Yosemite opens today: Travel tips

Yosemite is officially open today, day-use reservations are required if you’re not staying in the park, and not all facilities and services are available.

Here’s useful information to help families plan a trip to Yosemite this summer.

Depending on health and safety, things can change, so check Yosemite National Park website also.


Day-use reservation

From June until October 2020, a day-use reservation is required, if you’re not staying in the park (see next section).

Day-use reservation is good for seven consecutive days.

Number of day-use reservations is limited to 1,700 vehicles per day. Reservations for June and July are available now, July 1, reservations for August will become available, and so on for successive months.

Book your reservation here: Recreation.gov

Tip: Day tours to Yosemite, provided by local businesses, alleviate need to make day-use reservation.


Staying in the park

If you are staying in the park, you do not need a day-use reservation.

You will need to show your lodging reservation at the entrance kiosk.

Lodging available now are two hotels, The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Valley Lodge, Curry Village (50 percent capacity), vacation rentals at Yosemite West, Foresta, Wawona, and two campgrounds in the national park.



Yosemite Valley
Upper Pine Campground
Curry Village
Bike rental
Grocery, delis, cafes
Indian Cultural Village

Glacier Point
Glacier Point store, snack stand

Wawona Store, Pine Tree Market
Pioneer Yosemite History Center (no stage rides)

Tuolumne Meadows
Tioga Road opens June 15
Trails (see tip about trails below)



Bridalveil Fall and Lower Yosemite Fall areas
Shuttle buses for Yosemite Valley, Mariposa Grove, Tuolumne Meadows
Visitor Centers
Ranger programs
Rafting (could open up)
Tuolumne Meadows lodges and store – closed for season
Wawona Hotel – closed for season


Travel Tips

  • Know before you go

– Make a checklist. Where are you going to stay, do you need a day-use reservation, how will you get around Yosemite Valley or Mariposa Grove (no shuttle buses), what services are available that you might need, e.g. bike rental, groceries.

– Visitor centers are closed, and rangers may not be available to ask questions. Research trails, plan your activities in advance, know new visitor guidelines.

– Start early to avoid crowds on trails.

– On trails, maintain a safe distance of 6ft between people not in your “social bubble.” Where trail is narrow, wear cloth face coverings (bandanas are okay), as recommended by the CDC.

– Delay your visit to the park if you are sick, or someone in your family has tested positive for the coronavirus.

– Cell service is limited in the park, so print out or take screenshots of reservation confirmations. Park entrance fees paid with credit card only.


  • Mist Trail is one way
  • In Yosemite Valley, trail to Vernal Fall is spectacular, and always crowded in summer.
    From 9am to 4pm, the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall is one way, going up. To return from Vernal Fall, take the trail to Clark Point, then follow John Muir trail back down to the footbridge junction.


    • Bike around Yosemite Valley

    Yosemite Valley shuttle bus will not run this summer.

    Bike rental is available in Yosemite Village, and the bike paths in the valley are a great way to get around.


    • Tuolumne Meadows

    Tuolumne Meadows is wide open high country, and less crowded than Yosemite Valley.

    Hike up Pothole Dome (panorama in video), or take the Lyell Fork Trails or hike to Elizabeth Lake, kids can just play in the meadows.

    Tip: Great picnic stop is Tenaya Lake, and a favorite view of Half Dome is from Olmsted Point, on Tioga Rd. to Tuolumne Meadows.


    • Glacier Point

    Glacier Point has spectacular views of Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls. But the overlook viewpoints can get crowded.

    Hike up Sentinel Dome (second highest viewpoint in Yosemite Valley), plenty of room for everyone, even little kids can do it.


    • Visiting Mariposa Grove

    Normally, to visit Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias, you park at the Welcome Plaza, take the free shuttle bus to grove arrival area.

    This summer, the shuttle bus is not in service.

    It’s a 2 miles each way from the parking lot to Mariposa Grove. Teens won’t mind an additional four miles, as well as hiking the Mariposa Grove. but a lot for younger kids.

    Tip: A smaller grove of sequoias, Tuolumne Grove, near Crane Flat, is accessible.

    • Yosemite Family Hotels and Vacation Rentals

    Check out Travel for Kids hand-selected list of hotels and and house rentals, all styles and price ranges. Our lists are updated to reflect new 2020 visitor guidelines for Yosemite. Staying in hotels or house rentals inside the park, a day-use reservation is not necessary. For accommodations outside the national park, you will need a day-use reservation to go into the park.

    Yosemite Family Hotels
    Yosemite Family House Rentals

    Read our blog post “Rent a house in Yosemite” for tips about vacation rentals.


    And of course, lots of fun things to do with kids in Yosemite on Travel for Kids.