Yosemite National Park
IF YOU GO
Seven-day pass if entering via: ( currently, due to COVID restrictions, you must make a reservation on recreation.gov to enter Yosemite. There is an additional $2 reservation fee)
Non-commercial car, pickup truck, RV, or van with 15 or fewer passenger seats
$35 per vehicle (no per-person fee)
$30 per motorcycle (no per-person fee)
Foot, bicycle, horse, or non-commercial bus or van with more than 15 passenger seats
$20 per person aged 16 or older
(fee waivers may be available for curriculum-based educational trips)
A rainbow at Yosemite National Park- Nushin Huq
By Nushin Huq
Yosemite National Park has been a family favorite for generations of park visitors. Giant sequoias amaze young and old. The valley is still awe inspiring. There is something for everyone at this National Park. Needless to say, it's a very popular park, so it's important to plan your trip ahead of time.
WHAT TO SEE
There is so much to explore at Yosemite. There are majestic waterfalls, a sequoia grove, valleys and meadows. Families can enjoy hikes to view wildlife or watch climbers from all over the world make their way up El Capitan.
WHERE TO STAY
There are seven lodging facilities in Yosemite, four of which are within Yosemite Valley. One of these is the Ahwahnee Hotel, which is one of the most famous hotels in the National Park System. Outside of the valley, Wawona Hotel, is another famous hotel.
All of the lodgings are extremely popular, so book as early as possible, even a year in advance if you can. Hotels within the park are operated by Aramark and you can book through https://www.travelyosemite.com.
Reservations for the reservable campsites can be made at six months in advance. Camp 4 is the only campsite that is walk up only.
WHERE TO EAT
There is a range of eating options in the park- from groceries and carry out to fine dining. If you do opt for fine dining, note NPS recommendation: Dining reservations are available 366 days in advance for The Ahwahnee Dining Room, the Mountain Room, Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, and White Wolf Lodge and are recommended, especially from spring through fall and during holidays.
BEST HIKES FOR FAMILIES
Yosemite has over 800 miles of hiking trails, and there is something for everyone. Talk with the rangers before you head out as trail conditions may vary.
Take advantage of the Yosemite shuttle to get to different parts of the park.
In the Yosemite valley, a couple of easy trails are Bridaveil Fall and Cook's Meadow Loop. Bridaveil Fall is 0.5 mile paved loop to the base of Bridaveil Falls. Cook's Meadow Loop is an easy 1 mile loop with views of Half Dome.
In the Wawona area, hike a little over a mile and a half on Grizzly Giant to see the biggest sequoia (trail located by Mariposa Grove Parking). To get the classic photo-op of Yosemite Valley, hike 2.6 miles along Inspiration Point.
Near White Wolf Lodge, another easy trail is the Lukens Lake trail. From the trail to the lake is only 1.6 miles.
BEST TIPS FOR KIDS
Yosemite is a great vacation for families. There are so many relatively easy trails to hike, waterfalls and creeks to discover as well as the marvelous giant sequoias.
Like most national parks, Yosemite has a junior ranger program. There is also a "little cubs" program aimed at ages 3-6. The program books aren't free at Yosemite and can be purchased at the visitor centers.
Other fun family activities include horseback riding and rafting. These cost additional money buy provide a different vantage point to explore the park.