Known for its plunging waterfalls, giant sequoia trees, sheer granite cliffs, and more, you could easily spend weeks exploring Yosemite National Park. The park has a distinct appeal no matter what time of year—here, shoulder season simply means fewer people and a chance to see Yosemite’s beauty from a different angle. Spring brings gushing waterfalls, summer allows for tackling all outdoor pursuits, fall boasts colorful trees and fewer crowds, and winter becomes a snowy wonderland for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Getting around the park is made easier by the free Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS), a public transit system that allows you to meander through the park car-free. Four routes connect to Yosemite from the gateway communities of Merced, Fresno, Mammoth Lakes, and Sonora (the latter three operate in summer only).
Plan ahead when you visit this storied destination to ensure the trip of a lifetime—here’s a guide to get you started.
Towering 3,593 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor, El Capitan is the undisputed king of the granite monoliths and a mecca for daredevil rock climbers. Get a good look at the earth’s largest single piece of granite from El Capitan Meadow. With a pair of binoculars, you can even watch the climbers inch their way up The Nose.
If you’re new to granite crack climbing or traditional climbing, sign up for a class with Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service in Half Dome Village. The beginners’ “Welcome to the Rock” class will have you climbing and rappelling at heights of up to 60 feet on your first day. To learn more about Yosemite climbing, head over to the El Capitan Bridge and have a chat with one of the Yosemite Climbing Rangers. The “Ask a Climber” program (11 a.m.–3 p.m. in summer) is a daily gathering of rangers, climbers, and curious onlookers.
Lace up your boots and wander easy trails along the Tuolumne River or more rugged paths to the summits of lofty domes and granite-backed alpine lakes. Sleep in a tent cabin, nosh on a burger from the Tuolumne Grill, or attend a poetry gathering at the log-walled Parsons Lodge. Time your trip to Tuolumne Meadows carefully—this 8,600-foot high country is accessible only from June to October.
Upper, Lower, and Middle Yosemite Falls combined make up the highest waterfall in North America, topping out at a prodigious 2,425 feet. A challenging trail accesses the upper fall’s crest, but the base of the lower falls can be visited with an easy stroll. From April to June, wear rain gear—an icy spray drenches all who come near.
One of the West’s most photographed landmarks, Half Dome inspires awe from every angle. Hardcore hikers can trek to its summit (permits are required); everybody else can admire its sheared-off granite from afar. Check out the perspective from Mirror Lake at the base of the stone monolith or drive up to the Washburn Point overlook on Glacier Point Road. to get a better idea of this hike, be sure to watch the video at this LINK.
Glacier Point’s 7,214-foot overlook provides an unforgettable vista of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra crest. Stand at the stone walls and survey Vernal and Nevada Falls and the Merced River canyon, or walk inside the granite Geology Hut to peer out at Half Dome. Best time to visit? Sunrise or sunset, when Half Dome and its granite neighbors turn pink.
Courtesy of Visit California
Original article – 8 Sights You Must See in Yosemite