The majority of visitors to Yosemite arrive in the summer months. The park is bustling with people, the wildlife is roaming around and the weather is warm. There are plenty of reasons to visit Yosemite in July.
Yosemite National Park is a world-renowned natural wonder and a national treasure. Home to some of the most famous waterfalls in the United States, Yosemite offers many recreational activities for visitors.
There are many things to do in Yosemite in July. From the best hiking trails, camping, fishing, or simply taking in the scenery, there is something for everyone.
How to Get to Yosemite July
One of the best reasons to visit Yosemite in July is all of the entrances to the park are open. This is important for anyone using the Tioga Road entrance.
The entrance closes for the winter months and usually reopens sometime in June. Tioga is the most convenient to use for anyone arriving from Las Vegas.
The South entrance is the closest for anyone coming from Los Angeles or San Diego. It is open all year round and it is close to the Mariposa Grove.
The other three entrances are used by those coming from San Francisco. They are Hetchy Hetch, Big Oak and Arch Rock.
Big Oak and Arch Rock are the most popular entrances. However, due to Yosemite in July crowds, it may be better to use Hetchy Hetch. It is not the most direct route which makes it the least busy. However, the views along the way are stunning!
From late May until September all reservations to Yosemite must be made in advance!
All entrances have a toll booth to pay the fee to the park. Tickets purchased at the entrance are around $35. America the Beautiful Pass is accepted at Yosemite. It is very affordable and can be used at over 2000 sites across the US.
If you visit National Parks regularly, this pass is very cost-effective! Just one pass covers the entrance fee for a driver and all passengers. REI also donate 10% of pass sale proceeds to the National Park Foundation.
The Weather Yosemite July
July is one of the hottest months of the year. The temperature in Yosemite in July can reach up to 89 degrees Fahrenheit or 32 Celsius. Low temperatures are around degrees Fahrenheit or 14 degrees Celsius.
With this in mind, it is better to do most exploring in the morning and in the late afternoon. Many of the trails do not provide shade and longer hikes may be more difficult at this time of year.
Don’t worry. There is plenty to keep everyone entertained and many ways to cool down in Yosemite in July.
Go for a Hike
Most if not all of the hiking trails are open in Yosemite in July. However, there are a few areas of the park under construction this year and the next, so always check the website or check with a park ranger.
Yosemite has a range of hiking trails for all abilities. There are all-day hikes for the more adventurous and kid friendly hikes perfect for families travelling with young kids.
Most visitors to the park spend the majority of their time hiking. Choosing a hike in Yosemite can be a daunting task with the sheer number of trails one could choose from.
The first thing you should do is to determine what type of hike. For example, an easy and short hike or a long and strenuous trek?
This is where personal fitness level comes into play. In fact, the fitness level of the whole group should be considered. Anyone not used to hiking would be best to start with shorter trails that are less strenuous.
Maps are provided by Yosemite National Park to see which trails are nearby. Staff are also on hand to give recommendations.
Before setting off, check out AllTrails. It is a great app which provides tons of information on the many trails in Yosemite.
Cool Down in the Merced River
One way to cool off in the afternoon is rafting in Yosemite. The Merced River is a gentle rapid and suitable for families. However, anyone looking for a little more adventure can head to El Portal where the faster rapids are.
The Merced River is the best place to try rafting for the first time or just enjoy the views of the park from a different perspective. The rapids are caused by melting snow and by July they have usually tapered off.
Remember this is not set in stone and it is always best to check before entering the water!
The decision on whether to allow rafting is made after the gauge height is taken at Pohono Bridge in the morning. If the level is below 7 feet at 8 am, the river will be open.
There are a few rules to follow while on the river. Everyone to put all rafts in at Stoneman Bridge and take them out at Sentinel Beach.
While on the raft, everyone must have a personal flotation device. Kids under the age of 13 must wear one at all times. Anyone over 13 must have the device within arms reach.
Have a Picnic in Mariposa Grove
There are many places to have a picnic in Yosemite in July. Mariposa Grove is particularly beautiful. It is near the South Entrance and around an hour’s drive from Yosemite Valley.
After parking in the car park it is possible to have a picnic at one of the benches. Alternatively, catch the free shuttle to the entrance of the grove and choose one of the many trails.
The Giant Sequoias Trail are popular due to the famous trees in the grove being over 3000 years old.
Bring a picnic blanket and throw it down under one of the trees to provide shade.
Remember Yosemite has a leave no trace policy. All rubbish should be disposed of properly and anyone visiting the park should leave it how it was discovered.
