When you visit Yosemite in August, you find the park at its peak season. Everything is open so you’ll find the biggest selection for shopping, dining, and activities. Families are enjoying the last bit of summer travel time before school starts again with plenty of hiking options as well as refreshing trips to local swimming holes.
Pro tip: If you can, take advantage of the lull in late August. Because schools start earlier than they used to, kids often end up back in school by the middle of the month. Meanwhile, those without children often wait until after Labor Day to plan their fall trips, leaving a quiet period at the end of August when you can enjoy summer conditions with fewer people around. In fact, starting in mid-August you will also often find better discounts on Yosemite lodging.
August Weather in Yosemite
In Yosemite, August is the warmest and sunniest month of the year. High temperatures in Wawona or Yosemite Valley are often around 89°F (32°C), but mornings and evenings are cooler, averaging a delightful 57°F (14°C), perfect for hiking or other active pursuits. And when the sun is at its highest, delightful swimming holes with refreshingly cool waters invite wading, swimming, or floating.
Another popular option is to travel to higher elevations in the summer for hiking or exploration. For example, at 8,000 feet (2,622 m), in Tuolumne Meadows, the average high temperature is only 70°F (21°C). Just be sure you bring some warm layers if you want to visit the high country early or stay late because evening temperatures average just 37°F (3°C).
The month of August also has the lowest precipitation of any month, with only 0.2 inches (4 mm) of rain on average, making beautiful cloudless blue skies the August norm. The downside of California’s warm and dry August weather is the possibility for wildfire. Fire is a natural and essential part of this region’s ecosystem, but it can lead to smoky conditions if there are large fires in the area.
What Clothes to Pack for Yosemite in August
With such a big temperature range, it can be hard to decide what to pack without bringing the entire closet. The first step is to figure out where you plan to spend the most time, and then bring a variety of layers that can be added or shed depending on the day’s conditions. For example, wearing a tank top plus sun shirt plus sweater plus a puffy jacket can provide plenty of warmth for cool mornings at altitude, and you can slowly shed those layers as the day warms up. If you plan to sleep in, explore Wawona or Yosemite Valley, and then retire to your cabin for a relaxing dinner, you won’t need as many warm layers. But if you’re planning to stay up until late for astrophotography or a stargazing program, you’ll be grateful for some extra clothes.
Because the sun is so powerful in the Sierra Nevada, many people find that clothing that provides shade can be as cool or cooler than a t-shirt or tank top. Consider a wide-brimmed sun hat or a lightweight, light-colored, long sleeve sun shirt to stay cool and protect yourself from the sun’s powerful UV rays.
And don’t forget a swimming suit to take the plunge at one of Wawona’s popular swim spots.
Things to Do in Yosemite in August
You won’t lack things to do in Yosemite in August. This is the height of the summer season, so whether you’re planning to hike through the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, enjoy a horseback riding trip with Yosemite Trails, or gaze up at the starry skies with a park naturalist, you’ll find plenty of memorable activities for your visit. Here are a few highlighted suggestions to make the most of your August visit.
Hiking in August
With warmer temperatures, it’s time to think about high-elevation and shadier hikes. In Yosemite Valley, trails that face north, like the Four Mile Trail, will tend to be cooler than the Upper Yosemite Fall trail which faces south and can become a giant solar oven – amazing in January, but less welcome in August. The water in Yosemite Fall is usually minimal by this time of year anyway. The Mist Trail is a good selection because it’s in a relatively cool canyon, and the waterfalls along this trail flow year-round. The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias tends to have excellent shade from surrounding trees, so that is another good option.
Choosing hikes at higher elevations can also make a big difference in terms of temperature. Hikes along the Glacier Point Road (when it re-opens in 2023) or over in the Tuolumne Meadows area are significantly cooler than those that start at lower elevations.
An alternative strategy for finding cooler hiking conditions is to start hiking early when it is still fairly cool out and then plan more relaxed activities during the warmer part of the day. Spend the middle part of the day with a siesta in your cabin, relaxing by the water, or simply find a shady spot for a picnic. Then you can rally for more hiking as the day cools off again in the evening.
By choosing a local trail, like the one to Wawona’s Swinging Bridge, you can combine some trail time with a refreshing dip in the river.
Easily reached from the Bay Area, Fresno and Los Angeles alike, Yosemite and the surrounding area is the perfect getaway. A place to distance yourself from the crowds, from the noise, and from the city lights. Whether you’re hiking solo on a backcountry trail, or parked with the family on a turnout along one of Mariposa County’s many country roads, whether you’re using the naked eye, a pair of trusty binoculars, or that brand new telescope, the night sky seems to go on forever prompting visitors to scan the heavens, take a deep breath of fresh air and announce…wow, I’ve never seen so many stars.
In August, it is not uncommon to spot amateur astronomers setting up telescopes at Glacier Point on Saturdays. The Yosemite Conservancy offers a few Stargazing events in Yosemite Valley as well, and we highly recommend them!
When you’re ready to give your hiking boots a break, consider exploring Yosemite Valley by bicycle. There are two bike rental stands – one at Curry Village and another at Yosemite Valley Lodge – that rent cruiser bikes for commuting around the valley. Pedal Forward bikes in Oakhurst also rents mountain bikes (and bike racks) if you’re more excited about descents and single-track options in the Sierra National Forest.
Ranger-led Programs and Guided Activities
Rangers and other guides offer many opportunities to learn about Yosemite from local experts. There is everything from art classes, to astronomy programs, rock climbing lessons, train rides, horseback riding and so much more.
Connect with Yosemite’s History
The Yosemite History Center, located right in Wawona, offers a tour of significant historic structures in Yosemite. These buildings tell the story of settlers, artists, and laborers that have helped make Yosemite what it is now.
Chat with Yosemite rangers, and peek into the studio of a locally famous 19th-century artist at the Thomas Hill studio. This small building close to Wawona Hotel is now part visitor center and part free museum.
Hop aboard a historic steam train at Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad and then pan for gold, and visit their museum.
The Yosemite Museum in Yosemite Valley is another wonderful history-filled stop. Displays illustrate the cultural history of the Miwok and Paiute people from 1850 until now. Discover what they used to eat, see demonstrations of basket weaving, beadwork, and learn about traditional games. Be sure to wander through a reconstructed village behind the museum to see some of the plants that they used, and the buildings they used to live in.
Staying at the Redwoods In Yosemite in August
When you’re planning your August trip, be sure to consider getting a vacation rental cabin reservation in Wawona with The Redwoods In Yosemite. Wawona’s location inside the park gates makes it easy to explore the park. And the convenient filters on the Redwoods In Yosemite site make it easy to find just the home you’re looking for, plus you’ll save money by booking direct.