Yosemite National Park

Half Dome is arguably the most iconic feature in Yosemite National Park. The 5,000 foot granite peak rises above the Valley floor in one dramatic sweep of sheer rock and the climb to the top is a goal for many people from all walks of life, from beginning climbers whose first wilderness experience is on Half Dome to the most experienced climbers in the world. The climb has been popular since 1919 when the Sierra Club developed a cable system that allows visitors without technical rock climbing ability to reach the summit and has only increased in popularity since. In 1984 Congress designated Half Dome as Wilderness, meaning that there is an expectation to maintain certain levels of "solitude" and "natural conditions."

The extreme popularity of the climb over the years has meant that these wilderness conditions have not been upheld. Indeed with so many climbers each day visitor safety is threatened. As a result Yosemite National Park has been studying ways to allow safe visitor access to Half Dome while preserving the natural conditions and lowering high encounter rates on the trail.  cAfter years of scientific study, Yosemite has released the Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan and Environmental Assessment which includes five alternatives that specifically provide a plan for the trail. NPCA supports Alternative C, the park’s preferred alternative, which allows for 300 daily permits for climbers to be allocated fairly between advance reservations and day-before allocation for both wilderness and day-use climbers.  The public also has the opportunity to weigh in on the plan until March 15, 2012. Once we have word about which plan has been selected, we will post the news here.

NPS has a interactive tool that uses pictures to show the trail in use and helps show how the different plans would influence the use of the trail. http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/hdp_flash.htm.

If You Go

Hetch Hetchy is an often overlooked portion of Yosemite. Perhaps that is due the interesting combination of features: wilderness with spectacular views, great trails, and waterfalls. Once considered a twin to Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy is regarded both as beautiful and controversial. After the erection of O'Shaughnessy Dam in 1923, Hetch Hetchy valley has since been submerged under water. The dam provides drinking water and hydroelectric power to the City of San Francisco.

Despite this, visitors should make the trip to Hetch Hetchy, which offers several hikes for people of all abilities. The shortest hike is to Wapama Falls, which comes highly recommended by a former NPCA employee, Laura Whitehouse. "The hike to Wapama Falls is fun, especially in the early spring after a wet winter," Whitehouse said. "You will experience a very invigorating shower from the mist of the falls." Hetch Hetchy's low elevation offers the longest hiking season in the park. In addition to hiking, Hetch Hetchy offers fishing, camping and swimming at nearby Lake Eleanor.

Glacier Point is one of the most spectacular views of the park. You can sit in the amphitheater and eat your lunch while admiring spectacular views of waterfalls and granite peaks. Be sure to bring binoculars: birders will enjoy the avian views while “looky-loos” will stare in awe at the brave rock climbers clinging to Half Dome.

Tuolumne Meadows offers a different view of Yosemite. Located in the heart of Yosemite's high country, Tuolumne Meadows is the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada. Its spectacular domes and peaks attract rock climbers from around the world. Tuolumne also offers several day hikes for various abilities at much cooler temperatures than Yosemite Valley.

The Yosemite Museum

A trip to Yosemite would not be complete without experiencing the cultural and historical features of the park. The Yosemite Museum showcases the cultural history of the Miwok and Paiute Native American tribes who once inhabited Yosemite. Be sure to visit Julia Parker inside the museum, a Kashaya Pomo and Coast Miwok American Indian and Cultural Specialist who practices traditional Paiute and Miwok basket weaving in the museum, while sharing stores and information on Native history and traditions. Seeing Julia's basket weaving work is worth the trip itself, as many of her pieces are housed in many collections, including that of the Queen of England.

—Lindsay Bartsh

Read More in NPCA's Park Advocate Blog

The ‘Outrageous Evil’ That Led to the Birth of the National Park Service

A painting of Hetch Hetchy Valley in 1870, before the area was flooded and dammed. Art by Albert Bierstadt.Today, the National Park Service celebrates its 99th birthday. Establishing an agency dedicated to the care of America’s national parks is one of our country’s most visionary accomplishments. The lands and landmarks our park rangers protect are among the world’s greatest wonders. Long before families loaded up station wagons to head to places like Grand […]

Waterfalls, Sesquicentinis, and Buffalo Soldiers

YOSE-JonArnoldImagesLtdAlamyOne June 30, 1864, Congress passed and President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act into law—a groundbreaking piece of legislation that provided the first-ever wild land protections in our country. The law protected two exquisite gems, Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley, which both eventually became part of Yosemite National Park. Initially, the state of […]

Boy Wonders

Owen and Zach Brunner at Yosemite National Park. Photo courtesy of the Brunner family.Remember when you were young and asked all of your friends not to bring gifts to your birthday party? Odds are you don’t, because to most grade-schoolers, forgoing presents is an almost unthinkable sacrifice. That’s not the case for two California brothers, Owen and Zach Brunner, age 10 and 7 respectively. Owen started a tradition […]


Funding Shortfalls

America's national parks suffer from a chronic, system-wide funding shortfall in excess of $800 million annually and Yosemite is no exception. Though this “crown jewel” offers a fantastic visitor experience, a lack of staff-power is waning Yosemite's ability to manage facilities and the natural resources within the 1,200 square mile park boundary. NPCA is working with federal legislators to provide Yosemite with the resources it needs to properly restore damaged habitats, repair trails, provide search and rescue, and look after campgrounds and facilities. In addition, NPCA is working to restore Yosemite's diminishing staff, which reduces the number of educational hikes and campfire programs offered by rangers-an essential part of the visitor experience.

