The Undisputed Best Time to Visit Yosemite National Park

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As a California native, I’ve soaked in the sun, felt the coastal breeze, and experienced the myriad of adventures our Golden State has to offer. But if there’s a burning question among travelers, it’s this: What’s the best time of year to go to Yosemite National Park? The answer? It’s arguably May! Let’s explore what makes each month unique in Yosemite, with its pros and cons.

Why May is the Best Time to Visit Yosemite

Yosemite National Park

The best time of year to go to Yosemite National Park? Without a doubt, it’s May. This month is a gem. Waterfalls gush with vigor thanks to the snowmelt, the meadows don a vibrant green outfit, and the summer’s tourist hustle and bustle hasn’t fully set in. It’s nature in its prime.


  • Magnificent waterfalls

  • Moderate temperatures

  • Fewer crowds compared to peak summer months

  • Trails are generally open and accessible


  • Some high-altitude areas might still be snow-covered

  • Nights can get a tad chilly, so pack some warm layers

Visiting Yosemite Month by Month


Yosemite in the winter man walking on trail

The realm of winter dreams. Snow blankets the park, beckoning those who love snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.


  • Picturesque snowy landscapes

  • Fewer visitors

  • Ideal for winter-themed photography


  • Limited access to iconic spots like Glacier Point

  • Brisk temperatures

  • Certain amenities might be closed


Yosemite Glacier Point

Nature awakens. Streams trickle, and hints of spring permeate the air.


  • Blooming wildflowers at lower elevations

  • More trails become walkable

  • Waterfalls start their lively dance


  • Trails can be a bit muddy

  • Nights remain chilly

  • Higher areas may still have snow


yosemite falls upper waterfall

Summer’s embrace. Yosemite is bustling with visitors relishing the summer vibes.


  • Pleasantly warm weather

  • All trails and sites are open

  • Meadows in full splendor and lively wildlife


  • Can get quite crowded, especially in Yosemite Valley

  • Afternoons can be toasty

  • Possible smoky conditions due to regional forest fires


Yosemite in Autumn

A cascade of fall colors. As the mercury dips, the park wears hues of gold and crimson.


  • Stunning fall foliage

  • Comfortable temperatures

  • Fewer visitors after the summer


  • Some amenities start wrapping up in late October

  • Early snowfalls might surprise in elevated spots



Yosemite winter waterfall ice glazed

 Winter’s return. The park transitions into a quieter, snowy phase.


  • Peaceful winter vistas

  • Perfect for holiday-themed visits

  • Less crowded


  • Access restrictions to many regions

  • Cold snaps

  • Shorter daylight hours


To sum it up, while May stands out as the best time of year to go to Yosemite National Park, each month boasts its distinct allure. Whenever you choose to visit, Yosemite’s magnificence awaits to captivate your heart. Safe travels!