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Park Itineraries

10 Best Things to Do in Yosemite National Park

Including waterfalls, wildlife and viewpoints.

Pick and choose from these top ten things to do on your Yosemite Park vacation, including view a waterfall, see black bears, and top sights like Half Dome.

1. See Yosemite’s Waterfalls

Family watching the falls in Yosemite Valley. Photo by Joseph Fabian
Family watching the falls in Yosemite ValleyJoseph Fabian

When snow melt from mountain peaks brings icy waters rushing downstream into Yosemite Valley, great waterfalls spring to life. During the peak seasonal flow, which usually happens in April through June, the thundering of waterfalls can be heard clear across the valley. But the most famous waterfall trail has to be the Mist Trail leading to Vernal Fall and Nevada Falls.

See our waterfall photo gallery.

2. See Famous Viewpoints

Glacier Point Overlook. Photo by Grant Ordelheide
Glacier Point OverlookGrant Ordelheide

Yosemite’s Tunnel View with Half Dome, Valley View with Merced River, Glacier Point, and Olmsted Point are the most famous views in the National Park. Read more about these 5 Famous Viewpoints Close to the Road in Yosemite.

3. Walk Among Giant Sequoias

Giant Sequoias in Yosemite
Giant Sequoias in YosemiteGrant Ordelheide

Start by taking the whole family on a joyful nature walk through a grove of giant sequoias. The newly renovated boardwalks of the Mariposa Grove are the most popular way to see the big trees, but if you want to avoid the crowds visit the other two smaller groves.

4. See Black Bears & Wildlife

American Black Bear
Deposit Photos

With more than 400 kinds of animals and multiple life zones for plant life, Yosemite is a top spot for wildlife watching. Be sure to secure your food and other smelly things to keep the bears away from humans.

5. Explore Yosemite Trails

The John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail join together in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
The John Muir Trail goes through Yosemite National ParkDeposit Photos

Whether you want to get out of the car and do a little exploring, or you’re planning a backcountry adventure on foot or horseback, we’ve got just the thing for you and your family. Find the hike for you.

6. Go Camping


Nothing beats sleeping under the stars in Yosemite National Park, especially if you’re looking for a little family togetherness.

7. Rock Climbing

Rock climbing in Yosemite

Stalwarts like the giant wall of El Capitan, the polished promontory of Half Dome, and skyscraping Glacier Point all call to expert climbers, who sometimes bivouac overnight while suspended in mid-air. Not a climber? Bring your binoculars to watch them from Yosemite Valley or take a beginner rock climbing class.

8. Ice Skate in Curry Village

Ice Skating Rink at Half Dome Village
Ice Skating Rink at Half Dome VillageElicali/Flickr

When Yosemite is covered in powdery blankets of snow, the valley becomes a winter wonderland. Skate underneath the Half Dome then take a break and make s’mores over a fire pit.

9. Explore History

John Muir in Yosemite
John Muir in YosemitePublic Domain

Yosemite is the wild, wild West. From its earliest Native American inhabitants, to the mid-19th-century California Gold Rush, and the later arrival of ranchers, loggers, and hoteliers, the land surrounding Yosemite National Park is amazingly rich in historical sites. Near the Mariposa sequoia grove, step across a covered bridge into a the the Pioneer Yosemite History Center, a collection of historic buildings from Yosemite’s past. In Yosemite Valley’s Visitor Center, pose next to a life-sized John Muir as you learn of his love for the park. Near neighboring Mariposa, stop at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum to see a huge, 13.8-pound nugget of gold.

10. Go on a Tour or Ranger-Led Activity

Yosemite Junior Ranger Walk. Photo by Grant Ordelheide
Yosemite Junior Ranger Walk. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

Follow an expert. Come to watch waterfalls in spring, go hiking in the Sierra Nevada high country in summer, roast marshmallows over your campfire in fall, and go skiing and snowshoeing in winter. Timing your visit to coincide with one of the region’s many festivals will only enhance your Yosemite vacation.