, you have access to all of these perks from your private home rental nestled in a historic, mountainous, small town inside a national park.
Access to the Mariposa Grove Shuttle from Wawona
If you’re a guest at The Redwoods, then you’re entitled to a free Mariposa Grove Shuttle from Wawona (park and ride at the Wawona General Store near the gas station) to the newly reopened Mariposa Grove Plaza, from where another quick 5 minute bus/shuttle takes you inside the giant sequoia grove.
Fall asleep underneath the Redwoods or lay on a meadow stargazing
There is nothing more serene than staying away from the city buzz, to fall asleep underneath a clear sky in the shade of the Redwoods. You can see just why Theodore Roosevelt had his breath taken away when he first arrived here. There is nothing like enjoying the early mornings, sunset, and evenings in the tranquility of Yosemite’s spectacular natural beauty, so grab the blanket and a picnic basket, and find your spot under Wawona’s starry skies this summer and fall!
Have we convinced you to plan your next stay within the Yosemite National Park?
All of our cozy Redwoods cabins and spacious vacation homes are located in Wawona, at the Southern entrance of Yosemite, just 6 miles from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias (don’t forget the free shuttle access). Relaxing and private, our fully equipped vacation homes and cabins border the wild and scenic South Fork of The Merced River, the Wawona swinging bridge and Chilnualna Falls (the second highest vertical drop waterfalls in Yosemite)! Our Event Center includes full use of the Fireside Room and adjacent deck, with an audio and visual equipment and a catering kitchen. Many of our 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. Relax, explore, escape!
Text collaborator: Christina Kantzavelos, BuenQamino
*activities are subject to change. For the most up-to-date park news and accessibility please click or tap here here.
The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Visit to Yosemite in March
Yosemite in March is the sweet spot of winter’s first blossoming into spring. It’s a season of sandals and snow, of solitude and sunshine, and on top of all that, some of the most spectacular scenes Yosemite can dream up. Ready to plan a visit to Yosemite that will be ready for anything that March has in store? Read on.
Yosemite Weather in March
March weather conditions vary from year to year and from day to day. The average high temperature is 58F/14C, the average low is just above freezing at 33F/0.5C, and we get roughly 9 days of precipitation on average. It’s still winter here, but the temperatures are rising and the days growing longer. Combine that with warmer temperatures at lower elevations and cooler temperatures at altitude, and it becomes possible to bundle up for downhill skiing in the morning and then find a spot to relax in the sunshine in a t-shirt in the afternoon.
Another thing that the averages don’t tell you is the range of weather conditions that you could expect. We have had snowstorms in March that drop multiple feet of snow over the course of just a few days. However, more commonly we find ourselves in comfortably warm temps with plenty of sunshine inspiring people to relax by the river in t-shirts and sandals. Especially lately, we’ve seen more of the latter, but Mother Nature is fickle in March, and you never know when she might switch things up just for fun.
That playfulness includes some of the most stunning displays Yosemite has to offer. You’ll just want to pack some rain gear and a reasonable tolerance for rain/snow to get out and enjoy it. A few clouds turn the grandiosity of Yosemite’s landscapes to up to 11, with rose and gold clouds creating celestial landscapes upon landscapes at sunset or sunrise, or low-hanging clouds enhancing the drama of the steep cliffs and spires. It’s no coincidence that serious photographers scan the forecasts for these storm-filled sessions, and rush to the park at the first hint of precipitation.
What to Pack for March in Yosemite?
Given the unpredictability of the weather, there are two keys to ensuring that you have the right clothing packed for a visit to Yosemite in March.
- Keep an eye on the weather forecast. The weather forecasts 3-7 days out are reasonably reliable and should give you a sense of what to expect in the moment. If there is precipitation in the forecast, it’d be wise to pack a few extra warm layers and consider waxing the skis. However, if the forecast is for 60F and sunny, you’ll want to have enough lightweight layers, short-sleeves, or lightweight hiking pants.
One of the best sources for this information is the National Park Service weather map because it has links not only for a general Yosemite forecast but for point forecasts of destinations in and around the park. This is critical because on the same day, you might find highs of 60F/ 15C in El Portal at 2500 feet ASL while the highs at Badger Pass Ski Area will be more like 40F/4.5C at 7700 feet ASL.
Of course, if you’re staying at one of the cabins managed by The Redwoods In Yosemite, we also have a full-time staff who lives and works in the area. Just give us a call the week before your trip. We’re happy to fill you in on what has been happening weather-wise and what to expect in the upcoming week.
