Yosemite, a Basic Guide —

I recently visited Yosemite National Park during July the 4th weekend, stayed inside the park for around 5 hours and have been dreaming of going back ever since. To recapture my wonderful trip, I decided to write this guide so that first-timers at Yosemite can spend their time more efficiently in the huge park. This guide is for folks who don’t label themselves as extremely “outdoor-savvy,” who will be visiting Yosemite for the first time for a day trip and want to get some quick tips for visiting the park. If you are a veteran of multiple camping trips in the wild, this might be a little too basic for you.


View of lower Vernal Fall from Footbridge
So here we go —
  • Timing: Get to the park as early as possible because there’s always a long line getting into the park when it’s weekend or holiday. We arrived around 10:30 AM and waited for around an hour and a half because we stayed pretty far away from the park. This leads to my second point,
  • Planning: Don’t wait until last minute to book your hotels. They run out fast. Plan your trip early so you can get to the park early!
  • Parking: Chances are you arrived at the park later than you expected anyways. If you can’t find a parking spot at Visitor Parking, keep driving to other parking lots deeper inside the park. There are at least five parking lots inside the park and a looping shuttle system. You can choose to drive around the park if you are going for a day trip, or take the shuttle to visit different trails.

Hikers and rainbows spotted on Vernal Fall trail
  • Gears: Wear hiking gears and be prepared to get wet, especially if you’re hiking waterfall trails (and you should because the waterfalls are amazing).
  • Water: There are plenty of opportunities to refill your water bottle on hiking trails. On Vernal Fall trail, there was a sign that reminds visitors to get water because it was the last point to get water on the trail. I thought it was a particularly user-friendly reminder.
  • Food: Yes, there are places to get food inside the park, but most of them are close to the Visitor Center. Pack a lunch with you because you’ll probably be hiking or on the road when it’s lunch time!
  • Trash: Bring a small trash bag with you especially if you are hiking because it would be hard to find trash cans when you are further down the trail. Once you get down to ground level, trash cans are easy to find.

A glance of Yosemite Fall on our way out

It would be a cliche to describe a trip to a national park as “transformative” or “refreshing” or anything in that vein, but I sincerely feel rejuvenated from a quick trip to the mountains.

While I don’t believe that there is such thing as “the absolute wilderness,” not to say that Yosemite was packed with visitors on long weekends, mountains are a source of inspirations, a destination for those who call for adventures and an escape from our modern life.

I hope you enjoy your visit to Yosemite as much as I did. Let me know if this guide if helpful at all!


Lynette Bian is a liberal arts & design student at Tufts University. Visit her design works at www.yuchunbian.xyz