Yosemite National Park Activities

Things to Do

Short walks and longer hikes to waterfalls in Yosemite Valley; open-air tours around Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias; walks amongst giant sequoias in the Mariposa, Tuolumne, or Merced Groves; drive or take a tour bus to Glacier Point (summer-fall) to see a spectacular view of Yosemite Valley and the high country; drive along the scenic Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows (summer-fall) and go for a walk or hike.

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  • For Kids

      • Climbing

        What You Can Do Current Closures Safety Emergencies Big Walls Wilderness Permits Conservation/ Regulations Guides Yosemite is one of the world's greatest climbing areas. Climbers here can enjoy an endless variety of challenges- from the sustained crack climbs of the Merced river canyon to pinching crystals on sun drenched Tuolumne domes to multi-day aid climbs on the big walls of the Valley. Yosemite is not just a climber's playground, however- Its walls and crags are an integral part of a larger ecosystem, protected as wilderness, that was set aside for people to enjoy in a natural state for generations to come.

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      • Art in Yosemite

        Free art classes are offered spring through fall at the Art Activity Center in Yosemite Valley. Supplies can also be purchased here.

The Yosemite Museum Gallery displays exhibits of Yosemite art during spring and summer.

The Ansel Adams Gallery offers work of Ansel Adams, contemporary photographers, and other fine artists. In addition, a wide selection of handcrafts, books, gifts, and photography supplies is available.

The Yosemite Association's Field Seminar program offers multiple-day art seminars through the park (spring through fall).


Botanizing in Yosemite

Bring along or buy a plant key or book about trees or wildflowers. Then wander the meadows and forests trying to identify the various plants and trees. It can be a rewarding, educational, and fun experience!

Wildflowers typically begin appearing in spring at the lower elevations (around El Portal, just outside the park along Highway 140). Flowers become showy above Yosemite Valley sometime in June (Pacific dogwoods start blooming in May), and at Tuolumne Meadows in July.

Note: It is illegal to pick plants.


Biking

Over 12 miles of paved bike paths are available in Yosemite Valley. In addition, bicyclists can ride on regular roads (if they obey traffic laws). Helmets are required by law for children under 18 years of age.

Off-trail riding and mountain biking are not permitted in Yosemite National Park.

Bicycles are available for rent in Yosemite Valley.


Birdwatching

Yosemite is home to variety of birds. The most commonly seen birds include the Stellar's jay, American robin, Brewer's blackbird, acorn woodpecker, raven, and black-headed grosbeak. In spring, listen for the splendid glissade of the red-wing blackbrid (most often seen in meadows) or watch the American dipper dart in and out of creek and river rapids.

Some of the more sought-after birds to see in Yosemite include the great gray owl, Peregrine falcon, pileated woodpecker, and northern goshawk.

In general quiet forests away from developed areas and meadows (particularly in the mornings) are the best places to see some of the less common birds.


Rafting

Rafting along the Merced River is popular during summer. You can rent a raft (typically in June and July, but it varies from year to year, depending on water level)) or bring your own. (Other nonmotorized vessels, such as kayaks, are also permitted.)

Rafting is permitted on the Merced River between Stoneman Bridge (near Curry Village) and Sentinel Beach Picnic Area between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.. Rafting is not permitted whenever the river stage (depth) reads 6.5 feet or higher and the sum of air temperature and water temperature is less than 100F. You must have a personal flotation device immediately available for each occupant of the raft.

Rafting is also permitted on the South Fork of the Merced River in the Wawona area.

Some visitors enjoy kayaking the calm waters of Tenaya Lake


Fishing

Fishing regulations

Fishing regulations for Yosemite National Park follow those set by the State of California, including the requirement that people 16 or older have a valid California fishing license.

The season for stream and river fishing begins on the last Saturday in April and continues through November 15. The only exception is Frog Creek near Lake Eleanor, where fishing season does not open until June 15 to protect spawning rainbow trout. All lakes and reservoirs are open to fishing year-round.

There are some special regulations that apply within the park: No live or dead minnows or other bait fish, amphibians, non-preserved fish eggs, or roe may be used or possessed. Fishing from bridges and docks is prohibited. In Yosemite Valley and El Portal (Happy Isles to Foresta Bridge): Rainbow trout are catch-and-release only. Brown trout limit is five per day or ten in possession. Only artificial lures or flies with barbless hooks may be used; bait fishing is prohibited.

Fishing supplies

Fishing supplies, including fishing licenses, are available at the Yosemite Village Sport Shop, Curry Village Mountain Shop, and at the general stores in Wawona, Crane Flat, and Tuolumne Meadows.

The California Department of Fish and Game web site lists current sport fishing license fees.


Horseback Riding

Guided mule rides are available through DNC Parks Resorts at Yosemite from spring through fall.


Snowshoeing

Badger Pass ski area is home to the oldest downhill skiing area in California, and serves as a hub for Yosemite winter activities. DNC Parks amp; Resorts at Yosemite rents snowshoes.

The National Park Service offers ranger-led snowshoe walks and DNC Parks Resorts at Yosemite offer snowshoe tours from mid-December through early April.

Crane Flat is also a great place to explore the Yosemite winter landscape.


Stargazing

Yosemite National Park, miles from the nearest city lights, has a very dark night sky that makes it a great place to look at the stars.

Bring along a star chart and look for constellations, or look through binoculars at some of our planetary neighbors.

In June, July, and August, amateur astronomers often set up telescopes at Glacier Point on Saturdays, and astronomy walks or talks may also be offered elsewhere in the park.


Swimming

Besides the outdoor pools available to the public during summer at Curry Village and Yosemite Lodge swimming is permitted in all bodies of water in the park except Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and above waterfalls.

Swimming in the Merced River is a great way to cool off--but help protect the river by entering and exiting only on sandy beaches. Swimming in rivers is not without hazards, including swift currents, cold water, and hazards within the river (e.g., trees). See Waterways for more information.


Wildlife Viewing

Yosemite National Park is home to a variety of wildlife.

In general, the best time to see wildlife during the summer is in the mornings and late afternoons, when it is cooler and quieter. Look in meadows for deer, coyotes, and sometimes bears. Throughout summer days, you might encounter smaller mammals, such as a squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots (in the higher elevations).

Note: Spotlighting of wildlife is illegal in Yosemite National Park. Feeding wildlife is also prohibited.

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  • Wildlife Viewing

      • Auto Touring

        All of the roads in Yosemite National Park are scenic, but the most famous scenic drive is along the Tioga Road , a 39-mile drive from Crane Flat to Tioga Pass. The road is typically open from late May or early June through sometime in November.

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