Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic and stunning natural wonders in the United States, so it’s no surprise that the park draws millions of visitors each year. Unfortunately, millions of visitors means some pretty enormous crowds, especially during peak season. This leaves many people wondering how to avoid Yosemite crowds and have a more peaceful time in this beautiful natural area.
The good news? There are ways around this problem. Slower seasons with good weather do exist, activities off the beaten path offer an escape from large groups of people, and offsite campgrounds with plenty of room to spread out give you a chance to chill in your own space before heading back into the busyness of a crowded park.
In this article, we will give you all of our top tips to avoid Yosemite crowds and have an amazing experience in nature that you don’t have to share with hundreds of strangers.
When to Visit to Avoid Yosemite Crowds
The first—and most important—thing you can do to ensure you avoid Yosemite crowds as much as possible is plan your visit during the right time of year. The summer months are a zoo at Yosemite National Park. This is when kids are out of school, and the summer weather is quite amazing, making it the perfect summer vacation destination for families looking for fun ways to spend their break from day-to-day life.
The thing is, summer is not the only time of year that Yosemite sees beautiful weather. If you’re able, plan your trip for late spring or early fall, when school is in session but the sun is still shining down on this gorgeous national park. This will ensure lower crowd levels while still giving you the benefit of warm days, and in the late spring the park’s waterfalls will likely be extra fantastic!
Crowd-Free Activities in Yosemite
Of course, there are those who can only visit in the summer. If this is the case for you, don’t let it deter you from going to Yosemite (the place is stunning and deserves a visit whenever you can make it work), but do make a conscious effort to choose activities off the beaten path in order to avoid Yosemite crowds as much as you can.
While some of the more popular trails in Yosemite can get quite crowded, there are plenty of quieter trails to explore. The park boasts over 800 miles of hiking trails, so there is something for everyone, from easy walks to strenuous multi-day treks.
For a more secluded hiking experience, try the trails listed below:
- West Valley Loop Trail
- Merced Grove Trail
- Lembert Dome & Dog Lake
- Sentinel Dome/Taft Point Loop
- Inspiration Point
Find more great Yosemite hiking trails: The Best Hikes in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is home to a wide variety of animals, including black bears, coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions. While some visitors are content to watch wildlife from their cars or from crowded viewpoints, others prefer to venture off the beaten path to seek out more secluded viewing opportunities.
One of the best ways to avoid Yosemite crowds and see wildlife is to take a guided wildlife tour with a park ranger or a local naturalist. These people will be able to take you out relatively safely, meaning a better chance of seeing animals (especially if you take binoculars) and a lower chance of running into fellow people.
Yosemite’s natural beauty makes it a photographer’s dream destination, but the crowds can make it difficult to capture that perfect shot.
As mentioned above, you could try visiting the park during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) when there are fewer visitors. Another option is to visit some of the less-visited areas of the park, such as the high country or lesser-known waterfalls like Illilouette Fall and Ribbon Fall. You’d also get some good shots by hiking some of the trails we mentioned above.
Yosemite is famous for its challenging rock-climbing routes, but the crowds at popular climbing areas can be daunting. For those looking for a more secluded climbing experience, try venturing off to the less-visited parts of the park. There are plenty of quieter climbing areas to explore, and many local guide services offer customized climbing trips that cater to individual needs and skill levels.
Yosemite is home to some of the best fishing in the country, with over 400 miles of rivers and streams to explore. You can avoid Yosemite crowds by fishing in the high country lakes or the quieter sections of the Merced River. Grab a fishing pole and get ready to have an amazing time relaxing, catching fish, and enjoying the view!
One of the best ways to avoid crowds in Yosemite is to stay after sunset. The park doesn’t close at night, and actually becomes quite magical whenever dark rolls around and the majority of the visitors clear out.
During a full moon, the moonlight reflects off the rock faces, providing a surprising amount of light to explore by. If you’re lucky enough to visit when the moon is bright, head to Lower Yosemite Fall to see if you can catch a rare moonbow, a strange phenomenon that occurs when the moon’s light reflects in the mist from the fall, creating a rainbow effect.
Visiting during a new moon or crescent moon? Those dark skies are excellent for stargazing! Stick around after dark and see what constellations you can find in the night sky.
Just remember to pack a good flashlight if you plan to stay in the park after dark.
Where to Stay to Avoid Yosemite Crowds
Finally, by choosing your Yosemite lodging wisely, you can give yourself a more peaceful stay even if you do have to fight crowds some of the time while in the park. Outdoorsy Yosemite is the perfect option!
This amazing campground features large RV sites with plenty of room to spread out. Don’t have your own RV? You can have one of these delivered and set up for you at Outdoorsy Yosemite.
There are plenty of walking paths onsite at OUtdoorsy Yosemite for a crowd-free end-of-the day stroll, and the other campground amenities are top-notch.
The best part? Outdoorsy Yosemite is just minutes from the Yosemite National Park entrance. This means it’s easy to get up early and avoid Yosemite crowds in the more popular spots in the park before you spend the late morning and afternoon enjoying the off-the-beaten path adventures mentioned above.
Yep, Yosemite National Park is a stunning natural wonder that is well worth a visit. It’s true that the crowds can be overwhelming at times, but there are also times of year when the crowds thin out. Additionally, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the park in a more peaceful and intimate way, even when there are a lot of people in the more popular areas.
Of course, choosing camping in Outdoorsy Yosemite will also help by giving you a place to escape the hustle and bustle at the end of each day.
By visiting at the right time, staying in the right place, and choosing the right activities, you’re sure to have an amazing time in this beautiful park!