2024 Yosemite National Park Travel Guide

Yosemite National Park is the crown jewel of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. An alpine wonderland filled with some of the best hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing in America.

But without proper planning, it’s easy to miss out. Yosemite: The Complete Guide puts the best of Yosemite National Park at your fingertips, helping you plan the perfect trip.

Yosemite: The Complete Guide

Discover the Best of Yosemite National Park

Five Stars

The #1 guidebook to Yosemite.

Yosemite Travel Tips

Best Times to Visit Yosemite National Park

Best Times to Visit

Knowing when to go will help you plan the perfect trip. Discover the best months to visit for roaring waterfalls and great weather.

How to avoid the crowds in Yosemite

How to Avoid the Crowds

Even during peak season, it’s easy to escape the crowds in Yosemite with these simple tips.

Yosemite National Park Lodging Guide

Yosemite Hotels

Discover the best hotels and historic lodges, both in the park and nearby towns.

Yosemite National Park Camping Guide

Yosemite Camping

Complete camping guide to all Yosemite campgrounds. Learn about permits, reservations, and first-come, first-served campsites.

Camping Near Yosemite National Park

Camping Near Yosemite

Complete guide to the terrific campgrounds located just outside Yosemite, including lakeside and riverside campsites.

Yosemite Valley's Best Hikes

Yosemite Hiking

Yosemite has some of the best hikes in California — and these are the best hikes in Yosemite.

Yosemite National Park Geology

Yosemite Geology

Learn about the powerful geologic forces that created one of North America’s most incredible sights.

Introduction to Yosemite National Park

Adapted from Yosemite: The Complete Guide

Nestled deep in the heart of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite is one of America’s most spectacular national parks. Its scenery is bursting with superlatives: the highest waterfall in North America (Yosemite Falls), the most famous vertical rock face in the world (El Capitan), the largest organisms of all time (giant sequoias).

But no statistic can ever capture Yosemite’s beauty. The park’s sheer cliffs and thousand-foot waterfalls have inspired some of America’s finest artists, and they lure millions of visitors from around the world.

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley is the crown jewel of the park. Just seven miles long by one mile wide, it represents less than 1% of the park’s 1,200 square miles. But concentrated among the Valley’s forests, meadows and cliffs are some of the world’s most remarkable natural features — Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls. Not surprisingly, Yosemite Valley is the most popular part of the park, and it’s home to the vast majority of Yosemite’s lodges and campgrounds.

High Sierra

Above Yosemite Valley lies the High Sierra, a stunning alpine wilderness of shimmering lakes, snow-capped peaks, and oceans of sparkling granite. Reached via Tioga Road — the only east/west road that crosses the park — the High Sierra is an outdoor paradise for hikers, backpackers, and rock climbers. Tuolumne Meadows, lying at an elevation of 8,600 feet, is the High Sierra’s unofficial headquarters and the starting point for half a dozen spectacular hikes.

The park’s southern tip is home to Wawona, famous for its proximity to the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias (the largest of the park’s three sequoia groves). Twenty miles north of Yosemite Valley lies Hetch Hetchy — once a beautiful valley, now a massive reservoir. Although its waterfalls are impressive in the spring, Hetch Hetchy is interesting mainly for the famous environmental battle it spawned nearly a century ago.


Yosemite Valley was first settled by the Ahwahneechee Indians. Following the Gold Rush, adventurous artists sought out the remote mountain valley, and their dramatic paintings and photographs made Yosemite famous around the world. John Muir arrived in 1868, and his writings helped spur the creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890. In 1916 Ansel Adams made his first trip to the park, and starting in the 1930s, rock climbers pioneered advanced techniques in Yosemite that are now used throughout the world.

Today Yosemite’s breathtaking cliffs, peaks, and waterfalls lure over four million visitors a year.

Yosemite: The Complete Guide

Discover the best of Yosemite National Park

The #1 Yosemite guidebook.