While many travelers already know what they are going to need when they visit, sometimes it can be useful to find out what locals say about what certain items and times of the year will serve you best for your trip.
Here is a list that might just help you be the most prepared for your visit:

When to visit:

While most folks don't have the luxury of deciding when to travel, there still are certain times of the year that are best. In addition, rates are usually lower during these times.

Spring - late March through May
We feel this is the best time for travel here. Not only are there way fewer visitors, but the weather is cooler, the streams and waterfalls are booming, wildflowers are out and the lower elevation oak woodlands are a gorgeous, giant and luxurious green pasture. Also, spring storms bring amazing weather in the valley, especially when a storm breaks. However, depending on the snow pack at the high country, the Tioga Pass Road is closed for much of the spring and usually all of the winter season. If you are planning to visit the high country, mid May through early June is best. Be sure to check for road conditions before travelling into the high country.

Wintertime - late December - February
The winter is magical here, with the landscape turned white, with many opportunities for skiing, skating and other fun snow play. Some of the most awe inspiring moments in the mountains are to be found when a winter storm breaks! Note that the route 41 access to the park is often closed during winter months. Use the Ca. 140 route through Mariposa for year round access to the valley floor. Tioga Pass road is usually closed during the winter months.


The earlier the better. During June, the waterfalls are stronger, the crowds are smaller and the weather cooler. All roads and trails are generally open.

What to bring:

Sturdy shoes, preferably hiking boots, with good treads, for hiking.
Hat for sun protection.
Long pants and socks for hiking in brush and where there might be poison oak
Sunscreen - many areas do not have shade
Insect repellent
A day pack for gear, an extra shirt or having a picnic while hiking
Binoculars - Even if you don't see any wildlife, watching those crazy rock climbers 1000s of feet up on El Capitan is darn interestin'!
Wildlife guide
For traveling during off season, winter/rain apparel.
Topographic maps and compass - just in case!
Bathing suit in summer
Some people enjoy having a walking stick

Planning your trip:

We suggest that you at least do some research before planning. Use the internet, books and/or this website. Find good maps to study. Internet maps are OK, but from our experience the most complete and accurate maps are the large printed ones we have found. Contact us if you want more information on locating good maps.
The longer you stay the better. If you decide to stay for two nights, you really only have one full day in the park, which is not quite enough time to do much exploring.
Three or four nights is a good minimum. This way, you will have time to not only explore Yosemite Valley but also the magnificent Tioga Pass road with all the superb landscapes, lakes, trails and streams - to be found in the Yosemite high country.
If you are travelling to or from Southern California, Las Vegas or Death Valley, consider approaching Yosemite from U.S. Route 395. This is one of the most scenic routes in the US and will allow you to explore out the towering peaks of the Eastern Sierra Nevada as well as hot springs, ancient native art, alpine lakes, a real ghost town, ancient bristlecone pines (the oldest natural living tree in the world!) and incredibly diverse natural landscapes!

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