12 adventures in Yosemite Nationwide Park for households with youngsters

Yosemite is an 1,169-square-mile nationwide park within the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. It was first protected by President Lincoln in 1864 earlier than turning into a nationwide park since 1890. It accommodates a tremendous assortment of pure wonders, together with world-class waterfalls, large granite options, gorgeous mountain lakes, large sequoia bushes, well-known viewpoints and miles upon miles of trails.

Yosemite will get about four million guests a yr. And sadly, there are additionally about 15 fatalities a yr, mostly because of drowning, falling and vehicular accidents. It is a wild place, so please use warning and customary sense.



As a result of Yosemite is within the Sierra, the time of yr you go to has a huge impact on the place you possibly can go and what you are able to do. Within the winter, Tioga Street, which crosses Yosemite east to west, is buried in snow and closed, so there isn’t any entry to Tuolumne Meadows. Likewise, Glacier Level Street is closed. Due to this, within the winter, chances are you’ll be required to hold or set up tire chains. It may very well be sunny and exquisite at some point and snowing the subsequent. As well as, the Mariposa shuttle doesn’t run within the winter, and most (however not all) of the campgrounds are closed. In winter, it’s additionally a lot much less crowded. Spring can convey campground or service closures because of flooding or winter storm injury. Summer season is hearth season, which may shut roads or fill the Valley with smoke.


On the west facet, Yosemite has three entrances. From north to south, they’re Hwy 140, Hwy 120 and Hwy 41. Hwy 140 (El Portal entrance) is the bottom elevation and the one which leads proper into the Valley.

Hwy 120 (Huge Oak Flat entrance) goes by the Tuolumne and Merced sequoia groves. This highway turns into Tioga Street, or you possibly can take a department down into the Valley at Crane Flat the place there may be additionally a gasoline station.

Hwy 41 (Wawona entrance) goes by the Mariposa sequoia groves and the Glacier Level Street spur earlier than heading down into the Valley.

On the east facet, Tioga Cross (Hwy 120) is the one entrance, and it’s at a excessive elevation (9,943 ft). From there, the highway goes by means of Tuolumne Meadows, previous Tenaya Lake and Olmstead Level, after which to Crane Flat the place you possibly can go all the way down to the Valley or proceed west towards the coast.


There are a lot of choices for lodging and the nearer you’re to the excessive season, the additional forward you should make reservations. Tenting reservations for the campgrounds in Yosemite (particularly within the Valley) are taken inside hours (and even minutes) of them coming out there. There are walk-in websites, however traces might be lengthy and kind early.

Moreover common tent and RV campgrounds, there are tent cabins (some heated!) and numerous lodges throughout the park. The Awhwahnee Lodge (at the moment renamed to the Majestic Yosemite Lodge) is the cream of the crop and the value displays that. Exterior the park you may have many selections. Once we’re visiting the Valley, we normally keep at one of many resorts in El Portal, simply outdoors the Hwy 140 entrance. If these are booked or too costly, the city of Mariposa is our fallback. We did as soon as keep in one of many heated tents in Half Dome Village in January, and that was a enjoyable expertise (however these tents are normally extra costly than a lodge room in El Portal). On the east facet, I’ve stayed in Lee Vining. In the summertime, we attempt to camp however have additionally stayed at rental houses in and round Groveland for group occasions.

If you happen to’re visiting Yosemite as a once-in-a-lifetime journey, I’d advocate staying within the park in the event you can. It should save time, make entry to the shuttle simple and make it simpler to do morning and nighttime actions, together with some ranger-led alternatives (morning espresso with a ranger, nighttime campfires, stargazing walks, moonlight walks and evening pictures).


Groceries can be found at Yosemite Village (within the Valley) and Tuolumne Meadows. There are eating places in Yosemite Village, Half Dome Village (beforehand referred to as Camp Curry) and on the Majestic. Most interesting to youngsters is perhaps the pizza at Half Dome Village, however the wait might be lengthy if the park is crowded. Additional out, there’s a grill in Tuolumne Meadows, eating places in Wawona/Fish Camp, and among the resorts in El Portal have eating places.

