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Yosemite National Park

Updated on September 13, 2012

Unforgettable Mountain Views, Extraordinary Wildlife, and Cascading Waterfalls at Yosemite National Park

The Crown Jewel of the Sierra Nevada

There are over 3.5 million visitors yearly that come to take in the awe-inspiring panorama of Yosemite National Park. The California National Park of the High Sierras is one of the best places to camp, kayak, sightsee, rock climb, hike, or just sit back, relax and take in the amazing views. Yosemite is known for its huge granite peaks, clear, cool rivers, gigantic cascading waterfalls and abundant wildlife.

Photo left of Yosemite by Randy Lemoine, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

Yosemite was famously protected by the work of people in the late 1800's like John Muir. Muir realized its unmatched beauty and strived to protect the land of Yosemite from development, encroachment, overuse, overgrazing, and logging. Thanks in part to Muir's work, Yosemite was designated a National Park in 1890.

Depending on the season and elevation of the area of the park, temperatures range dramatically, even during summer. High peaks can be in the 50's, while the low valley can hit 90°F in the summer. Winters are generally mild and controlled by the Pacific Coast air currents, which are only about 100 miles from the park. The chances of seeing precipitation in the park are usually slim. It remains very dry year-round.

Yosemite Poll

Yosemite is one of America's favorite National Parks.

How many times have you been to Yosemite?

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Another Grand View of Yosemite...Half Dome on the Right

Another Grand View of Yosemite...Half Dome on the Right
Another Grand View of Yosemite...Half Dome on the Right

Entering Yosemite Valley...

The Valley of Yosemite is something you will never forget. After trekking through the beginning of the park to the Valley viewpoint, you can see the entire panorama displayed before you...Half Dome, Glacier Point, El Capitan, and the Merced River.

Part of the Surreal Scenery of Yosemite Valley

Part of the Surreal Scenery of Yosemite Valley
Part of the Surreal Scenery of Yosemite Valley

Read this before booking your trip!

Much of Yosemite is closed to vehicles throughout the year. Tioga Pass road is often closed until May or June until snow melts and roads are cleared. Every year snowfall and rock debris has to be cleared from all of the roads for safe travel.

Yosemite Videos on YouTube

Why is it so Beautiful?

Glaciers from the Ice Age sculpted the famous u-shaped valley that millions of visitors flock to every year. The slightly tilted Merced River has been slowly carving out the beautiful granite landscape of the Yosemite Valley creating what we see there today.

The Merced River

The Merced River
The Merced River

Did you know...

...that there are nine National Parks in the state of California alone?

What is your FAVORITE part of Yosemite?

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Yosemite Travel Time Estimates

Here are the distances from locations to Yosemite National Park drive time. Traffic time not included!

  • San Diego to Yosemite National Park: 430 mi – about 7 hours 15 mins
  • Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park: 310 mi – about 5 hours 19 mins
  • San Francisco to Yosemite National Park: 189 mi – about 3 hours 58 mins
  • Fresno to Yosemite National Park: 92.6 mi – about 2 hours 1 min
  • Portland, Oregon to Yosemite National Park: 741 mi – about 12 hours 22 mins
  • Seattle, Washington to Yosemite National Park: 914 mi – about 15 hours 9 mins
  • Las Vegas, Nevada to Yosemite National Park: 416 mi – about 7 hours 50 mins
  • Phoenix, Arizona to Yosemite National Park: 680 mi – about 10 hours 43 mins
  • Salt Lake City, Utah to Yosemite National Park: 615 mi – about 10 hours 53 mins
  • Lake Tahoe, California to Yosemite National Park: 216 mi – about 4 hours 55 mins
  • Giant Seqouia National Park to Yosemite National Park: 155 mi – about 3 hours 2 mins

Recommended California Guides - Get to know where destinations in the Golden State!

Also, be sure to visit Wallpaper by Design, who provided some of these amazing images of Yosemite. Check them out!

Have you been to Yosemite? Would you like to share your experience? Be sure to tell us all about it!

Have you Been to Yosemite? - Tell us about your trip!

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    • FantasticVoyages profile image

      Fantastic Voyages 

      6 years ago from Texas

      I've always wanted to visit Yosemite. This is a really good article... love the photos!

    • Cinnamonbite profile image


      6 years ago

      I'll be there next week!

    • Cal-gal profile image

      Meredith Davies 

      7 years ago

      Yes I have been many times. I used to ski there.I fell in love there. I have taken my children there and also told them to scatter my ashes when I pass. I believe it is the most beautiful place I have been.

