Kate writes in to ask:
I’ve recently moved to the Bay Area and am contemplating a 2 night first-time-ever trip to Yosemite around March 25. A few quick questions I was hoping you could answer: will there be enough to do (hiking wise) without needing special gear? How warm need clothing be (My boyfriend will be visiting from Guatemala and doesn’t exactly have snow/winter gear)? If one were to stay at one of the lodges outside (but close to) a park entrance, can you still drive in and park your car to spend the day hiking around? Any restrictions on that? Should we rent a 4-wheel-drive car? Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks for the email Kate. March is a great month to visit the park and is in fact one of my favorites. Normally March brings with it the start of the snow melt and the waterfalls begin to put on a real show. Normally the roads are clear and barring a very strange, late winter you should be fine and have no problems getting into and around the park without needing 4 wheel drive.
Most of the trails on the North side of the Valley open up but the ones on the south side (read: Mist Trail and 4 Mile Trail up to Glacier Point) open later depending on snow and ice on the trail and in avalanche chutes. Great trails for March are: Mirror Lake, Mist Trail to Vernal Fall, John Muir Trail (if passable) to Nevada Fall, and the Upper Yosemite Fall trail. Also Mariposa Grove and Merced Grove of giant Sequoia make great day hikes but you may end up tromping through some snow in the shady spots.
As for clothes just remember to dress in layers. It’s chilly in the mornings and there can be frost and snow (even until May) but it normally gets in the upper 60’s – low 70’s during the day. Don’t count on shorts as it can get chilly really quickly. If a chill wind comes up you’ll want to be able to put clothes back on as quickly as you took them off. Be sure to keep your eye on the weather about a week or two before your trip for clues how to dress.
Good luck and have a great trip.