Yosemite’s Seasons and Crowds

Yosemite’s best (and worst) in every season

The above article in SmarterTravel is a great rundown on Yosemite National Park’s appeal and problems in various seasons, with loads of solid details you should hold onto if you’re planning a trip there.

It is also useful in a big-picture way because the lessons can be applied to most popular parks in the U.S. and Canada. Many backpacker types come to the U.S. over the summer thinking they’ll save lots of money and have a great time by camping in national parks from coast to coast. But often these parks are as crowded as any tourist spot anywhere and both campgrounds and hotels get filled up in a hurry.

It again comes down to timing. If you go somewhere in the summer that everyone else is going to in the summer, get ready for peak prices and peak crowds. If you can go somewhere like Yosemite before or after the school break, however, you can wander around for hours on trails without seeing anyone.

Last summer I met someone from Wyoming Tourism at a conference. He said even in summer, you can avoid the herds if you just get off the beaten path a bit. “There can be 5,000 people massed around the Old Faithful geyser,” he said, “But go two miles away and there’s absolutely nobody.” He also said someone had done a study in Grand Teton Park and found that something like two thirds of visitors never went more than 25 feet from the roads. Get off the beaten path–literally–and you’ll have room to breathe.

  1. Chad

    I used to go camping with my family in over crowded campgrounds, and we had fun. However, give me a few friends, a canoe, and the middle of nowhere and I’m happy. The fewer people, the more amazing everything seems to be.

  2. Vince

    A good tip on when to visit Yellowstone National Park would be in September or early October since half of the more than 3 million annual visitors come to Yellowstone in July and August.

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