- Pack a variety of layers. Plan your clothing so that you can put on or shed layers like an onion. For example, on the coldest mornings, you might start with a t-shirt topped by a long-sleeved shirt or sweater, a warm puffy layer, and a rain jacket/windbreaker. Then, as the day warms up, you can gradually peel off those layers to match whatever the day brings.
Hats and buffs are small items that add up to a lot of warmth, and you can even layer warmer mittens over thin gloves if your hands tend to get cold (just don’t squeeze them on – tight-fitting shoes and gloves can actually make your feet and hands feel colder.)
The California sun is powerful. Even in summer, most people are grateful for an extra layer when the sun dips behind the mountains. Expect to add and subtract layers over the course of any given day.
What Can I See in Yosemite in March?
Most of Yosemite’s most well-known attractions are viewable in March. Yosemite Valley landmarks like El Capitan are easily accessible, and ephemeral waterfalls, like Yosemite Falls, while not yet at peak spring run-off, have at least returned to life with the winter rain and snowfall. You can visit Tunnel View to get its iconic perspective on the length of Yosemite Valley and watch the sun rise over the Merced River from Valley View.
In a good year, much of the higher elevation cliffs like Half Dome or Cloud’s Rest will still be covered in a shawl of white snow. This makes them more difficult to hike to, but also enhances their drama and beauty from the comparative warmth of Yosemite Valley.
Wawona will, of course, be open. The tranquility of the season is doubly apparent in this peaceful valley, with the Wild and Scenic Merced River and several smaller but still scenic creeks winding their way through the landscape. The luxury of warming up in a cozy cabin in Wawona with a roaring fire after a day of exploring Yosemite can’t be overstated.
Nearby, the ancient sequoia trees in the Mariposa Grove will be drinking their fill of early spring run-off and melting snows. If there is still snow on the ground, you can rent cross-country skis or snowshoes to visit these majestic giants. Usually, the trail is relatively packed within a few days after a fresh snowfall which can help keep you from sinking too far into the snow, though waterproof footwear or some extra changes of socks are still recommended.
The far end of Glacier Point Road, like the higher elevation Tioga Road across the sierra, will be covered with snow and closed to vehicles. Instead, the Glacier Point Road stops at the Badger Pass Ski Area, where you can enjoy views of the snow-capped Sierra mountains from the chair lift and while skiing or boarding the family-friendly slopes.
Badger Pass is also a delightful starting point for exploration by cross country ski or snowshoe. Marked trails through quiet conifer forests and lead to snow-covered vistas. A groomed trail along the snow-covered portion of the Glacier Point Road leads all the way to the famous overlook. However, most people opt for the much shorter (7-8 mile/11-13 km round-trip), but still spectacular trail to Dewey Point for a view down into Yosemite Valley or an even shorter option to the top of Old Badger Summit for views of the High Sierra peaks.
What Activities Can I Do in Yosemite in March?
Often the lower-elevation hiking trails will be mostly clear of snow by March, making for peaceful and easy hiking. Explore some of the short hiking trails in Yosemite Valley.
- Lower Yosemite Falls trail takes you to the base of the famous waterfall.
- Cook’s Meadow is a flat walk with views of Half Dome and other majestic Yosemite Valley Cliffs
- The Mirror Lake trail has great views of the Merced River beneath the looming face of Half Dome.
For longer hikes that lead up from Yosemite Valley or Wawona, you will be more likely to encounter snow the higher you go. These popular trails are usually packed out within a day or two of any fresh snowfall making snowshoes less useful. However, many people feel more comfortable on these slippery trails with microspikes like Stabilicers or YakTracks on their shoes, or with hiking poles.
Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing
If you want to get off the beaten path, both cross country skis and snowshoes will help you stay afloat in less-consolidated snow. As previously mentioned, you’ll find marked winter routes at Badger Pass and within the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Depending on the snow conditions, these are also great ways to explore the meadows and golf course in Wawona for some closer-to-home options.
Cross country ski and snowshoe rentals are available at the Nordic Center at Badger Pass. You can also take cross country ski lessons or go on a guided snowshoe walk or ski tour.
Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
Badger Pass Ski Area is fun and easy way to take advantage of the winter season. Badger Pass is a wonderful, family-friendly ski area where you can rent skis or snowboards, and take lessons. The mellow open slopes make it easy to stay connected with your group, and lift lines are rarely more than a few people deep.
