When planning travel, it’s so easy to get caught up in the high seasons of travel for various destinations (I’m as guilty as anybody). On those rare occasions when we plan a trip that’s just outside of the respective peak travel season, we’re often greeted with fewer crowds, more stellar views, and a more memorable vacation. Everybody visits Yosemite in the summer. While I love seeing so many people experiencing the natural wonder, I also get overwhelmed with all the hustle and bustle of my visit, which is why Yosemite in Fall is the best time to visit!
YOSEMITE IN FALL
We were in the eastern Sierras a few weeks ago and took a short day trip into the park. The line to get into the park was pretty short and the roads were practically empty. We parked near Tuolumne Lodge (the only high sierra camp accessible via car) and took a short 1-mile hike back to Twin Bridges. On the half-hour walk in and out as well as our time wandering around the area, we saw no more than 15 people (mostly backpackers) as well as a cute chipmunk and an unidentifiable (by me) creature not far from the trail. The leaves were starting to change and we ambled on in pants and a long sleeve shirt, throwing our flannels on from time to time. It was lovely.
A few years ago, we planned a trip to Yosemite in the fall – the first weekend in November, I believe. We ventured all the way into the Valley and saw even fewer people than this last trip. Before our traditional lunch at the Ahwahnee (now called The Majestic by those willing to accept the name change!), the first snow started falling on the valley. If you’ve been to Yosemite, you know its grandiose beauty is unbeatable, but seeing it in the first snow of the season was truly remarkable. Every year we talk about trying to hit that first snow on a weekend trip, but it hasn’t happened yet and I wouldn’t count on anything more than luck to see it again.
WHERE TO STAY (OUTSIDE OF THE PARK)
If you’re on the east side of the park, check out the towns of Mammoth Lakes, June Lake, and Lee Vining. It’s between summer and winter seasons, so you should have some luck finding accommodations. On the west side, check out Mariposa, Oakhurst, and Sonora or even Fresno and Merced if you’re willing to drive a little bit to get into the park. No matter where you stay or what part of the park you’re in, Yosemite in Fall won’t disappoint.