For many people, Yosemite is at the top of their bucket list. Most visitors think that the only time of year to visit Yosemite is the summer, and while that might be the best weather, it’s not the only time of year to go there. While the weather is a little bit colder, Fall in Yosemite means sunshine, fewer crowds, leaves in fall colors, and lots of professional climbers.
If you’re ready to say yes to Yosemite this fall, check out this sample itinerary to inspire your travel plans.
Day 1: Arrive and Settle In
On your first day in Yosemite, you’ll want to take a little time to get checked in to where you’re staying, see the nearby amenities, find a favorite restaurant, and unpack. During your visit to Yosemite, you can stay in a local hotel, such as the Yosemite Valley Lodge or Wawona Hotel or you can book a site for camping.
Settle in and Explore
Traveling is not easy. Whether you’re driving or flying, it can take a lot of time and energy to get from home to where you’re going. Once you’ve arrived in Yosemite, take some to get to your room, change your clothes, and unpack some of your stuff. Once you’ve settled into your space, you can head out to explore. There’s a lot to do in and around Yosemite, so driving around and getting your bearings is a great way to start your trip.
Take in the Sunset
If you’re out and about at sunset, find the turn-off at Glacier Point Road for the perfect sunset viewing spot. You’ll get to watch as the sun sets over the Yosemite Valley and puts on a spectacular show. After the sun goes down, it’s time to get some shut-eye, so you’re rested and ready for your first full day in Yosemite.
Day 2: Get to Know Yosemite
On your first full day in Yosemite, you can take it easy and spend some time getting to know the area. Start with a delicious breakfast, take a tour of the park and end the day with dinner in one the most spectacular dining rooms.
Breakfast at Base Camp Eatery
First things first is always breakfast. Hop on the shuttle and go to stop #8 for breakfast at the Base Camp Eatery. At the restaurant, you’ll find hot food such as breakfast burritos, french toast, or grab-and-go options in case you’re in a hurry to get on with your day. This is also a great place to get your coffee, as it serves Starbucks.
Hit the Trail or Take the Valley Floor Tour
One of the best ways to get to know Yosemite is by taking the Valley Floor Tour. During the two-hour tour, you’ll get to see all of the highlights of Yosemite while getting narration from a park ranger and naturalist.
If you’d like to see Yosemite on foot instead of on a tram tour, you can take a custom guided hike. There are plenty of hiking options throughout the park, including trails for every skill level. Before you head off on a hike, be sure to get the supplies you need, such as food, snacks, and water from the Curry Village Gift & Grocery.
Dine in Style
After a long first day, you deserve to dine in style. Head over to The Mountain Room for your dinner reservation. The dining room features striking views of the 2,424 foot high Yosemite Falls and amazing artwork from the famous Ansel Adams.
Day 3: Fall in Love With Yosemite
Once you’ve had some time to get to know Yosemite, your second day is your chance to truly fall in love with all that it has to offer.
Make sure to start your morning off right with a filling breakfast from either Degnan’s Kitchen or the Base Camp Eatery. Degnan’s Kitchen has hot breakfast items, pastries, baked goods, and freshly made espresso and coffee drinks.
Explore Fall Color in Yosemite on Two Wheels
While summer is the peak season in Yosemite, it doesn’t mean the park won’t put on its best fall colors in autumn. The maple, dogwood, aspen, and oak trees all adorn themselves with seasonal hues in the fall and shouldn’t be missed. Instead of driving through the park, rent a bike from the Village Store and enjoy 12 miles of designated bike paths.
Walk Among Giants
Another must-do in Yosemite is a visit to the giant sequoias. There are a few groves throughout Yosemite, but you’re sure to want to see the Mariposa Grove. No matter your ability, there’s a trail for you to get out and enjoy the trees. Take the wheelchair-accessible Big Trees Loop Trail which is 0.3 miles or spend a little more time in the grove and hike the 2.1-mile Grizzly Giant Loop Trail.
End the Day with Spectacular Night Skies
Take a moment at the end of your day to enjoy the beautiful Yosemite night skies. You can simply do this yourself by spending some time under the stars or checking out one of the night programs. Starry Night Skies over Yosemite is a guided walking tour of the Yosemite night sky where you can learn the heavens, the moon, the Milky Way galaxy, meteors, constellations, comets, and all the folklore that follows.
Day 4: Departure
On your final day in Yosemite, it’s your chance to do anything you missed or go back and see your favorite spot a second time. Whether you’re off to the airport or getting in the car to continue a road trip, take a moment on your day of departure to simply enjoy nature. Whether it’s just a short walk near your hotel or campsite or you drive into the park and get out at a scenic lookout, stretch your legs, and feel the awe that nature inspires one more time.
Yosemite National Park has so much to offer, no matter what time of year you get to visit. Most people think of visiting Yosemite in the summer, but fall is also a fantastic time of year. Most things are still open before the snows arrive, and the weather stays sunny and warm during the day.