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Yosemite Area

If you don't like camping, hiking or riding, chances are you will only want to see pictures of the Yosemite area rather than visit Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is no vacation for beach bums or anyone looking for a siesta-style getaway. To see most of the worthwhile attractions in the Yosemite area, you have to exert yourself. You must hike up to Glacier Point, which offers a spectacular sunset and a panoramic view of the Yosemite area. You may want to tackle El Capitan – a gigantic rock formation that many avid climbers find challenging. You can also test your mountain goat skills at Cathedral Range, which is a 7 km ridge that is popular amongst hikers for the spectacular view it offers. ... Read more »

If you want to avoid the wear and tear on your feet, you can arrange a Yosemite Mule and horseback ride to tour the Yosemite area at a leisurely pace and let someone else do the walking. Serene and dignified Yosemite Cemetery is also a notable landmark, and you will want to browse the Yosemite Museum Gallery to enjoy a little indoor time for a change.

Yosemite Area Top 10

10. Many tourists who visit Yosemite area enjoy Bridalveil Falls even more than the renowned Yosemite Falls.

5. Crane Flat is a quaint little meadow close to the Tuolumne meadow and Merced groves where you may see a few black bears.

9. If you want to see the giant sequoia trees for which the Yosemite area is famous, you really must go to Mariposa Grove. You can hike there or take a nice lazy tram ride.

4. Tuolumne Meadows are in a lesser-known section of Yosemite Park. If you want to have a relaxing hike and get away from the packs of tourists, you should check out the trails there.

8. The Half Dome vista point is often difficult for visitors to adequately describe, but they all say that the amazing view at the top is well worth the strenuous hike up this enormous rock formation.

3. Wawona is a historical centre at Yosemite with a lovely covered bridge and historic buildings.

7. Sentinel Dome offers an easier hike for those who want a lovely view of the park and waterfalls but are not enthused with the Half Dome hike or permit fees.

2. O Yosemite Falls are among the top five tallest waterfalls on the globe, and they complete the Yosemite area tableau as a breathtaking centrepiece.

6. Hetch Hetchy Valley is a lovely piece of land adjacent to the Yosemite area with waterfalls and hiking trails.

1. Yosemite Valley is, of course, the reason why people got to the Yosemite area in the first place. Anyone who enjoys the outdoors is sure to love the giant sequoias, mountain views and heavenly waterfalls.

Yosemite Area History

  • Ahwahnee Hotel – This hotel opened in 1927 and is an excellent example of the National Park Service's rustic architecture.
  • Camp 4 – Campground that is known as a hangout for famous rock climbers and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • LeConte Memorial Lodge – A national landmark, this was the first Yosemite public visitor centre.
  • Yosemite Cemetery – The resting place of Native Americans and people who played an important role in the development of Yosemite.
  • Wawona Hotel – This hotel dates back to the 19th century and contains the Pioneer Yosemite History Centre.

Yosemite Area Art & Culture

  • Yosemite Museum – Founded by Ansel Franklin Hall, this museum focuses on the culture and heritage of the Ahwaneechee people.
  • Ansel Adams Gallery – Contains a wide selection of works by Ansel Adams and other photographers and artists, as well as a collection of handicrafts..
  • Yosemite Valley Visitor Centre – Learn all about wildlife and how people have interacted with the park throughout time..
  • Camp Curry – Established in 1899 by the Curry family, this is a historical accommodation option..
  • Yosemite Village – The main developed area around features shed-style architecture.

Yosemite Area Shopping

  • Ahwahnee Gift Shop – Offers a collection of Ahwahnee custom china and other Yosemite-inspired giftware.
  • Village Store – A good spot for souvenirs, sweatshirts, T-shirts and knick knacks.
  • The Nature Shop – Perfect for those who love nature, offering nature-inspired gifts and items.
  • Glacier Point Gift Shop – Pick up hiking essentials, toys, gifts and apparel.
  • Yosemite Art Centre – Offers a wide range of art supplies, as well as free art classes.

Gay & Lesbian Yosemite Area

  • Moonlight Tour – Take a nighttime hike through the valley to see how the park transforms in moonlight.
  • Awahnee Bar – This bar offers both food and drinks and includes a lounge area with a large fireplace.
  • Yosemite Theatre – Offers exception evening programs, although it is only open in the summer.
  • Iron Door Salon – This is the spot for music and provides special concerts and live music each weekend.
  • Mountain Room Bar & Lounge – Enjoy a drink or beer without having to order dinner; savor a view of Yosemite Falls from the patio.

