Yosemite National Park spans nearly 750,000 acres of wilderness in California, with the vast majority of visitors staying in the seven square miles of Yosemite Valley. With over 95% of the National Park being classed as wilderness it is an important area for wildlife and botanical conservation. Being granted World Heritage Site status in 1984 Yosemite draws 4 million visitors a year who are drawn to the natural landscape characterized by granite cliffs, towering waterfalls and giant sequoia groves making it an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.
What you need to know....
Accommodation – The range of accommodation is limited due to the isolated location of the main Yosemite Valley, with the majority of visitors opting for one of the main camping options available. Campervan or RV pitches are also popular. Camping fees range from $6 per night to $26 per night for family pitch and $50 per night for group pitch. Canvas heated tents are also available but not all year round with a 2 person double with a shared bathroom ranging from $100-150. There are some traditional hotels within the valley but availability can be limited during peak season and they tend to be expensive. With a double room ensuite setting you back at least $400 per night during the season. There are other hotels outside of the main valley which are more reasonable with a nightly price of around $200.
Food – Again due to the isolated location restaurant and supermarket availability is limited, especially as some restaurants close outside of the main season. A good option is to bring the majority of your food into the park but you must make sure you have appropriate storage (anti bear lockers) as food left out could attract wildlife so make sure you follow the guidelines set out by the National Park Service.
Transportation costs – With only one main ring road accessing the main valley cars and buses are the main transportation options in and out of the park. An entrance fee does apply when entering the park with a 7 day pass per vehicle ranging from $25-$30 depending on the time of year. If you’re driving into the valley for the day make sure you arrive early to make parking easier as spaces are limited. A free Yosemite shuttle bus does run to various sites around the valley but make sure they are running as some routes close during the winter.
Safety – The risk from other humans is very limited in Yosemite with most of the people who visit being very laid back and wanting to escape the busy city life. However care does have to be taken if venturing into the wilderness or in bad weather. Always make sure you have a map and know where you’re going and have enough food, water and clothing as the weather can turn very quickly. There is also a real danger from the local wildlife with bears and snakes being local residents , so follow the National Park guidelines when it comes to food storage and wildlife safety.