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Late May 2023
Blog What to Know When Visiting Yosemite - Right Now
Steve | 05/23/2023Attractions, Family Friendly, Hiking, Museums, History & Culture, Nature, Photography |   

What to Know When Visiting Yosemite - Now

The 2022/2023 winter season in Yosemite National Park was truly one for the record books! The park received so much snow, 15 feet plus in Yosemite Valley alone, that many things were buried and operations in park had to be temporarily suspended at various times. Fortunately the seasons do change and the snow stopped falling. Now, with winter many weeks behind us, all that amazing snow, especially the record amount that accumulated in the higher reaches of the park, is melting. All that record snowfall means one thing in Spring and early Summer - amazing amounts of runoff. This is giving us magnificent waterfalls (both their size and the shear number of them...), rising river levels, many seasonal ponds & pools in the meadows and other low-lying areas, and not surprisingly - some park impacts. 

Here's what you can expect if you visit now and tips how best to navigate the park this late spring/early summer season.

Note - conditions are dynamic, especially as day-time temps are varying a bit. So we highly recommend that before you embark on your adventure to Yosemite, you are up-to-date on current park conditions. How do you find them? We can offer two resources: Yosemite's Current Conditions page, or you can call us at (559) 683-4636, or stop in at our Visitor Center in Oakhurst before you head into the park. 

Yosemite is OPEN & No Reservations Required

There's a couple of common of questions we're getting, so let's address those right up front...

Is Yosemite Open? Yes it is! There are some specific closures (that we'll discuss further below) but the Park is open.

Do I need a Reservation to get into the park? More good news - reservations are NOT required this summer to enter Yosemite National Park.

Okay - now on to the details...

  • Mariposa Grove is open and so is the road (as of Friday, May 26) but the Mariposa Grove Shuttle is not yet up and running. Vehicles displaying a disability placard, and bicycles, and will be allowed on the road. For everyone else getting to the grove itself will be by hiking the Mariposa Grove Road or the Washburn Trail (trail head is at the east end of the parking lot). Both options are 2 miles each way with a 500 ft elevation gain. Budget around 3 to 3 1/2 hours for the total round trip - or more if you really want to enjoy your time amongst the Giants!
  • Big Oak Flat Road between the Groveland entrance (HWY 120) and the Merced Grove is currently closed - so there is no access to the Yosemite Valley from this entrance. The road is expected to open on Saturday, June 10, likely with some delays initially. Note - Hogden Meadow is currently accessible from the Groveland entrance.

Yosemite National Park Public Information MapClick on to view Yosemite National Park's interactive Public Information Map

  • The Merced and Tuolumne Groves (just west and east of Crane Flat, respectively) are open. As a result of the road closure mentioned above, you currently can't get to them from the Groveland entrance but instead from Yosemite Valley only via the Big Oak Flat Road.
  • Hetch Hetchy is open (hours are 7 am to 9 pm). You can only access from outside the park on HWY 120. Check out our Travel Story Judi's Jaunts - Check Out Hetch Hetchy for more info about this "hidden' area of the park.
  • Bridalveil Fall parking area & main viewing area near the base of the fall are not expected to open till mid-fall as work continues. The good news is that Bridalveil Fall can be seen and experienced from the parking area along South Side Drive and by a short hike along the open portion of trail from the South Side Drive parking area.
  • Tioga & Glacier Point Roads are both still closed. Crews are actively working to clear the roads and make them safe for visitors. Tioga Road is currently expected to open late-June to mid-July. Glacier Point Road is reported to be clear as of the writing of this, but there are some remaining road repairs required before it can open to the public. Those are expected to be complete around mid-June to early July. There will be 30 minute delays once Glacier Point Road opens.
  • Valley campground operations can, and have been impacted by flooding. Lower and North Pines were temporarily closed but are now open (Note - there may be some limits on specific site availability due to some localized flooding in the campgrounds). Status will change depending on conditions. Use these links for more info - Yosemite campgrounds, Yosemite Hospitality services and lodging
  • The new Yosemite Valley Welcome Center on the south end of the Village Store is currently expected to open around mid-June. Visitor information & services can be found at the existing Yosemite Valley Visitor Center in the center of the Yosemite Village. 
  • Yosemite Hospitality has announced the High Sierra camps will, unfortunately, not open this year.  You can find more info, including their statement, here.
  • STAY AWAY FROM & OUT OF FLOWING WATER!  Watch & follow warning signs around the Park.  Although the water is really beautiful, it is swift, very cold (it is fed by melting high elevation snow after all), and very dangerous. There is NO rafting, swimming, or wading in any Yosemite river at this time. The beach areas around the Merced River (e.g. Sentinel Beach and Cathedral Beach) are also temporarily closed.
  • Yosemite Valley will be very busy with little parking availability, so if you are going to the Valley, we highly recommend that you avoid peak visitation times by coming in EARLY MORNING or LATE AFTERNOON. The park is open 24 hours a day* which allows for a lot of options on how to experience it. (Night time is special time in the park - check out our article about stargazing tips for the region.) 

*(with the exception of Hetch Hetchy which does have limited visiting hours)

  • Best way to get in and see Yosemite is to take a Guided Local Tour or ride YARTS public transportation. By talking these alternatives you help reduce the number of vehicles in the park and, especially with a tour, you will get a wonderful introduction to the park, it's features, history, and so much more. You don't have to watch were you are going while soaking in the amazing scenary and... you won't have to try and find parking! 
  • Yosemite Valley Shuttle Buses are running every day. They are free and it's really one of the best ways to get around Yosemite Valley if you are not on a tour. Routes and stops information including updates will be on the Park’s Public Transportation webpage.
  • Visit the historic town of Wawona near the south gate entrance of Yosemite. Wawona was a historic and welcome stop along the way to Yosemite Valley for many travelers in the early days of the park. Here you can experience the Yosemite History Center, take a stagecoach ride, hike Chilnualna Falls (short or long hike), take a stroll along the dog-friendly Wawona Meadow Loop Trail, have lunch at the Wawona Hotel (we hear that it is the oldest continuously operation hotel in Califormia), and much more.  It’s the perfect Yosemite stop especially during the busy times in Yosemite Valley (10 am to 2 pm - are the busiest times in the Valley).

We've got a lot more information about many of the major projects in the park, from the road rehabilitation project on Glacier Point Road to the Bridalveil Fall Restoration effort, in our Travel story: What's New in Yosemite This Year. There's also a host of general info about the park on our Yosemite page, plus links to other articles and seasonal itineraries and well as info about lodging, events, activities and more.

And a couple of last reminders:

  • Day-use reservations are NOT required to enter Yosemite National Park for the remainder of 2023.
  • With so much to see and do in Yosemite National Park, we can't encourage you enough to check out our Tours and Transportation page for information about tour companies and public transpiration.

Have fun and please let us know if you have any additional questions.

Our annual Visit Yosemite | Madera County Visitors Guide can answer all your questions about visiting California's Gateway to Yosemite. From the park itself to the museums, wineries, art galleries and more throughout Madera County, our guide can help you plan the perfect vacation. Please note that we mail to the USA only, but anyone can download the guide.
Visit Yosemite - Madera County
Oakhurst Visitor Center, 40343 Highway 41, Oakhurst, CA 93644
(559) 683-4636
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Winter Hours - Monday thru Saturday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

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