Badger Pass has 5 chair lifts, 10 runs and a vertical drop of 800 feet. The expansive sun-filled deck is the perfect place to relax, grab a bite to eat, and keep an eye on the action slope-side.
The outdoor ice skating rink at Curry Village is surrounded by history and stories of Olympic dreams, not to mention the extraordinary views of Half Dome you’ll have while gliding across the ice. Rental skates are available and be sure to bring some s’more fixings so you can roast marshmallows by the warming fire in between skating.
Even closer to the cabins in Wawona, you can practice your triple-toe-loops on a rink with views looking out across the Sierra National Forest at the Tenaya Lodge Ice Skating rink.
Immerse Yourself in Yosemite’s Past
Wander through the Yosemite History Center where each of the buildings represents different chapters of Yosemite’s past. As you explore, interpretive signs fill you in on the historical significance of each building so you can imagine what it would be like to live as an artist along the banks of the Merced River in the early 1900s, or imagine trying to escape from a building intended to contain explosives that was later turned into a jail.
Yosemite’s sunsets warm the winter landscapes with ruby and orange displays. There are several classic winter sunset locations that take advantage of that magical light reflecting off of Half Dome, such as Sentinel Bridge, Cook’s Meadow, or the ever-popular Tunnel View. You can also admire the sunset directly by pulling off the road on your way home from Badger Pass to watch the sun setting over the western hills, or stopping to enjoy the views along Highway 41 on your way back to Wawona from Yosemite Valley.
Soak in a private hot tub or jacuzzi
Congratulate yourself on your adventures in a wintry wonderland by returning to your home away from home at The Redwoods In Yosemite, and drawing yourself a nice hot bath in a jetted tub or a gloriously long soak in a private hot tub.
Curl up by the fire with a glass of wine or cup of hot chocolate
There is nothing quite like the crackle of a flickering fire to settle the mind and soothe away worries. Many of the vacation rental homes in Wawona feature fireplaces, and wood is provided during the winter months by The Redwoods In Yosemite so that you can settle in with a glass of wine or a mug of hot chocolate and reminisce about the discoveries of the day.
Getting Around Yosemite in Winter
While there is a great deal to see and do, March is still one of the wintery months in Yosemite. And while most of the time getting around is easy enough, the sometimes snow-covered roads deserve respect and a measure of caution. When road conditions warrant, you will start to see chain control areas in Yosemite and the surrounding Sierra. Chains give your vehicle extra traction to navigate the slippery roads and get you where you want to go. Especially if you see some winter weather in the forecast for your trip, you will want to be prepared by knowing about chain requirements and tips on winter driving here.
Where to Book Your Stay?
Naturally, we’re biased. Of course, you can reserve a hotel room in Yosemite Valley, but we think renting a private home is a better call for a month like March, and here’s why:
- In March, the days are getting longer, but sunset is still around 6:30pm. Rather than retreating to your room with the TV, try a rental cabin that has a pool table or game room. Put together a puzzle or play a board game at the dining table. In a rental cabin there is just more space to spread out, and relax. You can put the kids to bed, and then curl up with a movie without disturbing them.
- Having your own private kitchen makes it easy to create your own favorite meals together – or a special dessert.
- Some cabins have a washer and dryer. If it does snow, you’ll be delighted to be able to toss a few wet items in the dryer so that they are warm and ready for the next day of exploring.
- Internet is hard in the mountains and especially in a national park. Choose a home with its own internet service. It may not be as fast as the city, but at least you won’t be sharing it with all of the other hotel guests.
- Select pet-friendly cabins make it possible to bring the fur family members with you on vacation.
The Redwoods In Yosemite website makes finding the ideal vacation rental home for your group easy with plenty of filters to help you find the features that are important to you.
Plus, if you still have any questions about what to expect during your March trip, feel free to reach out to the friendly and knowledgeable staff at The Redwoods In Yosemite. Our staff lives nearby and will naturally be up-to-date on weather patterns and local conditions to help you fine-tune your vacation plans as well.
Take Advantage of March Deals
And last, but not least, keep your eyes open for great deals on rental cabins in March. The park’s relative quiet makes this a great time to take advantage of lower prices to extend your stay for the same cost or to upgrade to a rental home in the Luxury Collection to treat yourself to a few extra perks during your trip. How about a private fireplace or jetted hot tub for a long soak after exploring the park?
