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Get to know Yosemite with an Experienced Guide
Spring in Yosemite || Summer in Yosemite || Autumn in Yosemite || Winter in Yosemite

About Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is best known for the towering cliffs and waterfalls located in Yosemite Valley which covers less than one percent of the park area. The valley is spectacular in all seasons and is the most visited part of the park, attracting over 95% of visitors but only covers less than one percent of the park area. Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of big trees were set aside by President Lincoln as a protected state reserve in 1864. In 1890 a much larger Yosemite National park was established to protect the surrounding mountains, forests and meadows.

Half Dome and Yosemite back country

Today this 1,189-square-mile park covers elevations from 2100 feet at its western boundary to 13,114 feet at the summit of its highest peak, Mt. Lyell. This wide range in elevation provides the conditions for a great diversity of flora and fauna, as well as unique geologic features, which accounts for it being designated as a biodiversity hotspot and a world heritage site. Over one-fourth of North American bird species, many unique to the mountains of the west, have been sighted within its boundaries. Two of the planet’s highest waterfalls leap off the rim of the three-thousand foot high cliffs of Yosemite Valley. Towering giant sequoias grow in three groves within its boundaries and the park is a haven for rare animals, such as the Mount Lyell salamander, the Yosemite toad, and the great gray owl.

Covering an area the size of the state of Rhode Island, the park offers a wide variety of landscapes and intriguing locales to explore. Despite its large number of visitors there are dozens of lovely spots where you can avoid the summer crowds and find peace.


Get to Know Yosemite with an Experienced Guide

Most visitors to the park have a very superficial experience during a stay that is often less than 2 hours. I have lived, worked, and explored Yosemite for over 35 years and am thrilled when I have the opportunity to arrange a multi-day guided tour in the park. These have included a week of high country treks to some of my favorite alpine areas, several days of walks in different areas of the park, multi-day bird watching walks to view a large number of species, and multi-day walks with a specific focus such as geography or wildflowers. If you are ready and able to have an in-depth guided experience in the park, I am happy to tailor a custom tour to fit your needs whether for a family, group of friends, or work retreat. Email your inquiries now.

Yosemite Naturalist, Michael Elsohn Ross on a hike


Spring in Yosemite

This is the season for waterfalls and wildflowers and bird nesting at middle to lower elevations. Late March and early April is perfect for visiting wild flower gardens in the Merced Canyon at the park boundary and viewing western redbud in bloom. May and June is the right time to witness the flowering of Pacific Dogwoods as mid-elevations and wildflowers and waterfalls in Hetch Hetchy Valley and Yosemite Valley. The Glacier Point road usually opens in late May allowing for explorations of the Glacier Point Road area and visits to Sentinel Dome and Glacier Point.

Spring in Yosemite image


Summer in Yosemite

During this season the park’s high country along the Glacier Point and Tioga Roads is accessible. High country wildflowers and birds can be viewed, along with a wide array of other wildlife. The Tuolumne Meadows region, known for its spectacular scenery but only hiked in by a small percentage of park visitors, is a fabulous destination for summer and early fall. The Yosemite Conservancy has free campsites available for in the Tuolumne Meadows campground for participants of scheduled and custom programs. For birders this area provides opportunities to locate gray-crowned rosy finches, pine grosbeaks, Clark’s nutcrackers, and other high elevation birds.

During summer Yosemite Valley can be very congested with day use visitors and by end of summer Yosemite and Sentinel Falls can be dry. Michael can arrange itineraries to explore the valley in early morning and evening to avoid crowds and arrange for visits to less crowded areas near the valley during mid-day. Both summer and early fall are great for explorations of Inyo National Forest and Mono Lake at the park’s eastern boundary.

Summer in Yosemite image


Autumn in Yosemite

Early autumn offers quiet adventures in the high country and beautiful fall colors as the season progresses, as well as lovely fall walks in Yosemite Valley, Wawona, the Sequoia Groves, and trails along the Glacier Point Road. This is also a wonderful to visit the high country before late fall snows close the Tioga Road for the winter. The beginning of fall is a great time to sight migrating birds as they travel down and across the Sierra Nevada.

Autumn in Yosemite image


Winter in Yosemite

The colder months of December, January, and February are the park’s off-season. During this time, especially during mid-week, it can feel like you have the park to yourself. Waterfalls start flowing with the arrival of rains in late fall. Usually by late December can cross country ski or snowshoe at Badger Pass or Crane Flat or hike on trails in Yosemite Valley, Wawona, or Hetch Hetchy. Late February is the time to view amazing wildflower displays in the lower Merced Canyon. All year resident birds and winter visitors can be seen in many park locations during this season.

Winter in Yosemite image


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