There are plenty of bears in Yosemite Park. Bear spray is prohibited and there are a few rules to follow. If a bear is spotted, it is important to inform a ranger. Don’t leave food unattended and keep children close.
Watch the Sunrise at Tunnel View
Tunnel View is one of the best places in Yosemite to watch the sunrise. It provides a panoramic view of the valley and Bridalveil Falls.
Tunnel View is an iconic viewing point in Yosemite and it is one of the most famous photo spots within the park.
It is a short drive from Yosemite Valley and easy to get to. There is no hike, simply park up off the Wawona Road and walk to the viewing point.
Expect there to be plenty of people around at sunrise. The light is soft at this time and it is one of the best times to take a photo.
There are usually crowds waiting for the sun to rise to capture one of the best spot photos in the park.
It is easy to understand why it is so popular as the granite peaks turn orange from the sun!
Take a Bike Ride
Yosemite National Park is a beautiful place to visit and explore. One great way to see all of the landmarks is to take a bike ride!
Bikes are available to rent from Curry Village, borrow one from the bike share program or bring one along.
There are twelve trails around the Valley and bikes can be used on the main roads.
One thing to note is safety is a top priority. All children under the age of 18 must wear a helmet. It is important to stay on the roads and paved trails.
Want an off road experience? It may be banned in Yosemite, however, mountain bikers can find plenty of singletrack in the eastern Sierra Nevada, especially around Lake Tahoe.
Some other popular areas include Mammoth Mountain and Kings Canyon National Park.
It is best to bring a bike along. However, Yosemite Bicycle & Sport is an experienced Bike Shop located just outside of Yosemite National Park.
They offer sales, rentals and repairs for all your bicycle needs!
See Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in the park and one of the tallest in the world!
There are a few options when it comes to catching a glimpse of Yosemite Falls. Anyone visiting Yosemite with kids may want to take a short hike to Lower Yosemite Falls.
It is a paved path, perfect for anyone who can’t do a more strenous hike.
The trail goes to the bottom of Yosemite Falls. In July there is likely to be a trickle. However, it is unlikely to be overflowing. It usually starts to flow around around April or May and dries up around July or August.
Another alternative is to hike one of the best trails in Yosemite, the Mist Trail.
This trail is not a kid friendly hike as there are many slippery areas and steep slopes.
What makes it so popular it passes two waterfalls, Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. These are seen from the trail and it goes to the top of Yosemite Falls.
The 11km hike can take around four or five hours and it begins at Happy Isles Trailhead, not far from Yosemite Valley.
At this time of year, it is best to start the hike early in the morning to avoid crowds on this busy trail. Yosemite in July weather is hot and sunny and with little shade, it is best to be finished before the midday sun.
As this trail can be wet, it is best to wear waterproof hiking boots. These can keep feet dry and provide enough support for the steep inclines.
Swim in the Lake
Yosemite weather in July is hot and sticky. One of the best ways to cool down is to swim in one of the many lakes in Yosemite.
Mirror Lake is a popular area and a wonderful place for a picnic. However, for anyone wanting to go off the beaten track, head to Tenaya Lake off the Tioga Road.
It is the largest natural lake in Yosemite and as it is a little further from the hustle and bustle of the Valley it is a little quieter.
Don’t be fooled by the crystal clear waters. The lake is cold, occasional ice blocks have been seen floating in summer.
Try Out Paddle Boarding
If Tenaya lake is too cold, try out paddleboarding!
Kayaks or paddleboards are one of the best ways to explore this area. In fact, the NPS allows any non-motorized boat on Lake campground. Bring your own or rent one nearby!
What a way to spend time at a beautiful place! Tenaya Lake in the Sierra Nevada high country is an oasis surrounded by lofty granite peaks and evergreen conifers. Visitors have access not only to scenic views they can take a dip at the refreshing waterfalls on this free trip!
Want to feel like a Yosemite pioneer? Some opt to explore Yosemite on foot. However, it is possible to explore this amazing park courtesy of sure-footed horses/mules.
This adventure may lead visitors through granite staircases, across waterfalls or mountain trails offering breathtaking panoramic views from high up in nature’s realm – all without any technology handy (well except maybe a phone).
The park offers a wonderful opportunity for those who want to get up close and personal with nature. Rides on horseback or mules can be enjoyed by passengers of all ages, including children as long they are at least 7 years old.
Some days trips run out from Big Trees Stables in Wawona or the Yosemite trails pack station is a short drive outside the park’s southern entrance and they offer shorter creekside or pine forest horse rides in addition to their half-day giant sequoia excursions at Mariposa Groove.
Hop on an Open Air Tram
To see Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, El Capitan, Tunnel View, Bridalveil Fall and more simply hop on the open air tram tour.
