5 tips (and a bonus) for the first time Yosemite traveler!

So you’re getting ready for your first trip to Yosemite. How exciting! Yosemite is one of those places that you will never forget during your lifetime. Planning a trip can be very overwhelming, especially to a place that is as large as Yosemite and has so many sights to see. There’s also a great chance of losing cell service so you want to have a game plan before entering the park. Which is why I compiled a list of some tips that I learned during my travels that will help you get the most out of your visit and will help take some of the guess work out for you.

 

Enter from the Southside entrance

Before entering the park you’ll come across the town of Oakhurst. Hitting up the town before you head into the park will give you the chance to stock up on all your supplies. There is a large grocery store, perfect for grabbing those last minute snacks and supplies. There are also some restaurants and fast food chains for a quick bite to eat. You can also stop at the gas stations and top off your tank for a cheaper price than you’d find in the park.

To check out a GoogleMaps ping of Oakhurst click HERE

Don’t drive past all the pullovers 

So many people head straight for Tunnel View and Yosemite Valley but by missing all the pullovers you’re missing some of the BEST views. Unfortunately, none of the pullovers are numbered or identified in anyway but trust me, you won’t regret taking the extra time. Some of the pullovers even have little paths that you can take to some extra scenic sights and because most people DON’T pull over you’ll find that you can really experience Yosemite in a serene way.

Yosemite Elopement Photographer standing on rock with Yosemite National Park in the background

Take advantage of the shuttle buses 

Parking can be very difficult, especially during peak season, so take advantage of the bus system that the park provides. The shuttle system runs on a continuous loop and it’s about 10-20 minutes between each shuttle. If you really don’t want to use the shuttle system then I suggest waking up nice and early to beat the rush of vehicles. Many of the popular spots are within walking distance to one another such as Bridal Veil Falls, El Cap and the Meadow fields. I would suggest that while in a highly condensed area such as that you find a parking spot and then walk to all the other attractions in that immediate area before pulling out and losing your spot.

Check out the shuttle system by clicking HERE

Know where your bathroom stops are 

Your bladder will thank me. If you see a bathroom spot and don’t think you have to go. Just stop and go. Glacier Point Pass is the first stop you’ll come if you enter from the Southside and from there you can head to Bridal Veil Falls (you’ll smell it before you even see it), and the Meadow area and find a place to relieve yourself.

Be ready for all kinds of weather 

You checked the weather and it says it’ll be 80 degrees and sunny…well I wouldn’t bank on that completely. The weather in Yosemite moves in and out super quick and with all the elevation changes you can expect varying temperatures and atmospheric changes. Dressing in layers is the best idea. My personal wardrobe consisted of a jacket, zip up fleece, long sleeve shirt, t-shirt, leggings, high socks, and hiking boots. At some points I had every single layer on and at other points only my jacket and fleece were off. Don’t underestimate the powers of Mother Nature.

Fog covering the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park

Plan your hikes ahead of time

One of the biggest draws to Yosemite definitely includes all the variety of hikes it has to offer. There is definitely something for everyone, whether you want a casual stroll or a strenuous activity to push your physical limits. Regardless of what you want to do make sure to take the time to plan out what hikes you want to do, when, and then plan everything else you want to see/do around those hikes. There are a few websites I found in my search that I used during my trip to Yosemite and are pretty true to form and would highly recommend referencing to.

To check out the resources I used click HERE

Viewpoint of El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridal Veil Falls from Inspiration Point hike in Yosemite National Park

BONUS: Have a vehicle with 4 wheel drive

If you’re going at any point of the year where snow/hail/sleet could even be a small occurrence don’t try and play your own cards and take chances. If there’s snow in the park the Rangers will only let vehicles through that are 4×4 OR have chains on the tires. Yes, you can buy/rent chains at each entrance but only until they run out and then you have to put them on yourself. Save all the hassle and just rent a 4×4 vehicle.

 

Hopefully some of this information will help make planning your Yosemite trip a little easier! If you do end up using anything I recommended please let me know, I’d love to hear all about your adventure!

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