Yosemite has a number of wildlife that may make the most of out there meals. Be sure to comply with the restrictions for preserving animals (bears included) out of your meals, resembling eradicating all meals out of your automobile.


Within the shoulder seasons, the climate can change shortly – even the Valley ground is at four,000 ft – so pack hats, sunscreen and lip balm all yr spherical. Additionally, the mountains will dry you out shortly, so convey issues to hold water round with you. And relying on the season (and when that is will range yr to yr relying on the snowfall), the mosquitoes might be hungry, so don’t overlook your favourite repellant. (Don’t fear about bringing bear spray; it’s not allowed within the park.)

12 Enjoyable issues to do with youngsters in Yosemite

1. Viewpoints

For an easy-to-get-to viewpoint, cease at Tunnel View. It is a quick drive up Wawona Street from the place it climbs out of the Valley close to Bridalveil Falls. You get a view of the Valley framed by El Capitan on the left and Bridalveil Falls on the appropriate. Within the distance, you possibly can see Half Dome, which makes an awesome backdrop for a household photograph. There’s a bronze map of the Valley you should use to see the place you’re going or the place you’ve been.

One other traditional view is Glacier Level. It has an edge-on view of Half Dome and an overhead view of Vernal and Nevada Falls, plus you possibly can look down into the principle a part of the Valley. My different favourite drive-up view is Olmstead Level. You possibly can see Cloud’s Relaxation and Half Dome within the distance and it’s a simple place to expertise the naked granite.

12 adventures in Yosemite for families with kids by Ryan Idryo for HIke it Baby

Tunnel View

2. Enjoying at a Merced River Seashore

The Merced River winds its means by means of the Valley. Within the hotter months, wading within the river is a number of enjoyable. In any other case, throwing stones into the river has been a favourite pastime for our son for years. Cathedral Seashore has a shocking view of El Capitan and in the event you stroll a bit upriver, the Three Brothers. Sentinel Seashore has a superb view of Yosemite Falls as does Swinging Bridge. The seashore behind the principle Village parking space has a superb view of Half Dome. Within the spring, the water is greater, quicker, colder and harmful, so train warning! Within the late summer time or fall, you possibly can typically step throughout the river with out getting your ft moist.

12 adventures in Yosemite for families with kids by Ryan Idryo for HIke it Baby

Merced River seashore

three. Simple waterfall hikes

The hikes to the bottom of Bridalveil and Yosemite Falls are each quick and absolutely paved. Bridalveil is a bit greater than a mile, and Yosemite is a few half mile. Each additionally produce other approaches if you would like a extra leisurely or scenic route. Within the spring or early summer time, these are thrilling falls and the ultimate strategy might be chilly, moist and slippery. Within the fall and winter, they are often solely dry. However there are different waterfalls within the park you possibly can discover that modify in distance.

12 adventures in Yosemite for families with kids by Ryan Idryo for HIke it Baby

Nevada Falls

four. Mirror Lake hike

That is a simple, pretty flat hike within the Valley that’s 2 miles roundtrip, however with potentialities for extensions. You will get to it from shuttle cease #17, the North Pines campground or the Majestic lodge. The path is paved as much as the lake, and pets and bicycles are allowed as much as the top of the pavement. There’s additionally a restroom (however no water) right here. It’s potential to get car entry thus far if in case you have a disabled placard, however the parking may be very restricted. Within the excessive summer time and fall, Mirror Lake could be a lot smaller.

For an extended hike, you possibly can proceed previous Mirror Lake for one more 1.2 miles after which return on the opposite facet. If you happen to got here through shuttle cease #17, you possibly can take a brief connector and return through a special, wilder path to the Majestic lodge (shuttle cease #three).

