It’s summer time and that means crowds in Yosemite. This year the crowd problem is compounded by one of the wettest winters we’ve had in years and that means the waterfalls are still roaring. Couple the normal summer crowds with the constant media bombardment about how awesome the waterfalls are, rockfalls along highway 140 and road construction projects and you’ve got an epic traffic nightmare.
If you’re headed up to the park expect long lines getting into Yosemite, traffic jams in Yosemite Valley and no parking. That’s every summer in Yosemite Valley. Want to avoid that mess? Here are some options which can help save your sanity.
Come in the off season.
Come in the off season. I know, you hear people say it all the time but it’s true. Yosemite is just as beautiful, if not more, in the fall and winter as it is in the summer. In fall there’s changing leaves, cooler days, and lots of animals coming down from the higher elevations now that the crowds have left.
In winter there’s snow and skiing and ice skating.
Just remember, major holidays are still major holidays and not the off season. The park is always crowded any holiday that has the kids out of school.
Head to the Back Country
I don’t mean just head up the Tioga Road in your car. In years past that might have worked but this year, this year the parking areas and roads are still packed. Try making a reservation for a back country trip to one of the High Sierra Camps or deep into the wilderness and get away from the crowds. Park your car and ride YARTS or one of the shuttle busses to your trailhead. Did you know there are lots of High Sierra destinations and services like back country horseback trips and rides offered just outside the park? And the scenery is every bit as beautiful!
If you’re headed into the Yosemite back country you’ll need a wilderness permit at least 24 hours in advance. Remember there are trailhead quotas to keep from over crowding so schedule early.
High Sierra camp spots are available a year in advance through a lottery system so this year it’s too late already. You can find out more information about the camps and the lottery here.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Ben Franklin said. Obviously he was talking about going to Yosemite. Get up early and head to your destination in the park before the crowds do. I’m talking REALLY early. When we want to go somewhere in the Valley in the summer we generally get there about 6am. That gives us time to hike and enjoy the cool morning air before the heat and smog of the afternoon sets in. Sure, you might hear some bellyaching from the wife and kids, but you’ll still have a great time and you won’t have to fight the traffic on the way in.
Use Public Transportation
YARTS is a great way to get around in Yosemite. The busses run from most of the communities surrounding the park and make regular, scheduled stops. You can find out more about YARTS on their website.
If you’ve got tips you use to beat the crowds please leave them in the comments below. Remember, try to stay positive. Negative comments, trolling or flaming comments will be deleted.