Air Pollution

Air pollution is among the most serious threats to national parks. The National Park Service has established the NPS air quality webcam network to show “live” digital images of more than a dozen parks. Click here to see current air conditions at Yosemite National Park.








September 14, 2015

It was awesome, we biked under half dome and saw an incredible sight. I will never forget it!

willie parker

August 15, 2015

everything I read about Yosemite sounds good. We are going tomorrow August 15th for the first time. Hope its as good as I've heard.


November 29, 2014

It was breathtaking it was a beautiful land

Joe Rhoan

June 15, 2014

Let's get it right there was no Miwok History there,if anything the Miwoks led the Mariposa Battalion, and helped Savage remove the Yosemite Indians from the valley. Most the items displayed are from Mono Paiutes that lived within the valley; most of the baskets are Paiute and Yokut along with many of the pictures in the museum. While the casual visitor knows nothing about these discrepancies, the NPS of Yosemite would like you to think that Miwoks actually inhabited Yosemite.


May 30, 2014

We just spent an entire week camping in the valley. Even though it rained, it can't take away from the beauty and majesty! This was my third trip, and I'd go every year if I could! The dogwood were lovely, the killer hike to the top of Nevada Falls will be unforgettable (it was tough but so rewarding!), the views from Glacier Point made me cry with awe and wonder... And with so many people there, I was astonished that they were all so respectful! Very little litter, property damage or ill-will anywhere! So many people falling under the spell of Yosemite...such a beautiful thing to experience!


February 4, 2014

wow cool website


January 20, 2014

My grandson and I visited Yosemite in May 2013, and fell in love. I plan on going back this June, and spend more time in the park. It is one of the most beautiful wonders of nature I have seen.


January 11, 2014

I did a powerpoint on Yosemite and was devastated about the huge fire that happened throughtout the months of September and October 2013. I would really like to go there during the summer.


August 16, 2013

I went to yosemite in Aug 2013 for the first time and it was absolutely beautiful. I went with my girlfriend and some of her family. The place you want to go is Glacier point because the view up there is breath taking. We saw buck and many squirrls and a coyote. I even proposed to my girlfriend there in front of half dome because to me it was the most beautiful place to do it (she of course said yes!). I would recommend Yosemite to everyone and believe me, this will be an anniversary trip for us for years to come.

G & G

June 10, 2013

Entered park from rt 120.Stopped to use the rest rooms,Not up to standard for the #1 or #2 NP in this country.Day 2 at giant sequoias,just walking by the rest rooms the odor would knock you over,could even use these rest rooms.Shame on you


April 10, 2013

this is a great website for doing projects!


March 17, 2013

I have been to yosemite twice, both in the fall and it is just such a beautiful peaceful place. You are surrounded by mother nature at her best. My son and his wife live and work there so I am fortunate to have a good reason to visit often. Make sure you go out late at night and enjoy the spectacular show of stars and constellations..you'll never see it any better. Amazing!!!


March 4, 2013

yay im going there right now

The Joker

October 26, 2012

This place is beuatiful


October 19, 2012

I love waterfalls it looks AMAZING!!


May 15, 2012

Yosemite is a beautiful place to be. I went there in summer of '05. it was absolutley breathtaking. I definitley reccomend going there soon.


May 13, 2012

wow a lot of waterfalls!I want to go there

katskerhatesher! :P

April 20, 2012

Yosemite is such an awesome place to come with friends and family! I recommend to everyone of all ages. :)


March 18, 2012

i went to yosemite in sept of of 2005 it was so pretty green meadows water flowing deer feeding off the ground i will never forget my trip there im planning on going back next year to show my new wife how pretty it was


March 13, 2012

i wonder what yosemite is really like in california. it sounds nice and amazing to see and to be there. i wonder if that's all true. i need this information for a project, and i hope your site can help! thanks so much, *clutter-person


February 17, 2012

I went to Yosemite many years ago. I've learned much about the history and culture about the park. It was an unforgetable expieriance.

boo boo bhabiie

February 7, 2012

yosemite is a very cool place to be at for summer vacation or any kind of seasons. i hope this can also help me with my research in yosemite. =) cool.


January 24, 2012

wow yosemite is just so beautiful and nice.


January 17, 2012

Doing A PowerPoint on this hoping your site will help me out!


January 16, 2012

This website is good for information about any park. I go to Yosemite every spring. It is so pretty.


December 12, 2011

Hi Yosemite be there next year with Sarh&Richard

CA Hiker

November 26, 2011

My wife and I enjoying visiting Yosemite N.P. in the Spring - specifically late May and before Memorial Day weekend. The waterfalls are in their full glory and before the summer crowds have arrived.


November 10, 2011

My husband and I were there about 4 years ago. It was a dream come true. The views on the horseback ride in the Tuolumne Meadows were breathtaking. We were there in July and weather was perfect. Areas away from the village were the best because of traffic congestion there.


November 10, 2011

Just visited Yosemite in June. I was there for more than a day for the first time. It was Great. I could spend a whole summer there and probably not want to leave except for the crowds.

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