It is available year-round, and takes approximately 2 hours. With Yosemite weather July, the open air tram is a cool and comfortable way to see the sights.
The tour is led by park rangers and Yosemite Hospitality naturalists. This ensures guests not only get to see the wonders of Yosemite, they can learn about the history, flora, and fauna throughout the park.
The tram keeps to a tight schedule so be there on time.
It is easy to book a ticket at Yosemite Valley Lodge Tour before the tram is due to depart. In the summer time there is an option of a midnight tour.
This is a great opportunity to see the park in the evening and see it from a different perspective.
Look at the Wildlife and Wildflowers in the Meadows
Believe it or there are over 3000 meadows in Yosemite. Some are located in the high country while others are close to the Valley.
Cook’s Meadow is one of the most popular as it has stunning views of Yosemite Falls. The boardwalk trail is popular with families using strollers or for anyone on a bike.
One of the best times to walk along the trail is around sunset. The sun setting behind Half Dome with stunning colours of orange and pink appearing on the granite peaks is spectacular.
Deer come to graze in the meadow around sunset!
The wildflowers are blooming at this time making it a wonderful spot to visit and take in the nature all around.
Hike Half Dome
Nothing is more challenging than hiking Half Dome. The cables to the summit are open around May and hikers from all over the world attempt to reach the summit.
This trail is not for the fainthearted, it’s a whopping 26km and takes around 12 hours.
Many agree it is worth it for the breathtaking views. Half Dome is 1463 metres above the valley floors. there are not many places to visit in Yosemite which are able to provide the same view.
The trail starts at the famous Mist Trails, passing Vernal and Nevada Falls. Along the way there are stunning views of Liberty Cap, Yosemite Valley, and the High Sierra.
The hike is difficult. However, the most difficult part of the hike is the Half Dome cables. Some hikers give up at this point and rest on the granite rock. Don’t worry there are still beautiful views from this point!
The best views are said to be at the summit at sunrise. This is not a hike to do on a whim. It requires a lot of planning!
Hikers need to carry enough food and water for the duration of the hike. About 6-10 litres is advised, depending on the individual and the weather.
Hydration reservoirs are perfect as they are light and easy to use. Don’t forget to take plenty of breaks and nibble on snacks like trail mix or granola bars to keep energy levels up.
It goes without saying a good pair of hiking boots are needed.
It is a lottery so not everyone who applies secures a reservation.
Anyone who was unsuccessful with the lottery can join a tour group. One amazing tour is a 4 Day Yosemite Backpacking Trip from Glacier Point to Half Dome and there is no need to apply for a permit.
Go Fishing at Yosemite
The Yosemite National Park is a great place to teach kids how to fish. There are plenty of trout in the streams and rivers so they’ll be able to spend time catching, even if you don’t always reel one on in!
Visitors don’t need to worry if they have come unprepared. It is possible to get everything necessary for fishing at The Village Sport Shop inside Yosemite Valley – including licenses if required by state law.
Best of all – there’s no charge!
Fishing regulations inside the national park boundaries often differ from those of California state laws. For example, there are laws to protect native rainbow trout along Merced River.
Yosemite National Park is a favourite spot for anglers. One of their most popular spots, especially with visitors from around the world who come to enjoy an outdoor experience and fish wherever they can get permission- which isn’t everywhere!
If in any doubt, stop by one of the park visitor centers for more information.
Celebrate Yosemite July 4th
Yosemite Fourth Of July is one of the busiest times at the park. Expect large number of crowds and to arrive at the park early in the morning.
In fact, in recent years it can take up to two hours to enter the park due to traffic. Accommodation fills up quick.
If visitors are looking for fireworks and parties, Yosemite is the wrong place to visit!
Fireworks are prohibited and there is unlikely to be many celebrations. However, many of the hotels near the park have various celebrations.
To combine both the natural beauty of Yosemite and the traditional celebrations of the Fourth of July, consider staying in the hotels outside of the park during a visit.
Try Rock Climbing
The granite rock formations of Yosemite Valley are what make it such an amazing place. The giant wall known as El Capitan is a landmark and Half Dome is almost certainly the most photographed spot In America outside Las Vegas ‘strip’.
Camp 4 is the perfect place to meet your climbing Montoise during spring and fall. The Valley’s most popular spot for rock climbers, Camp integrates some bouldering into its scenic terrain that can be enjoyed all year long!
In summertime, there are even more opportunities up at Tuolumne Meadows – one of which promises breathtaking views from atop Tenaya Lake.
