Must-see & do Attractions in Yosemite
Yosemite is full of fun things to see and do, but if you don’t have time to do everything on your list, consider this list of must see attractions.
1. Yosemite National Park: Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.
First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.
2. Yosemite Falls: Yosemite is home to countless waterfalls. The best time to see waterfalls is during spring, when most of the snowmelt occurs. Peak runoff typically occurs in May or June, with some waterfalls (including Yosemite Falls) often only a trickle or completely dry by August. Storms in late fall rejuvenate some of the waterfalls and all of them accumulate frost along their edges many nights during the winter.
This is not a complete list of Yosemite’s waterfalls. While all but the last two of the waterfalls listed below are in Yosemite Valley, both Yosemite Valley and many other areas of the park have waterfalls both big and small.
3. Glacier Point: Glacier Point, an overlook with a commanding view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Yosemite’s high country, is accessible by car from approximately late May through October or November. From mid-December through March, cross-country skiers can experience this view after skiing 10.5 miles.
From the Glacier Point parking and tour unloading area, a short, paved, wheelchair-accessible trail takes you to an exhilarating (some might say unnerving) point 3,214 feet above Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village), on the floor of Yosemite Valley.
4. Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad: The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad is a fun-filled excursion for the entire family, located only 10 minutes from the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park off of Highway 41. The historic railroad offers train rides, gold panning, an on-site rail museum, and a fun gifts & collectibles store. Open April through October.
5. Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias: Located in the southern portion of Yosemite, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite and is home to over 500 mature giant sequoias. The national park idea is rooted in the Mariposa Grove. In 1864 President Lincoln signed legislation protecting the Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley for “public use, resort, and recreation.” This landmark legislation holds an important place in our country’s history and was enacted at a time when the nation was embroiled in the Civil War. For the first time in our nation’s history, the federal government set aside scenic natural areas to be protected for the benefit of future generations. Later added to Yosemite National Park in 1906, the Mariposa Grove is a popular destination within the park.
The Mariposa Grove closed in spring 2015 for a large-scale restoration project that was formalized through the Mariposa Grove Restoration Project Final Environmental Impact Statement. The two primary goals of this project were to improve giant sequoia habitat and improve visitor experience. This included addressing the declining conditions of the grove and nearby South Entrance that were adversely affecting the ecological health of the sequoias (e.g., roads, trails and other buildings encroaching on roots of the ancient trees, hydrology issues). The Mariposa Grove reopened on June 15, 2018.
Through this project, the Mariposa Grove was designed to accommodate a certain number of people in order to maintain the facilities, protect natural and cultural resources, and provide a quality visitor experience. We will be carefully monitoring the grove to evaluate how the new services are operating.
6. Yosemite Trails Saddle & Sleigh Company: One and two hour horseback trail rides depart daily or join us for our exclusive day ride to Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove. What better way to get a glimpse into Yosemite’s past than to visit these 2,000 year old redwood trees the way John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt did, from the back of a good horse.
For those of you planning to visit Yosemite during the winter months, we offer authentic horse drawn sleigh rides pulled by Belgian Draft Horses complete with jingle bells. This is truly a unique experience for the whole family.