Tioga Pass Road aka Highway 120 makes way for perfect summer and early fall adventures in Tuolumne Meadows. After a heavy winter, the waterfalls are still strong, and there is even some snowmelt on some of high country trails. We have a list to plan your perfect day of trail hiking, whether you’re just looking for a short and sweet stroll or something to test those limits. The best part? Even with its popularity, and short season, Tuolumne tends to be much less crowded than Yosemite Valley (cue prayer hands).
Check out the free Tuolumne Meadow Shuttle if you’re planning to knock out a few trails in a day.
Cathedral Lakes (7-8 miles/Moderate)
Part of the John Muir Trail, this is a gorgeous and very popular scenic hike surrounded by peaks like Cathedral Peak (hence the name) and by Echo and Tresidder Peaks, all standing at 10,000 ft in elevation. The reason Cathedral Lakes is plural is that there is a detour for Lower Cathedral Lake, as well as Upper Cathedral Lake. Lower Cathedral Lake is a more popular destination, but why not visit both?
Tenaya Lake (2.5 miles/Easy)
Get ready for postcard views on this hike, featuring one of Yosemite’s most beautiful and picturesque lakes surrounded by granite domes and peaks. A naturally beautiful hike, its short length and ease makes it popular for good reason.
Elizabeth Lake (4.6 miles/Moderate)
Have you caught on to Tuolomne’s lake theme yet? This hike isn’t as popular as Tenaya Lake, likely because of its steep uphill beginning. However, it’s just as picturesque. The lake is surrounded by evergreens and large gorgeous granite like Unicorn Peak.
Glen Aulin (13 miles/Strenuous)
Alright, so this one isn’t a lake, however, it is a trail that guides you to beautiful Tuolumne Falls and White Cascade. It’s also popular because it’s part of the Pacific Crest Trail and is a gateway to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Yes, Tuolumne Meadows has it all.
Gaylor Lakes (2 miles/moderate)
Easily one of Yosemite’s most underrated hikes. A steep climb rewards you with spectacular views of Dana, Mammoth, Gibbs and other mountains as well as Dana Meadows. In addition, it has five lakes that seem untouched, picturesque, almost like a Hollywood backdrop. If that’s not enough, there’s even an abandoned 1870’s mine that sits above Gaylor Lake.
Mono Pass (8 miles/moderate)
This trans-sierra trail takes you through wet meadows and rushing creeks, providing you with amazing views of Bloody Canyon and stunning Mono Lake. Not nearly as crowded as other trails in the area.
Lyell Canyon via the John Muir Trail (8 miles/Easy)
A pleasant hike that passes through the Lyell fork of the Tuolumne River, as well as the bridged Rafferty Creek and Ireland Creeks. At the eight-mile mark, you are awarded with the Kuna Creek’s cascade. Looking for something shorter? You can walk ½ hour each way to and from the Twin Bridges. Keep in mind, this trail can get muddy and you will likely run into some Pacific Crest Trail and/or John Muir hikers.
Dog Lake (2.8 miles/Moderate)
No, there are no puppies to be found here. Though, there is a still mountain lake, bordered by evergreens and granite mountains. You’re already en route to Lembert Dome, why not continue forward and get a beautiful view of Tuolumne Meadows?
Lembert Dome (2.8 miles/Moderate)
Lembert Dome does not feature a lake or cascade, but it does offer some fantastic views of Tuolumne meadows. If you stay straight at the junction it will lead you to Dog Lake, making it a solid four miles. It may get windy, so hold onto your hats. And as always, stay off domes during chances of thunderstorms.
Soda Spring and Parsons Lodge (1.5 miles/Easy)
Also located in the same parking lot as the Lembert Dome and Dog Lake trailheads. The third hike of the day is a charm, right? This trail takes you to springs that spew cold bubbling water right out of the ground. This is where your carbonated beverages come from. Kidding. And there is an enclosure to ensure you don’t try testing the carbonation levels.
Looking for a home base for your hikes?
All of our 120 Redwoods In Yosemite cabins are located in historic Wawona, near the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park, just a few miles from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias (free shuttle access to grove when you stay with us!). Relaxing and private, these fully equipped vacation homes border the wild and scenic South Fork of The Merced River, the Wawona swinging bridge and Chilnualna Falls (the second-highest vertical drop waterfalls in Yosemite)! Our Event Center includes full use of the Fireside Room and adjacent deck, with audio and visual equipment and a catering kitchen. Many of our 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. Come on up! Relax. Explore. Escape!
Written By Christina Kantzavelos