Climbers come here because it has everything they need: challenging routes on intriguing rocks with amazing scenery around every turn.
Rock climbing in the Yosemite National Park is a world-class experience. The famous YMS was established during a historic time for rock climbers, and it still offers opportunities to challenge yourself like no other place can today!
The experts at Young Men’s Society offer both group lessons as well as private guided climbs for all levels. Where visitors can learn how easy (and fun!) it is to get their adrenaline pumping while learning new skills.
Decided to go it alone? To make your trip safe and fun, it is important to check in with the wilderness information centre before climbing.
The rangers there can inform visitors about any closures due so no one gets hurt!
Visit the Museum
To escape the midday sun, make a quick visit to the museum. It is a wonderful place to learn more about the park especially the history and people who lived in Yosemite in the past.
There are often exhbits held in the area with many of which are interactive. It is a great place for all of the family.
Right next door to the museum is the Ansel Adams Gallery. There are many amazing photographs of the park including the infamous Tunnel View photograph.
Have Dinner at the Awahnee
Anyone wanting to go all out can make reservations for a formal dinner at The Ahwahnee. It was built in the 1920s, the decor and architecture complement the surroundings.
The restaurant has hosted many famous people and presidents over the years. It is considered to be the crown jewel of Yosemite and has lived up to its name.
The Ahwahnee is in Yosemite Valley offers superb views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point. It serves food year-round and it is known for its excellent service and quality.
The first thing to notice walking into the restaurant is the high ceilings allowing enormous windows and spectacular views from the table.
To attend a formal dinner at the restaurant there is a dress code. Men are expected to wear a suit and tie and women are expected to wear a dress or formal outfit.
This rule is strictly adhered to so don’t turn up wearing shorts or sportswear!
It is one of the busiest restaurants in Yosemite so it is always best to make a reservation before arriving to avoid disappointment.
What to Wear to Yosemite in July
A packing list for visiting Yosemite in July can look a little different from one month to the next. Many items depend on the type of itinerary set. However, below is a list of some of the essential items to take.
- With the warm weather, light breathable clothes are essential. It may be chilly in the morning and the evening so a fleece jacket would be a good item to have.
- Yosemite July weather means sun cream is important. There are also likely to be many bugs around so a good bug spray is advised.
- Some hiking essentials are a good pair of waterproof hiking boots, a light rain jacket, a head torch, a lightweight quick drying towel, a backpack and hydration reservoirs for the longer hikes.
- Camping essentials include a sleeping bag, cooking equipment and a picnic blanket.
Camping in Yosemite in July
There are many options, from hotels to holiday homes however, camping is the most popular choice.
There are thirteen campgrounds in Yosemite and require a reservation to be made in advance!
Making a reservation for Yosemite camping July can be stressful. At this time of year the spaces can be filled in seconds months in advance. Reservations open five months ahead of time on 15th of the month at 7am PST.
Some tips on securing a reservation are to log on to the website a few minutes before the reservations open and fill out the first few steps. As soon as 7 strikes dates can be chosen on the website and the success rate increases.
Anyone unable to secure a reservation can check out the cancellation and lottery system on the website.
The most popular campgrounds are those located near Yosemite Valley. North Pines is highly recommended due to its location and its stunning views.
Backpacking in Yosemite in July
Backpacking in Yosemite has gained in popularity over the years. It is a fabulous way to explore parts of the park many don’t get to see. With fewer crowds around it offers solitude with nature.
Yosemite National Park weather in July is warm so it is a great time to backpack!
Before any planning goes ahead, a wilderness permit is required. The park runs a lottery for anyone who applies for the permit. The remaining permits are then offered on a first come first serve basis.
A wilderness permit gives backpackers the right to camp wherever they can hike to. There are very few limitations accept in the Valley and the designated campgrounds.
There is a designated campground for backpackers behind North Pines in the summer. It is for backpackers to use the night before or the night after they set off on their hike.
If this sounds like a lot of hassle and too much planning, there are plenty of tours in Yosemite which include backpacking.
Consider this 5 Day Yosemite Backpacking Trip with Amazing Sunsets. One of the best things about it is the hikes are not very strenuous and it is possible to mix and match the itinerary.
Backpackers camp at the base of Mount Hoffman beside May Lake. It is possible to swim in the lake and relax around the shore or hike the four-mile round trip to the top of Mount Hoffman.
After head to a hidden location, Polly Dome Lake! It is surrounded partially by granite and through high alpine meadows. The last place to set up camp is Glen Aulin.
This trip is great for everyone including families and there are plenty of amazing sunsets to see on this trip in the wilderness of Yosemite.
