How to Beat the Crowds in Yosemite National Park

How to Avoid the Crowds in Yosemite

World-renowned Yosemite National Park is understandably crowded, especially in the summer, with August typically the busiest month. Easily accessed from San Francisco, the beloved park includes landmarks such as El Capitan, Half Dome and Glacier Point and tons of stellar photo ops. No wonder thousands of people, from families to luxury travelers, come from all over the world to visit Yosemite.

So how do you beat the crowds in Yosemite? Why not consider a private tour led by experts who know the park inside and out?

Whether on your own or on a public or private tour, or drive yourself, here are a few trips to escape battling crowds:

Go in Winter

Apparently the entire world got the memo to visit Yosemite from June to October. The park is much less crowded in late fall and winter. Of course, this requires a different mindset. Obviously you must dress warmly, and vehicles need chains.

Yes, it’s cold and snowy. And absolutely stunning.

Those who are adventurous enough to visit the park in the winter can enjoy an unobstructed vista at Tunnel View. And wintertime offers the best photos because of the unusual cloud formations. In the summer the sun is virtually always shining with no clouds, and everyone’s photos can look the same.

Half Dome in Winter

Go early

Most people arrive at Yosemite National Park near lunchtime, particularly the large tours from San Francisco, which bring busloads of people. On holidays, such as Memorial Day or Labor Day, the parking lot in the Valley is full by 9:30 a.m.

By arriving early, you will guarantee yourself a parking space, and you can hit the trails before the crowds arrive.

Explore the less frequented spots, such as Yosemite’s high country.

The most famous landmarks are not the only beautiful spots in Yosemite. Many of the crowded tour buses avoid the high country, which offers such amazing sights as Pothole Dome, Siesta Lake and Tuolumne Meadows and many more vistas worth seeing.

In the high country, you’ll find way fewer people on the trails, which makes hiking more enjoyable.

Whenever or however you visit Yosemite National Park, your aim is to see and enjoy the natural wonders of it, not the other people who are there for the same reason. So find a way to beat the crowds.