National Parks
Fun and Exciting Things to Do at Yosemite National Park

Fun and Exciting Things to Do at Yosemite National Park

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Located in the heart of the western Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite National Park attracts millions of visitors each year. However, the popularity of the Yosemite Valley can be a hindrance to adventurers looking to “get away.” Luckily there are some great alternative adventures to beat the crowds.

things to do at Yosemite national park

Catch the Sunrise from the top of Half Dome

A great alternative to the extremely overcrowded day trip up Half Dome is to start out in the middle of the night. Hikers wishing to beat the crowds and catch an incredible sunrise can do the round-trip in under 12 hours. Those in moderate physical shape can hike to the top in about five to six hours.

Departing the valley floor around midnight should leave enough time to reach the top by sunrise. The reward of being one of the few atop Half Dome for such a spectacular event makes it well worth the loss of sleep. After taking in the beautiful 360-degree vista, head back to the valley floor for an afternoon nap. Night hikers will be grateful they beat the crowds as they head down, passing hundreds of tourists just starting up the trail.

Don’t forget to bring food and plenty of water. Proper equipment such as a map, sturdy shoes, and comfortable clothes are important as well as a reliable flashlight or headlamp, for this trip.

Backpack around the Yosemite Valley

Hiking and backpacking are extremely popular activities in Yosemite, but going a full day’s trip from the valley floor can provide an escape from the masses of people. For more experienced backpackers looking for a longer route in Yosemite, consider a five to seven-day trip around the Valley.

Yosemite National Park hiking

A great place to start is Glacier Point, setting a counter-clockwise course around the Yosemite Valley. Head toward the Little Yosemite Valley, and then go on to Half Dome and Clouds Rest. Next, hike to Yosemite Falls via Tanaya Lake and North Dome. Hike the final descent down to the Valley floor via the Falls Trail and catch a bus back up to Glacier Point or for those with extra energy, take the steep Four-mile trail.

Backpacking Checklist

A permit is required for camping in the wilderness and Yosemite requires backpackers to carry their food in a bear canister. Both can be obtained at the ranger station. Don’t forget to bring enough food and water. A water filter can be used in many areas in Yosemite, but check beforehand with the ranger if the trail has an accessible water source. A good map, compass, warm clothing, and sleeping gear are also essential.

Although it is best to visit the park in the summer, a trip in mid-fall could still be very enjoyable. The park is simply awesome because of the chance it would give one’s eyes as they feast on the generosity that mother nature has gifted this haven. The lush old sequoias are just beautiful, the weather just perfect, the lakes and meadows appear to have jumped out of postcards, and even the squirrels look extra-special.

So what is there to experience in this gorgeous destination? Here are a few things that could lure you to visit and enjoy Yosemite’s beauty.

Camping at Yosemite National Park

For those who want to listen to the singing of the birds and the other sound of the wilderness, camping is the answer. The park has campsites that do not require a reservation. However, there is usually a heavy turnout of campers during the months of April through November. Out of the 13 popular campsites in Yosemite, there are 7 that require a reservation.

Yosemite National Park camping

What is wonderful in this park is the availability of canvass tents that would make life easier for those who do not want to pitch their own tents. Nestled in different locations, these tents are part of the lodging accommodations of the park. Although other visitors may opt for the comfy cabins and luxurious hotels, sleeping in these tents is worth the experience.

Some tents are located very near a river, while others are in the center of the valley or in the meadow. Beds, chairs, and other pieces of furnishings are available inside the tents. Central restrooms and showers are nearby. Bear-proof food containers can be seen almost everywhere.


For those who love to hike or enjoy the outside life on foot, this is the thing for you. Hiking could be done in large groups assisted by experienced tour guides while hiking with a few family members and friends are also welcome.

Hikers have the option to use different hiking sites in the valley. There is a ready brochure given at the entrance gate or found in most lobbies of hotels, motels, and restaurants. The brochure explains the distance of each hike site. Hikers are given a warning as to the level of difficulty that the different trails would entail. Ranging from easy to moderate to strenuous, hikers would know what to expect and how to prepare before they hit the trails.

Some trails would take the hikers about 30 minutes to finish, while others would require an hour. Those who wish to go to trails that fall in the strenuous level should be ready for a 5- to 8-hour hike.

Mule or Horseback Riding

horseback riding

If other places allow people, especially kids to just have a quick ride around a stable, here, visitors would have a grand time enjoying breathtaking scenery while riding a horse or a mule. Visitors could choose from 3 stables. The thrilling ride is done in groups. Available are 2-hour rides, 4-hour rides, and a ride that could even last all day.


People could bring their own bikes to the park which has a 12-mile bike trail that would allow a visit to different spots and have good exercise as well. For those who do not wish to bring their own bikes, there are bike rentals for everyone. Helmets and trailers are also available for rent. These bike rides are simply wonderful, it gives you a feeling of being in the movies.

Bus Tours in Yosemite National Park

Some people might want to avoid wasting time wondering which place of Yosemite Park they want to see first. The guided tour is the solution to this. The tour gathers a group of people and brings them to different destinations that would make them enjoy themselves and maximize their time. The history of the place is discussed. Geology, plant, and animal life are described by a well-informed tour guide.

During the warmer seasons, a wonderful open-air “green dragon” tram goes around to bring people to various spots. The Moonlight Tour is one of the famous bus tours that they have because this is done on lovely full-moon nights. From late fall to early spring, an enclosed and heated coach with large windows bring the visitors to the beautiful scenes of the park.

Rock Climbing

Experienced rock climbers provide guided climbs for both beginners and experienced climbers. Classes are also provided daily from April through October. These sessions take about 7 hours, so it is a one-day event of fun and learning. The park boasts certified guides and mountaineers.

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Water Activities

Whenever the weather cooperates, visitors to Yosemite could enjoy some water activities. Fishing could be enjoyed from April through November. People could expect to catch trout provided they have all the necessary equipment, gear, and license.


Rafting is another exciting way to enjoy the waters of Yosemite. Usually done from May until July, visitors could enjoy this sport by renting rafts at some of the centers. They are equipped with paddles and flotation devices.

Summer swimming is another enjoyable activity in the park. Although swimming pools are available, many lakes and beaches are also there to allow people to take a dip in their waters.

Winter Sports in Yosemite National Park

When winter has sprinkled its magic, Yosemite becomes a playground for those who want to go skiing, snow tubing, snowboarding, and other winter activities. Lessons are provided and equipment could be rented. Those not wanting to go into these sports are most welcome to simply enjoy the snowy pristine meadows, the ice-capped mountaintops, and icicle-draped trees.

So if you wish to go sightseeing or want to immerse yourself in outdoor activities amidst a backdrop of stunning natural splendor, come and visit Yosemite in Central California.