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Best Time to Visit Yosemite National Park: Spring!

You need reasons to visit Yosemite National Park in the Spring? Our family traveled around the United States in an RV for nearly two years. We saw countless amazing places and visited more than a dozen national parks. Our Spring Break road trip to Yosemite National Park is still one of my favorite memories. Today, I will give you my five top reasons to visit Yosemite in Spring.

That might come as a shock to you, but it is absolutely true. In my mind, as I type this, I can still hear as clear as day the huge roar of excitement in our vehicle when we came around that bend in the road and got our first glimpse of a snow-dusted Half Dome.

Snow-dusted El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in the Spring. What a stunning view!

That was just the beginning of an awesome trip for all of us. These five reasons are exactly why our visit to Yosemite is such a highlight amongst so many amazing outdoor adventures.

Yosemite National Park Entrance Fee

An entrance pass is required for all visitors to Yosemite National Park. You can buy a day pass or an annual pass online from the National Park Service or at the entrance gate.

5 Reasons to Visit Yosemite in the Spring


Honestly, I could probably come up with 100 reasons to visit Yosemite in the Spring because it really was that good. But I am going to stick with 5 that I believe will be of the most value to you as you make your decision about when to make your family trip to the amazing Yosemite National Park.

1. Enjoy Near Perfect Weather Conditions

If you’re a fan of crisp cool mornings, warm weather in the afternoon, and a bit of snow lining the trails, then spring in Yosemite will be your heaven.

That’s exactly what we encountered during our amazing family trip. The Airbnb cabin where we stayed was perfect. It was located outside of Yosemite Valley in an area with higher elevations, which allowed for a decent amount of snow to remain on the ground.

Don’t get me wrong. The roads were clear and we didn’t have to do any driving through snow or messy conditions. There was just enough snow left to make the whole experience feel like quite an adventure. (And since we were visiting from Texas, we really enjoyed that snow!)

I can’t make any promises about what the weather conditions during any other Spring Break. Depending on how the season goes there could be more snow in the area, possibly snow still coming down, during your spring vacation or even into early April. (It’s been known to happen.) That could make it a very different experience for you, but as long as the roads are open it should still be quite an enjoyable adventure if you come prepared!

My three kids in front of a beautiful waterfall in Yosemite National Park in the Spring.

If you do have the option, try to plan your road trip for late spring. For example, late April or early May to avoid some of the potential cold weather issues.

All that said, don’t wait too long. In my opinion, the summer months are not the best months to visit a popular park. If you do decide to put off your trip until summer, consider my next point and brace yourself for the hordes of people.

Road Closures

Always check with the National Park Service for alerts regarding road closures for construction or due to weather conditions. Note that Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road are generally closed during winter months.

2. Avoid the Overwhelming Crowds During Summer Months

Our family has visited 15 different national parks. Some of those we have visited multiple times and during different seasons. We have enjoyed every single visit and feel extremely fortunate for every single opportunity. That said, the one factor that can put a damper on our experience is dealing with crowds and traffic.

One of our most peaceful national park experiences was a visit to Great Smoky Mountain National Park in North Carolina. Coincidentally, that was also during the spring season.

FIND SERENITY IN PARKS BEFORE OR AFTER SUMMER

Without a doubt, we have experienced our largest crowds during the summer. Families with kiddos are making the most of their summer vacation. It’s a great time to plan a road, experience these spectacular national parks, and create memories for the whole family. We are all for that!

But, when we have an opportunity to make a choice that’s best for our family, we prefer to experience the area with fewer people. When we choose to visit a national park, part of the appeal is the chance to enjoy the solitude and peace in nature.

During that late summer rush, there are few opportunities to find serenity while trying to soak in the natural beauty. Our most serene and treasured moments in the national parks have been outside of the heavy tourist season of summer.

AVERAGE MONTHLY VISITORS AT YOSEMITE

The highest volume of visitors to the park is during June, July, and August. Nearly half of the total annual guests (3.7 million people) visit during those three months alone. That’s almost 1.7 million people driving the park roads, entering the gates, walking the trails, and crowding the visitor center during a short 12-week period.

Yosemite hosts over 465,000 people during September, the fourth highest month in terms of average visitor volume. That’s a lot of feet on the ground.

Here is a summary of the average number of guests visiting Yosemite National Park by month.

  • January: 108,000
  • February: 113,000
  • March: 153,000
  • April: 224,000
  • May: 353,000
  • June: 489,000
  • July: 593,000
  • August: 600,000
  • September: 465,000
  • October: 328,000
  • November: 158,000
  • December: 119,000
  • Source: National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics
A peek at Half Dome during our last visit to Yosemite in the Fall. A spectacular time to visit Yosemite National Park!

We have been able to experience Yosemite National Park in both spring and fall, so I cannot say from experience exactly what summer crowds look like there. But I can only assume from our other national park visits in the summer that Yosemite would also be quite crowded.