    • SaraLynn LM profile image

      SaraLynn LM 

      7 years ago

      Beautiful Lens.. Yosemite is one of my favorite places in the world. One of the most frightening times in my life was when I came face to face with a bear while hiking in Yosemite.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've been to Yosemite a few times as a child. I have wonderful memories of these trips and I especially enjoyed ice skating in the village and walking to the various waterfalls.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I went to Yosemite many times while growing up. It was a yearly vacation spot for our family. Last summer I took a trip down memory lane with my sister and went with her to Yosemite for a couple of days. It was gorgeous! Water was at its fullest in the waterfalls, and there were a number of smaller falls I've never seen before falling all around the edge above. If you've never been to Yosemite, put it on your must-do list. Angel blessed, a wonderful lens.

    • dismantlerepair profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens on something so beautiful. I'm looking forward to seeing some of this on my America trip in October!

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L B 

      8 years ago from Covington, LA

      I hear that Yosemite may be turning purple in a couple of days! ;)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I lived in California & plan to again -- a favorite park. I like spotting it from the air, too.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Visited in 1989 - what an awe-inspiring place!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      ~angel blessings to you~

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I was lucky enough to spend some time in Yosemite back in '94. Must be my favourite national park in the States. I even managed to climb Half Dome, which was great fun, though slightly hairy on that steep final stretch.

    • sittonbull profile image


      9 years ago

      I was so fortunate to go in 1971 when my pard & I derossed out of the army @ Ft.Lewis, Wash & bought Honda 750s for our 3 month "Easy Rider" trip back home... he to to SC. It was in July and back then the crowds were not near as bad as I understand they are today. We were on a $5/day budget, so we rolled our sleeping bags out on the hillside(illegally) & I paid for it with a case of poison oak... However that led us to the park ranger's HQ where we 2 single guy met the 2 single female park rangers. We ended up staying over a week & had a personal tour of all the great spots in the park. Yosemite took my breath away then as the most beautiful place I'd ever been. I've been all around the world since then & still consider it the most beautiful place I've ever been. John Muir call the Sierra's "The Range of Light" and it does have a most unique energy and light that makes everything glow with it's most beautiful presentation possible. Wonderful lens_wonderful place!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Beautiful lens about a gorgeous place. 5* and I added it to my Natural Wonder Lens.

    • karen550 lm profile image

      karen550 lm 

      9 years ago

      Ok, you talked me into it. I absolutely have to go now. I sure we can make it this summer. That would be fantastic. I really want to. I loved your photos. They are so spectacular. I love National Parks anyway, but it looks like from your photos that its better than Yellowstone and The Grand Canyon...I've been to both of these. Thanks so much for this lens.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      10 years ago

      Yosemite is indeed a beautiful place. Lake Tahoe is another jewel of the Sierras.

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L B 

      10 years ago from Covington, LA

      Welcome to the Naturally Native Squids group. Don't forget to add your lens link to the appropriate plexo and vote for it. I've featured Yosemite.

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L B 

      10 years ago from Covington, LA

      Beautiful lens. How about joining our group Naturally Native Squids? It would be a wonderful addition.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I once slept on the ground at Yosemite with only a sleeping bag. Woke up with a critter sniffing my face. It startled both of us. The guy bolted before I could see what it was. This lens does Yosemite justice as well as a lens can, so high 5*. Thanks.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Very nice! I have a lens about Sequoia National Park and you gave me some good ideas for future revisions. 5* and favorited!

    • KadabaCo profile image


      10 years ago

      Yosemite is Mother Nature's Home! I just love it there and your pictures make me want to get in my car and go right now! (I'm only 90 minutes from there) I'm lensrolling on my Copperopolis lens for sure! 5*'s

    • Ellen Mitchell profile image

      Ellen Mitchell 

      10 years ago

      In my 61 years, I've visited Yosemite almost every year since I was 6 months old. My brother and sisters and their families are there this very week at our yearly reunion in Yosemite Valley. I wasn't able to go this year....and I am heart sick, wishing I were there today.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image


      10 years ago

      I've never been there but it looks and sound beautiful. I will be adding it to my someday list.



    • Stephen Lewis profile image

      Stephen Lewis 

      10 years ago

      Great work. Makes me homesick. If you have to do the park on a budget, check out my trip plan lens at Yosemite Valley Family Trip Plan at Low Cost.

      Thanks for all the work.

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image


      10 years ago from Canada

      How beautiful! I would love to go to Yosemite some day.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      10 years ago

      Welcome to All Things Travel. I've only been to Yosemite once, but my parents visit every year. You did a fantastic job with this lens and I'm giving it a Squid Angel Blessing.

    • RawBill1 profile image


      10 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Great lens! Yosemite is such a magical place. I was there in the winter of 98. It is my second favourite place in the country and would love to return in the summertime.

    • billco1 profile image


      10 years ago

      Never been, but would like to see it... Nice work!

    • NewRiver LM profile image

      NewRiver LM 

      10 years ago

      Wow, how beautiful! Thanks!


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