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I don't go to Yosemite Valley in the summer any more - the crowds and traffic are insane. I prefer to visit between October and April.

But if you're going, aim for mid-week. Even then there can be traffic jams and lines of cars waiting to park in parking lots. So if you're staying in the Valley, try to walk, ride or shuttle bus to places.

Accommodations (hotels, campgrounds, tent cabins) during summer in the Valley book up months in advance. You'll be unlikely to find anything this late in the game, so staying outside the Valley is probably your only option (you might find an opening from a last minute cancellation). Your best bet in that case is camping or staying outside the Valley. I've always liked Yosemite Bug Resort - affordable, fun place to stay with many different options.

Hikes in the Valley: Mist Trail, Yosemite Falls, Four Mile Trail are the big ones.

So maybe you spend one day in the Valley checking out the falls and doing one of those hikes and stay outside the Valley.

Tuolumne Meadows is an amazing part of Yose and sees far fewer crowds. Still covered in snow now and will have a lot of snow in the passes and high trails over the next month. August might be best for Tuolumne Meadows. Hetch Hetchy also sees far fewer people.

There are some first-come/served camping options in the park - the NPS Yose website discusses all that. Generally requires getting to the ranger station in early morning and waiting for them to open.

Lastly and probably most importantly if you are hiking: creeks will be running really high and fast over the next several weeks (months?). Some will be impassable so checking with the ranger is a good idea. And just because a creek looks smooth doesn't mean it isn't fast moving. And if you're camping: everything the rangers tell you about bears is true - properly store your food.

Have fun. It's an amazing place.
 

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Was there over memorial day weekend. Still a good time but we got the gamut of weather conditions going from rain/sleet/snow to a little sunshine. LIke I heard another visitor say, any day in Yosemite is a good day.

If you stay outside the park, I can't stress enough 2 important tips:
#1: Be there EARLY
#2: Bring your bikes. Don't rely on the shuttles that have become increasingly packed and unreliable (there was an article in the SF chronicle just about that)

Right now, the waterfalls are just off the hook. And probably will be for several weeks. Our family's favorite is doing the Mist Trail up to the top of Vernal or even the top of Nevada Fall if everyone is fit enough. If you get there early, you'll avoid the tour buses crowd and the Mist trail going up won't be too bad. To get back down, use the John Muir Trail. Makes a nice loop and a decent half-day hike.

Other favorites are to go around Mirror Lake, It's a shorter hike but there are tons of big boulders on the trail that my kids love to climb on.
 

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Solid advice here. Other thoughts:

Make a reservation to hike out the Mist or Muir trail and ascend Half Dome via the cables. It's a big day, but an unforgettable experience, and unique even for Yo. Clear weather only. Hit it way early to avoid the conga line on the cables.

Mariposa Grove has some massive old-growth redwoods.

If you stay in the Valley, park your car and travel by bike only. You can get anywhere you'll want to go, all the way down to El Cap meadow. Bikes are not allowed off pavement. Bike the path loop past Mirror Lake and Indian Caves.

Picnic in El Cap meadow, gawk at the life forms called climbers festering around the bridge and on the walls.

Buy a National Parks Pass in advance to keep the line moving at the entry kiosks.

Take bear warnings seriously and don't underestimate what a bear or squirrel will do to get your food.

Get up early and walk around the Awhanee Hotel (or whatever TF they falsely renamed it). Go up to the second floor and have some free coffee. Best bathrooms in YV.

Hang out by the river just about anywhere, like near Yellow Pines CG where few go.

Avoiding crowds is the main MO. Did I mention getting up early?


PS: Take a climbing class with YMS and get on the stone? When in Rome...
 

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About $30. They gate the road around White Wolf I think, but might have a few places that can be gated. Of course you could avoid the crowds and entrance fee by going over to the quite side.
 

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It's closed to bikes and cars now. Per the latest update, the road is mostly plowed but it is not open to the public yet and there is avalanche risk still at Olmstead Point. The road is closed at Tuolumne Grove TH a few miles from the park entrance on 120. Just before the road opens to cars in spring, the park opens it to bikes only (it's an amazing ride without cars).

What's the entrance fee these days?

And how high can one go up that road while Tioga Pass is still closed?
 

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Lifetime backpacker so know yosemite well----if you are going to the valley look at taking the bus to glacier point and then hiking the panaramic trail to vernal/nervada falls----and then back to the valley on the john muir----doable in a day and the falls will be epic after these warmer days-----the advantage of this route is the bus takes you way up and you avoid the nasty crowds on the john muir at east on the way up there. I do not know if yu need a reservation for the bus

But note the valley is a zoo/
 

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My rule is don't go from Memorial Weekend through Labor Day unless I can be parked by 8 am and don't have to leave until 7 pm, but if you do go a couple underrated, under-the-radar places are the climbers trail to the base of El Cap (15 minutesish each way, real easy) and the old Sierra Point trail (hourish each way, decent hike with a couple spots of exposure but not too crazy, good beta online). Also, if you have Netflix, watch The Dawn Wall to get in the mood. Waaay better than Free Solo (which was also great, but not as great, imo (though Dawn Wall does have a bit of a heavy section; might want to vet it for the kids)).

Looking up from the base of El Cap:


Vernal Falls from Sierra Point:
 

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We went in April and it was perfect. Can't imagine wanting to go in summer.

We stayed at evergreen lodge, super nice if you have kids. I know its not the same as being in park, but if you are looking for some veg time where the kids can keep themselves occupied, its awesome.
 

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Were there in April. Beautiful and falls were off the hook! Took 2.5 hours to drive from Half Dome Village to El Capitan Meadow (5 miles).

It was a Sunday, but that is completely insane!



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