Top 5 Things to See in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park in California is one of the most popular destinations in the world. In 2015 over 4.3 million U.S. and international visitors explored the 1,169 square miles of park lands. The remarkable landscape with its thousand of acres of designated wilderness provides limitless opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast in all of us. Additionally, the moderate climate with changing seasons makes it the perfect place to visit anytime of the year. Whether on a honeymoon, taking the family on an affordable vacation or creating new memories there are so many things to see in Yosemite that multiple trips will be required.

Key Things to See in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park is, perhaps, best known for it’s big wow-moments like its granite monoliths, alpine meadows, roaring river rapids, thundering waterfalls and giant sequoias. Perhaps the best kept secret, however, is that 94.45% of the park is designated wilderness which means only a few visitors ever get to see it. For those seeking to have the adventure of a lifetime in a pristine area untouched by civilization, Yosemite provides the perfect opportunity to explore the wonders that nature has to offer and discover the most breathtaking setting in the world.

Backpacking, Hiking and Camping That’s Not For Wimps

two people sitting next to their tents at Yosemite National Park

One of the best ways to experience the 1,101 square miles of designated wilderness and the other things to see in Yosemite is to go on an overnight backpacking trip along some of the 750 miles of marked trails in the park. It’s important to note that some of the trails at higher altitudes are not maintained so hiking there can be challenging even for the most skilled outdoor enthusiasts. Still, such an adventure will allow individuals the opportunity to connect with nature in a unique way.

By keeping your interests in mind along with your abilities and time frame available, you can plan the perfect wilderness adventure. So what are some of the things to see in Yosemite while on the trail? An outdoor lover’s dream, the area offers many rock-climbing mountains, lakes and streams, a wide variety of flora, fauna and spectacular views that are unsurpassed.

Hiking Isn’t the Only Way to Get From Here to There

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Half Dome

One of the trends seen throughout the park in the past few years is horseback and mule riding adventure trips. It’s one of the best ways to explore the history of Yosemite as well as the lush forests that make up the park. Local stables will provide hourly, half-day and full-day equine rentals but for those that have their own steeds, overnight adventures can’t be beat. More area can be covered in a shorter amount of time and, often, the animals are better equipped to handle the difficult terrain and tire less easily.

Additionally, the view from atop a mount just can’t be beat. All trails are open to horseback and mule riding except where posted. So what are some things to see in Yosemite from horseback? Half Dome offers spectacular panoramic views of the park and Yosemite Valley is a great place to run and play.

Can’t Get Enough Water? Try River Rafting Through Yosemite

Merced River from El Portal to the South Fork

Merced River

There are two key water adventure trips that are must-dos while visiting Yosemite: Merced River and Tuolumne River. Both rivers are adjacent to main roads that lead into the park. Due to areas containing hazardous rapids, rafting is only allowed between Stoneman Bridge and the Sentinel Beach Picnic Area.

For the more experienced water enthusiast that is looking for a two to three day adventure, the Tuolumne offers many high quality Class IV Rapids that are located within the walls of the park’s canyon. The Merced, on the other hand, is a nice easy float for a family that’s looking for a little adventure and maybe fishing but wants to limit the danger level. In both cases, to reduce the need to transport the equipment needed for such a trip, local raft rentals are available and include paddles and vests.

Touring Offers Many Levels of Adventure and Lots of Information

Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park

Bridalveil Falls

Whether searching for a vehicle, tram, or train tour, a camping, hiking or biking adventure, a swim journey, riding the rapids, rock climbing, a chance to photograph the vast wonders in the area or an opportunity to explore the park while on horseback there is a tour for you that will accommodate your skill level. There’s even an adventure specifically designed by the park rangers for families where children can become Jr. Rangers for the duration of their stay.

An extraordinary option for first time visitors, a tour is a great way to discover the rugged beauty and majesty that is embraced by the park as well as to easily discover all the best things to see in Yosemite. Some key sites include the 650 foot high Bridalveil Falls, Tuolumne Grove, Mariposa Grove and Merced Grove, which are home to the giant sequoias rising 210 feet into the air and are 92 feet in diameter; Glacier Point, Mirror Lake and the Valley View where El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, Sentinel Rock, Bridalveil Falls and Bridalveil Meadows can all be viewed at a single glance.

Alternatively, a moonlight tour that showcases Yosemite’s favorite sites, a concert, a historical performance or just stargazing would be the perfect way to end a full day of activities. Regardless of an outdoor enthusiast’s desires, the perfect tour can be customized to meet any requests.

Experiencing the Natural Wonders of Yosemite

Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park

Mist Trail

An abundance of natural wonders are waiting for visitors to Yosemite and most can be viewed by hiking the various trails that range from easy to challenging. One of the most popular is the Mist Trail that leads to Vernal Falls. The Mist Trail serves as the gateway to many of the park’s most spectacular sights. It also leads to Half Dome where visitors can challenge themselves to the ultimate test by scaling the vertical exposed rock face utilizing only two steel cables.

From the top of the Dome, hikers experience one of Yosemite’s most captivating viewpoints. Whether into photography, art or just wanting to take in the most comprehensive lookout in the park, visitors can drive to Glacier Point. Located what to many feels like the “top of the world,” the lookout is at the highest altitude in the park and takes in not only the valley below, but the surrounding mountains.

There are a plethora of things to see in Yosemite National Park. There are even more things to do. The amazing geographic complexity of the area furnishes immeasurable opportunities for exploration in a vehicle, on foot, on a bike, on a raft or even on horseback. Whether staying for a single day or a week, the 760,000+ acres of old-growth forests, granite cliffs, vast meadows, sparkling streams and abundance of flora and fauna offer more opportunities than can be experienced in a single visit. Now is the time to book an adventure so you can discover the many things to see in Yosemite that will make memories that last a lifetime.

IMAGE SOURCE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5