Frequently Asked Questions


Help! I'm overwhelmed... what do I need to know?

Keep reading! You'll find the answers to many basic questions about visiting Yosemite below. That includes information about various reservations you may need, how to get to Yosemite, what to see, where to go, etc.


Do I need a reservation to get into Yosemite?

A reservation is required to drive into the park for some dates and times from April 13 through October 27. A reservation was required to drive into and through Yosemite at certain times in 2020, 2021, 2022, and February 2023 and 2024. A reservation is not required if you have a reservation for lodging, camping, vacation rental or backpacking inside the park or if you have a Half Dome permit.

Do I need a reservation to stay in Yosemite?

You should get a reservation for lodging as early as possible if you want to stay in (or near) Yosemite:

If you can't find an overnight reservation, we have some tips.

Where to Go and What to Do

What is there to see in Yosemite?

Yosemite National Park protects nearly 1,200 square miles (311,000 Ha) of the Sierra Nevada in California. The park is most famous for is towering waterfalls and famous rock formations in Yosemite Valley, ancient giant sequoias, and subalpine meadows.

The park has several different areas to visit:

  • Yosemite Valley is world famous for its impressive waterfalls, meadows, cliffs, and unusual rock formations; reachable by car year-round.

  • Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite and is home to over 500 mature sequoias. Mariposa Grove shuttle service operates approximately mid-April through November. Wawona, open all year, is the home to the historic Wawona Hotel and the Yosemite History Center.

  • Glacier Point is an overlook with a commanding view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Yosemite’s high country. Glacier Point Road is open approximately May to November.

  • Crane Flat is a pleasant forest and meadow area located 16 miles (30 minutes) from Yosemite Valley. Crane Flat is open all year.

  • Hetch Hetchy, hidden in Yosemite National Park’s peaceful northwest corner, is a treasure worth visiting in all seasons. Hetch Hetchy is open all year.

  • Tuolumne Meadows is a large, open sub-alpine meadow graced by the winding Tuolumne River and surrounded by majestic peaks and domes. Tioga Road. which crosses Yosemite and provides access to Tuolumne Meadows and beyond, is open approximately late May or June to November.

When is the best time of year to visit Yosemite?

It depends what you're looking for! While most people visit Yosemite during summer, there are advantages to visiting visiting in all the different seasons.

Keep in mind the some roads are closed part of the year:

  • Tioga Road (typically closed from sometime in November through late May or June): continuation of Highway 120 through the park, leading to to the high country and Tuolumne Meadows. When Tioga Road is closed, the two passes across the Sierra Nevada open all year are Highway 88 (to the north) or Highway 58 (to the south).

  • Glacier Point Road (typically closed from sometime in November to sometime in May): leads to Glacier Point, a famous overlook of Yosemite Valley.

  • Mariposa Grove Road (typically closed approximately December to April): leads to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. When open, the road is only available to vehicles displaying a disability placard. Otherwise, a free shuttle operates when the road is open. When the road is closed, it is possible to hike to the Mariposa Grove trailhead (possibly in snow or ice), which is two miles each way with 500 feet of elevation change.

What is there to do in Yosemite?

There are so many things to do in Yosemite, including hiking, tours, ranger and interpretive programs, art, biking, winter sports, and more!

Where can I see giant sequoias?

There are three giant sequoia groves in Yosemite National Park: the Mariposa Grove, the Tuolumne Grove, and the Merced Grove. Mariposa Grove is reachable by free shuttle from about April through November (conditions permitting). Tuolumne and Merced Groves (and Mariposa Grove in winter) are only reachable by hiking four to six miles round-trip (with 500 feet of elevation change).

When do the Half Dome cables go up and come down?

The hike to the top of Half Dome is 14 miles round-trip with about 5,000 feet of elevation gain, which is to say it is very strenuous. The last stretch of the trail to the top of Half Dome is steep enough that hikers need support from a set of cable railings and wooden planks on the rock to reach the top.