12 adventures in Yosemite for families with kids by Ryan Idryo for HIke it Baby

Mirror Lake

5. Sentinel Dome hike

It is a barely harder hike apart from the final bit, which is a brief, steep climb. It’s 2.2 miles roundtrip from Glacier Level Street. The highest of Sentinel Dome provides wonderful views throughout the Valley to Yosemite Falls and up the valley to Half Dome and the assorted peaks behind. On a transparent day, you possibly can supposedly see all the way in which to Mt. Diablo within the San Francisco East Bay. The highest might be fairly windy and colder than the hike, so be ready for that. Additionally, there are steep, lethal drops, so hold the children shut in the event you resolve to do that hike.

Alongside the way in which, strive sniffing the cracks between the bark of among the bigger pine bushes. A few of them scent like butterscotch! From right here, you possibly can hike to Glacier Level, or you possibly can take a semi-loop to Taft Level after which again to the trailhead. Taft has a tremendous view of El Capitan, particularly on the finish of the day.

12 adventures in Yosemite for families with kids by Ryan Idryo for HIke it Baby

Sentinel Dome

6. Tenaya Lake

Tenaya Lake is a really stunning lake simply to cease at and admire the surroundings. There are a number of parking areas proper alongside the highway to Tuolumne Meadows. In the summertime, you possibly can swim or wade. It sits at eight,200 ft, so it is a nice possibility for the peak of summer time. The elevation additionally means you may get a sunburn in a short time. The northeast finish has an enormous sandy seashore; the center has an awesome viewpoint and some locations with sand and others with shallow granite slabs; and the southwest finish has a smaller sandy seashore and nice views of the granite on the reverse finish of the lake. Anyplace at Tenaya Lake is a good place for a picnic lunch.

12 adventures in Yosemite for families with kids by Ryan Idryo for HIke it Baby

Taneya Lake

7. Domes in Tuolumne Meadows (Pothole or Lembert)

For a shocking view of Tuolumne, climb one of many domes. Lembert Dome simply off Tioga Street is a traditional, however at three miles and 900 ft of elevation acquire, it may be so much, particularly if the elevation (eight,500 ft) is attending to you. Pothole Dome on the western finish of the meadow is lesser recognized and a better hike – lower than 1/three the gap and 1/three the elevation – but it surely nonetheless has an awesome view. As with Sentinel Dome, there are sheer drops right here so watch your kiddos if wanted.

12 adventures in Yosemite for families with kids by Ryan Idryo for HIke it Baby

Pothole Dome

eight. Vernal and Nevada Falls hike

This is among the all-time traditional hikes of Yosemite, although not a simple one. We’ve executed it twice with a child, as soon as carried and as soon as on his personal ft. It’s accessible from shuttle cease #16 (Completely happy Isles). There’s additionally a parking space between Completely happy Isles and Half Dome Village, however the shuttle will prevent some mountain climbing. The path to the highest of Vernal Fall is about three miles roundtrip and 1,000 ft of acquire. To the highest of Nevada Falls is about 7 miles roundtrip and a couple of,000 ft of acquire (in the event you do each routes). The start of the path is an extended, sluggish grind upward. You shortly get nicely above the river and have fascinating views over the wall to it.

After the footbridge with the view of Vernal Falls, you may have a selection between the Mist Path with its huge steps or the John Muir Path. Mist Path is shorter and steeper, extra crowded and has a closeup view of the falls. If the water is flowing arduous, the path might be lined in mist, the steps might be slippery and also you’ll get moist. The John Muir Path is calmer, however a number of further effort in the event you’re going to Vernal and never Nevada Falls.

Tip: Going up the steps is simpler than coming down, particularly if it’s getting darkish, so I want to go up the Mist Path, proceed to Nevada Falls and are available down the John Muir path. I normally take a break at Emerald Pool simply above Vernal Falls and on the space simply above Nevada Falls. Past Nevada, the path continues to Little Yosemite Valley, Half Dome (in the event you’re climbing Half Dome, that is just the start) and wilder areas of Yosemite.