Yosemite Area Outdoor

  • Nature Centre at Happy Isles – A family-oriented nature centre with many interactive displays and natural history exhibits.
  • Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias – Drive one hour south of Yosemite and visit this large grove of sequoias.
  • Glacier Point – Drive and then walk to Glacier Point to view gorgeous panoramas of Yosemite Valley, the High Sierras and the Half Dome.
  • Horsetail Fall – Arrive at sunset in February and this waterfall appears to be on fire.
  • Half Dome – Standing almost 5,000 feet above the valley floor, this is the most recognized symbol of Yosemite.

Yosemite Area Sport

  • Expert rock climbers can attempt to climb El Capitan.
  • Raft down the Merced River in Yosemite.
  • During the winter, enjoy downhill skiing at Badger Pass Ski Area.
  • Hike any of the five sections of the park, including Crane Flat/White Wolf, Hetch Hetchy and Tuolumne Meadows.
  • Spend the morning fishing in the Tuolomne River or other creeks and lakes.

Yosemite Area Events

The Art Hop takes place in January, April, July and October in the town of in Merced, which is in the western part of the Yosemite area.

Yosemite Kennel Club Dog Show is an all-breed show in the Yosemite area held at the Merced fairgrounds in April.

The Mountain Heritage Days celebration is an annual event in September that starts with a pancake breakfast and includes food booths, quilt shows, live bands, a sluice box derby, a parade, and games and rides for the kids. It is held in Oakhurst near the Yosemite area.

The Heartland Festival brings plenty of music, arts and crafts, gardening demonstrations and family activities to the Yosemite area in May.

Yosemite Star Party is a stargazing event held at Glacier Point in July

If you are visiting the Yosemite area in June, take the kids to the Merced County Fair, an old-fashioned carnival with rides, arts and crafts, games and food booths.

SummerFest in theYosemite area is a really good time for those who visit in August and September. There are many vendors selling arts and crafts in downtown Merced, and numerous activities are planned for the festival, including live entertainment, food and wine tasting, and more.

The Hot Summer Nights Car Show in Danville allows people in the Yosemite area to see beautifully restored and maintained classic cars and hot-rods from 1976 and earlier. The shows are scheduled in August and September.

Santa Claus visits the Yosemite area early on his float at the City of Merced Annual Christmas Parade that takes place in December.

Hmong New Year Celebration is an ancient tradition from China that is shared by the Hmong people with everyone else in the Yosemite area. It kicks off in December with a number of traditional Hmong activities, craft and food booths, and live entertainment.

When To Go

The seasonal weather can change very rapidly and drastically in the Yosemite area. Summers are dry for the most part, but there are thunderstorms that roll in rapidly at times.

Summer high temperatures range from the 50s (10°C) to the high 80s/low 90s (30°C). Winter days can be as cold as 20°F (0 to -4°C) or as warm as 60°F (16°C). Spring and fall bring a variety of temperatures and weather conditions, so it is best to pack a range of clothing to accommodate the temperature swings.

Precipitation in the Yosemite area can be in the form of either rain or snow, depending on the altitude and season, but the winter months have the most accumulation.

Getting There

If you are driving from the west or northwest, you will use RT 120. Western travellers can also use RT 140, and this is a better road for those driving large RVs, trailers or campers. If you come from the north, you will use RT 41. Tioga Pass Road, which is the Eastern RT 120, is the highway that Eastern visitors will use to get into the Yosemite area.

For those who are flying into the Yosemite area, Fresno-Yosemite International airport is a 90-minute drive on Highway 41. Merced and Modesto airports are both two hours away.

You can use Amtrak train or tour buses to get to the Yosemite area as well. A shuttle bus meets train passengers at the Merced station to complete the journey.

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BEST WESTERN PLUS Yosemite Way Station Motel
Reviewer score
0
out of 50 Reviews
4999 Highway 140 Mariposa CA 95338

Offering friendly service, relaxing atmosphere and comfortable accommodation, BEST WESTERN PLUS Yosemite Way Station M... More hotel details

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Days Inn Chowchilla Gateway to Yosemite
Reviewer score
3.2
out of 51 Reviews
220 East Robertson Boulevard Highway 99 & Highway 152 Chowchilla Yosemite Area CA 93610

Experience the best hospitality along with contemporary service, pleasant ambience and convenient facilities at Days I... More hotel details

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