Glamping In Yosemite in July
For an alternative to camping, Yosemite has its own glamping area in Curry Village. This is where to find heated tents with comfortable beds. They sleep up to four so it is perfect for couples and small families.
While the heated tents are comfortable and offer a little extra comfort, they have no private bathrooms. However, there is a shared bathroom on site.
If a private bathroom is a top priority check out the cabins nearby. Similar to the heated tents, the cabins have fantastic views of the mountains.
They are popular and can book up quickly so best to secure one in advance!
Where to Park an RV in Yosemite
There are ten campgrounds in Yosemite to accommodate RVs. To make a reservation follow the same tips for camping.
If you do not have an RV, It is easy to rent an RV for the trip. It is such a great way to experience the park.
Rented Holiday Homes in Yosemite
On the west side of the park, there are a number of holiday homes and cabins to rent. They have all the necessities needed for a comfortable stay.
The holiday homes offer some seclusion just a short drive from Yosemite Valley.
They come in all shapes and sizes and can accommodate couples, families and groups of friends.
Some have basic amenities while others have fantastic choices such as hot tubs, wood fires and outdoor eating areas. They can book up quickly so plan ahead and make a reservation online!
Hotels in Yosemite Valley
As mentioned above, Yosemite has a few hotels onsite. Along with the Ahwahnee, Yosemite Valley Lodge is close by and offers spacious rooms and lots of facilities on the premises.
Some other facilities the hotel offers are a restaurant on-site and bike rentals. The location is a fantastic base to explore other areas of Yosemite.
There is WiFi, however it can be used for light browsing only. Needless to say this hotel is popular so don’t delay in making a reservation.
Hotels in El Portal
El Portal is the most popular place to stay and is just a ten-minute drive to the park using the South Entrance.
Located along the Merced River is Yosemite View Lodge and it is a little more luxurious. The hotel has four pools and a hot tub, perfect for relaxing after a long day exploring Yosemite.
There is an onsite restaurant and a nearby convenience store. The views along the river are breathtaking and while various room types are available, families may want to opt for one with a kitchenette.
Hotels Near Yosemite
Staying in a hotel closer to the northwestern entrances is a better option for anyone from the bay area. The Rush Creek Lodge is at least an hours drive from Yosemite Valley.
There are several room types available for couples or large families. The outdoor pool opens in the summer and the hot tub is great to relax in.
Some other facilities include a games room, sauna, spa, restaurant and shop onsite.
Glamping Near Yosemite
AutoCamp Yosemite is in Midpines which is about an hour’s drive from the Valley. However, don’t let the distance deter a stay. The hotel is a hidden gem and offers unique rooms to allow guests to experience the outdoors at its best.
The Air Stream come with their own kitchen and BBQ area, as well as closeted bathrooms. They sleep up to four people so they are the perfect size for small families.
All rooms have a patio and a beautiful view of the mountains.
What to Know about Visiting Yosemite in July
The biggest issue facing visitors who visit Yosemite in July is the crowds. It is one of the busiest months of the year so a little preparation can go a long way.
It is best to book accommodation as quickly as possible. Many of the places to stay in Yosemite book up quickly so be prepared to look around the area.
The shops around Yosemite can be quite pricey and there isn’t much choice. Before arriving stock up on all the essentials. This includes gas for the car!
With more people in the park, the busier the roads are likely to be. Set off early to avoid running late for any tours and expect there to be traffic.
This affects the car parks. As they are likely to be jampacked it may be wise to use the public transport the park provide.
It is still possible to get to Glacier Point. However this means strenous hikes not for the fainthearted.
There are rumours Yosemite are likely to limit visitors this year and the following year. The park have announced a reservation system will start in May and will be in effect all through the summer months.
Despite all of the factors to overcome Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in California.
July is an ideal month to visit Yosemite National Park. The weather is warm but not too hot, making it comfortable to explore the many hiking trails and scenic overlooks.
Families will appreciate the variety of kid-friendly activities available, from ranger-led programs to Junior Ranger activities. Couples can enjoy a romantic horseback ride or a leisurely stroll through one of the many flower-filled meadows.
In 2017, about 4.4 million people visited Yosemite National Park. July is the busiest month for visitors to Yosemite National Park with about 2 million visitors coming in that month alone.
There are so many reasons to visit Yosemite in July. The trees are lush and green, the weather is warm, and with all of the trails open there are many hikes to choose from.
The weather is perfect for a picnic with friends or a hike with family. It is perfect to get away from the hustle of city life, and this is the perfect time of year to do it!
There’s something for everyone in Yosemite during July, so don’t miss out on this special time of year.
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