How to Plan a Yosemite Trip

Yosemite National Park is a world famous destination for good reason. Renowned for stunning landscapes, iconic landmarks, and diverse wildlife, there is so much to see and do in this 1,169-square mile park – so how do you plan a Yosemite trip?

Rainbow Over Tuolumne Meadows (Robb Hirsch)
Rainbow over Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite National Park Essentials

When you’re ready to visit Yosemite, consider what you want out of your trip. The park experiences a range of weather patterns throughout the year, from hot summer and mild spring to chilly fall and snowy winter, and each season presents unique opportunities for exploration. 

Summer is the best time to visit Yosemite for hiking, with warm and dry weather creating the ideal conditions for outdoor activities like hiking in addition to swimming, rock climbing, and more. 

Spring in Yosemite is great for slow-paced wildflower spotting and white water rafting – two very different ends of the adventure spectrum! Spring marks the beginning of Yosemite’s largest wildflower bloom, which takes several months to complete. Snowmelt contributes to the rushing rivers and magnificent waterfalls, carrying power and beauty from Yosemite’s mountaintops. 

Visiting Yosemite in fall is ideal for long-haul hikes, as the cooler temperatures and vibrant fall colors transform the park into an autumnal wonderland. Fall is also peak rock climbing season in Yosemite, so keep your eyes peeled for climbers moving up and down iconic sights like Half Dome and El Capitan. 

Winter in Yosemite means snow and snow sports! Some trails throughout the park are accessible via snowshoe, a fun and unique way to see the park blanketed in snow. Visitors also love to ski and snow tube in Yosemite during the winter months.

Firefall Ranch King Room, Sitting Area Queen Sofa Bed, Indoor/Outdoor Fireplace and Deck (Tracy Barbutes)
Cabin interior at Firefall Ranch.

Find Your Yosemite Lodging

Lodging in Yosemite ranges from rustic campsites to cozy cabins. Firefall Ranch, brand new in Spring 2024, offers comfortable accommodations near Yosemite National Park that are “fine but not fussy,” the perfect blend of mountain charm and thoughtful modern touches.

Choose from a variety of one- and two- bedroom cottages or 3-bedroom villas spread across a 300-acre mountain resort. Each unit centers around a picturesque living room with a fireplace and private deck, and is warmly furnished with comfy bedding, custom artwork, Alexa devices, gourmet coffee brewers, heated bathroom floors, and more.

Group Picnic at Hetch Hetchy (Kim Carroll).
Group picnic at Hetch Hetchy.

Planning Your Yosemite Activities

Get an insider’s look at Yosemite when you leave the planning to the experts. The experienced guides at Rush Creek Lodge and Evergreen Lodge lead tours through many areas of the park, both iconic sights and hidden gems. These Yosemite hikes and tours give you a backstage pass to Yosemite, from plane rides in the air high above to Jeep tours deep in the Valley. Browse the full selection of Yosemite guided tours.

Youth Hiking North Rim of Yosemite Valley
Group hiking north rim of Yosemite Valley.

Gear and Clothing Must Haves

Your choice of gear depends on the time of year you visit Yosemite – although you should bring your swimsuit in winter to enjoy the sauna, hot tubs, and heated pools at the lodges. For summer trips, utilize light layers and don’t forget your sunscreen, hat, and plenty of water. Cool weather trips to Yosemite require waterproof clothing to protect you against the snow, and insulated hiking boots. Bring these items along year round:

  • Hiking essentials, like your trail maps, compass and GPS, and sturdy hiking boots
  • Safety gear, like a flashlight or headlamp, multi-tool, and first aid kit
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent

No matter when you visit Yosemite, bring your sense of adventure and get ready for the trip of a lifetime. From guided tours to leisure at the lodges, there are countless ways to experience this bucket list destination in California – get started and plan your trip to Yosemite today at Firefall Ranch.

Frequently Asked Questions about Planning a Yosemite Trip

Get the most out of your Yosemite trip with the answers to the most frequently asked questions about planning a trip to this stunning national park. 

How many days should you spend in Yosemite?

Most visitors spend two to four days in Yosemite, affording you time to see the area’s highlights and leaving room for a little spontaneity. You can maximize your time in Yosemite with a Yosemite guided tour to hit the park’s most iconic sights. 

What is the best month to visit Yosemite?

The best month to visit Yosemite is relative depending on what you need out of your trip. Summer is the best time to visit Yosemite for hiking, with warm and dry weather creating the ideal conditions for outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, swimming, and more. 

Spring is great for wildflower spotting and seeing waterfalls, plus white-water rafting. Snowmelt contributes to rushing rivers and magnificent waterfalls during this time of year. 

Visiting Yosemite in the fall is best for longer hikes, with cooler temperatures and autumnal scenery turning the park into a fall wonderland. Fall is also peak rock climbing season, with October fondly called “Rocktober” by the locals. 

Winter in Yosemite brings snow, snow, and more snow! Enjoy the fresh powder on snowshoes, skis, or a tube, and then retire to your cozy cottage at Firefall Ranch to warm up in front of your very own gas fireplace.

Where should I go for my first time in Yosemite?

If it’s your first time in Yosemite, we recommend hitting the highlights with a guided trip to make the most of your time. This two-in-one Yosemite Valley and giant sequoia naturalist hike from Firefall Ranch showcases Yosemite Valley’s icons like Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, and the Merced River. 

What is the best way to experience Yosemite?

The best way to experience Yosemite is by simply getting out there! Hike, swim, and explore the area. Looking for a unique way to see Yosemite? Try a flight tour – these tours put visitors high above Yosemite National Park for sights that you just can’t get from the ground.