The Half Dome cables are normally installed immediately before Memorial Day weekend, but this can vary depending on conditions and trail crew availability. The cables usually remain up through Columbus Day (in October). A permit is required to hike Half Dome. The National Park Service strongly discourages hikers from attempting the cable route when the cables are down.

Where and when can I see Horsetail Fall, the waterfall that resembles the Firefall?

Horsetail Fall flows in winter and early spring, when snow is present on top of El Capitan. On sunny afternoons in mid- to late February, the setting sun can cause it to glow orange. A reservation may be required to visit Yosemite in mid- to late February.

Getting to and Around Yosemite

How do I get to Yosemite?

Keeping in mind that GPS units often provide incorrect driving directions in and around Yosemite, please take a look at our driving directions. You can get to Yosemite via Highways 41, 140, and 120 from the west all year. From approximately late May or June to sometime in November, you can also enter Yosemite via Highway 120 from the east (over Tioga Pass).

Can I drive my own vehicle into the park?

You can drive your own vehicle into and aroundd Yosemite. Shuttle buses are not mandatory, but are recommended. Fuel and electric vehicle charging are available but limited. An entrance fee is required, and a reservation may be required, but no permit or fee is required for parking.

Will I need to bring tire chains?

Tire chains may be required in fall, winter, and spring due to snowy or icy conditions. It's not possible to predict when exactly they may be required since requirements are based on conditions.

Will Tioga Road be open?

Tioga Road (continuation of Highway 120 through the park, from Crane Flat to Tioga Pass) is open approximately late May or June to sometime in November, though these dates vary depending on conditions. View a list of opening and closing dates since 1980.

Are there vehicle restrictions in Yosemite?

Some roads have vehicle restrictions on height, length, and/or width.

Visitor Services

Where can I spend the night in or near Yosemite?

Yosemite has several lodging and camping options in and around the park. Get a reservation early! We also have some tips if you can't find a reservation.

Can I bring my pet to Yosemite?

Pets are allowed in some areas of Yosemite. They generally are not allowed on hiking trails and must always be leashed. These regulations protect wildlife, pets, and other people.

Is Internet access available in Yosemite?

Internet access is available in some locations (but may not be very fast).

Will my cell phone work in Yosemite?

Cell service is available with some carriers in some areas, but is limited. Do not expect to have reliable service around the park.

What services are available for visitors with disabilities?

The park strives for full and equal participation for all visitors and continually upgrades facilities, programs and services to improve accessibility. The Yosemite Accessibility Guide outlines a variety of accessible services, facilities, and activities available in Yosemite.

Citizens and legal residents with permanent disabilities are entitled to a free Access Pass that provides the holder free entrance to federal fee areas. The pass is available at all park entrances stations and information centers.

How can I get an educational fee waiver?

Educational fee waivers are available to educational groups that meet certain criteria.


Why are animals so tame here? Can I feed them?

Animals in the park are wild, but many are accustomed to people because they have been fed so often. It is illegal to feed or approach any animal in the park. Feeding animals contributes to poor nutrition, ill health, and the alteration of natural behavior patterns. Visitors who get close to or feed animals may also be bitten, scratched, or otherwise injured, or may become ill.

How can I protect bears from my food (and my food from bears)?

Yosemite's bears are always searching for food and consider anything that looks or smells like food to be food. Learn more about how to properly store your food while visiting Yosemite.

How can I protect myself from bears?

Black bears in Yosemite tend to avoid people and can be scared off. Proper food storage helps protect you, your property, and bears. Learn what to do if you see a bear.

Other Questions

Can I fly a drone in Yosemite?

In general, launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft (drones) in units of the National Park System is prohibited.

How can I get a job or find volunteer work at Yosemite?

A variety of organizations hire employees and volunteers to work in Yosemite. Learn more about jobs, internships, or volunteer positions.

Do you have a question that's not answered here? Send us an email and we'll consider adding it to this list.

Last updated: June 2, 2024

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