If you truly want to avoid that overwhelming type of situation that will slow you down and steal some of that solitude you are searching for, an early Spring visit to Yosemite makes perfect sense.

3. Pay Less For Accommodations Near Yosemite

Unless you plan to fly halfway across the country to visit Yosemite National Park (which would totally be worth it), your greatest expense will be accommodations for your family. Yes, the chance to visit this amazing national park would be worth the costs of an Airbnb rental or hotel room. But, you’ll get more for less in the spring.

Hotel rates can easily exceed $250 per night during peak season. I don’t know about you, but those prices start to offend my sense of reasonableness. I have a hard time booking any room at that price point.

Well, my worst fears were not realized. When we planned our visit during that spring, we found a fantastic 3-bedroom rental on Airbnb for less than $200 per night. That’s still not a cheap rate. But, I can promise you that after the whole experience was over I did not question spending that amount of money. For such an awesome place that allowed me to have that experience with my family, I may have been willing to pay more.

The bottom line is that your money will go farther toward a hotel or Airbnb in the area if you visit outside of the peak tourist seasons. (Obviously, being right at Spring Break kept the price up there a bit for us. You could possibly get a place like this even cheaper during other times of the year you might choose to visit.)

4. Breathtaking Waterfalls As Snow Melts

Everyone will tell you that if you want to catch the waterfalls in the Yosemite Valley at the peak of their flow, you will need to visit around May.

We visited Yosemite again in autumn. Compared to the majestic waterfalls we saw in the spring, there was a significant difference in the water levels. By the late fall season, the flow of the great Yosemite Falls had greatly diminished and was not nearly as dramatic.

Note that this point didn’t take anything away from our experience during the fall season, but it is reason enough to make our list of why I recommend you visit Yosemite in spring.

Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park in the Spring. You should make your way there ASAP!

SNOWMELTS CREATE WORLD CLASS WATERFALLS

While I am certain the waterfalls were not at their peak when we visited in the early spring, they were far more glorious in the spring than in the fall.

You will experience the very best views during the runoff as the winter snow melts, which occurs in late spring – May or even early June. By that time of year, you are also dealing with larger crowds, hotter daytime temperatures, and higher prices.

For us, an early spring visit was one of the best ways to experience the changing seasons in the park while also enjoying fewer crowds and fewer traffic jams. You might just feel the same way.

BEST VIEWS OF YOSEMITE FALLS

You will be able to take in the magical views of Yosemite Falls from various points around Yosemite Valley, including Yosemite Village and Yosemite Valley Lodge. Include some time in your schedule to walk along the one mile trail from the lodge to Lower Yosemite Falls. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle.

If you have more time and energy, prepare and plan for a challenging hike to the peak of Yosemite Falls. If you go this route, plan for full day of hiking to complete this 7-mile round trip trek.

Yosemite Falls is one of the world’s highest waterfall. It’s comprised of three separate falls, including Upper Yosemite Fall (1,430′), Middle Cascades (675′), and Lower Yosemite Fall (320′).

5. Stunning Views of Valleys, Peaks, and Trees

Okay, I’m cheating a little bit on this last one of my 5 reasons to visit Yosemite National Park. The truth is that your mind will be blown by the views no matter what time of year you visit Yosemite.

Around nearly every corner in the Yosemite Valley, another feature of the landscape surfaces and manages to keep your jaw on that green valley floor. It is that good.

A beautiful granite dome in the Spring in Yosemite National Park

Besides that first glimpse of Half Dome, the view etched in my memory and my soul more than any other is the view of the entire Yosemite Valley from Sentinel Dome.

Folks, you can take a small drive up from the valley and then hike just 2.2 miles round trip to get the view of your lifetime. It is SO worth it and you must promise me you will get to Sentinel Dome or die trying. Not really…but I swear to you that you will not regret that decision.

A cross section of a giant Sequoia on display in Yosemite National Park...and it was over 1,000 years old!

And if you don’t find a way to hug a giant Sequoia during your visit, then you have truly missed out!

The Best Time of Year to Visit Yosemite

I’ve given you plenty of my opinions, observations, and a few facts to consider when planning your trip to Yosemite National Park. And while I hope above all else that this article is helpful for you, I also understand that what’s best for me may not be best for you.

Maybe you prefer summer crowds because you love to meet new people. Or even if you agree with me and dislike the crowds, admiring the stunning beauty of fall foliage may be worth the packed trails. In that case, and excellent time to visit is late September or early fall.

Whatever the case, we would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. I know our readers enjoy learning from others. Share your thoughts about the things that make spring (or another season) the best time of year to visit Yosemite National Park!

Above all, I sincerely hope that you have found this information helpful and that it will get you one step closer to visiting Yosemite National Park for an unforgettable family adventure experience.

Because memories could not possibly be made of finer stuff than this.

Yosemite National Park in the spring

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6 Comments

  1. I’ve wanted to visit Yosemite, but it’s quite a ways for me, so I haven’t quite known when or where to start. This gets me excited to plan a little spring adventure. Looks like a blast!

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