12 adventures in Yosemite for families with kids by Ryan Idryo for HIke it Baby

Vernal Falls

9. Go to a Sequoia Grove

Yosemite has three sequoia groves. Tuolumne and Merced Grove are within the north; Tuolumne is simply east of Crane Flat and Merced Grove is about 6 miles west of Crane Flat. Each are smaller with about two dozen mature bushes and contain a 1- to 1.5-mile hike downhill to get to the bushes. Mariposa Grove within the south is way bigger and extra unfold out and has a wide range of trails – some flat and straightforward and a few hilly. Many of the yr you must take a shuttle from the parking space to the grove trailhead.

Mariposa Grove has the well-known bushes like Grizzly Big, Fallen Monarch, California Tunnel Tree, Three Graces and Wawona Tunnel Tree (fallen). The Grizzly Big Loop is 2 simple miles. The Huge Timber Loop is lower than a half mile and is wheelchair-accessible.

12 adventures in Yosemite for families with kids by Ryan Idryo for HIke it Baby

Mariposa Grove

10. Miwok experiences and Yosemite Village

The Yosemite Museum (the primary nationwide park museum) space has some fascinating displays. Simply outdoors the doorway to the constructing is a Miwok-style bark hut and a sequoia tree slice. Contained in the museum are some artifact displays, together with some very spectacular baskets. A separate room holds momentary displays with wonderful artwork. For youths, there are some touchable displays and there may be normally an individual doing a type of Present and Inform with demonstration. Behind the museum is a partial recreation of a Miwok village with a wide range of pattern constructions.

Subsequent to the museum is the Customer Middle which has a big 3D map of Central Yosemite together with a bookstore and reward store. That is the place to stamp your NPS passport and decide up or flip within the Junior Ranger booklet. Subsequent to the Customer Middle is the Ansel Adams Gallery the place you should purchase prints or reproductions from Ansel Adams and different artists. And past that could be a deli, grocery retailer and grill.

12 adventures in Yosemite for families with kids by Ryan Idryo for HIke it Baby

Miwok hut

11. Programmed actions

There are a selection of programmed actions that you are able to do year-round. Some are free and a few value further. Once you enter the park, you’ll be given a newspaper-style Yosemite Information handout with the seasonal schedule. Actions run all day and even into the evening. If you happen to’re staying at a campground, there is perhaps a campfire with tales or music. There are dawn walks for early risers and night astronomy talks for evening owls. There are skilled pictures excursions, guided hikes, artwork courses, reside storytellers, video documentary showings with discussions, and ranger walks for teenagers and adults. The Junior Ranger program, really helpful for ages 7-13, begins on the Customer Middle and features a Yosemite particular exercise booklet. There’s additionally a less complicated program for youthful youngsters. Go to the Nationwide Park Service web site for a preview of the actions.

12 adventures in Yosemite for families with kids by Ryan Idryo for HIke it Baby


12. Hetch Hetchy

If you happen to’re visiting Yosemite within the low season and wish to see greater than the Valley, otherwise you wish to escape the Valley crowds, Hetch Hetchy is the place. Initially a valley like Yosemite, it was dammed and is now a reservoir for San Francisco. Nevertheless, it nonetheless has huge granite cliffs, spring wildflowers, waterfalls and wonderful mountain climbing with a really lengthy mountain climbing season (though it may be fairly sizzling in the summertime). Shorter hikes to think about are Lookout Level (2 miles roundtrip) and the bottom of the 1,400-foot Wapama Falls (5 miles roundtrip).

If you happen to’re searching for extra adventures, some extra concepts locations we’ve explored are Cathedral Lakes, North Dome, Glen Aulin, Elizabeth Lake, Could Lake, Gaylor Lakes and Dewey Level.

12 adventures in Yosemite for families with kids by Ryan Idryo for HIke it Baby

Hetch Hetchy

Have you ever visited Yosemite Nationwide Park? In that case, what are a few of your favourite family-friendly out of doors adventures within the space? Tell us within the feedback beneath!

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Photographs supplied by Ryan Idryo. Function photograph by Vong Hamilton.

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