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!
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