Yosemite National Park is one of the world’s most celebrated open spaces, forming the heart of a long strip of protected land that runs north-to-south along California’s eastern border. Imposing rock formations rise over mirror-like lakes, peaceful meadows and shady forests. Strike out on the park’s miles of hiking, ou and horse-riding trails, or head east to discover world-class skiing and snowboarding resorts. This is the American wilderness at its best – a grand landscape of granite monoliths, pine forests, crashing waterfalls and historic Gold Rush towns.
Head to Yosemite Village for a beginner’s introduction to the park. Drop into the official visitor centre to pick up maps and activity recommendations, then grab a bite to eat in a local restaurant and plan the days ahead. If you’re not driving, you can jump on a free shuttle bus from Yosemite Village to some of the park’s most iconic sights.
With 800 miles of trails to choose from, hiking is one of the best and most popular ways to see Yosemite. Try the trail to Lower Yosemite Falls and feel the spray of North America’s tallest waterfall on your face. If you’re a serious hiker, apply for a permit to climb Half Dome, an iconic granite cliff that rises high above the surrounding hills. The views are spectacular, and it’s so popular that permits are distributed by lottery.
Explore the east of Yosemite National Park to discover some lesser-visited sights. Enjoy a riverside stroll and picnic at peaceful Tuolumne Meadows, with the stunning Cathedral Peak in the distance. At Mono Lake, admire the unusual limestone formations that rise from the water, then head north to visit the Gold Rush ‘ghost town’ of Bodie.
Looking for something to get the adrenaline pumping? Try rafting on the stunning Merced River, or tackle some of Yosemite’s famous rock climbing, which ranges from easy ascents to the sheer face of El Capitan. In the colder months, strap on snow shoes or cross-country skis - Yosemite is beautiful all year round, and snow and ice bring a new drama to its mountains and forests.