A visit to Yosemite National Park provides some of the most breathtaking views on the planet. It is also relatively easy to get to and happens to be located in the most populated state in the United States. As a result, there are massive crowds in Yosemite at certain times of the year. Find out how to maximize your viewing pleasure, while minimizing the difficulties of sharing the experience with over four million people a year.
Imagine a 360-degree perfect picturesque view of waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, and a group of deer grazing in a meadow. You hear nothing but the sounds of a slowly flowing river and a few birds chirping nearby. You’ve navigated through the crowds in Yosemite National Park for this one moment to lock hands with your partner and be amazed by the beauty.
Bam! All of sudden two large buses pull up, unload a hundred people with cell phones in hand, and your magical moment is lost.
Yosemite is known for two things, its incredible views and massive crowds. It is one of the busiest national parks in the United States and receives a visit from over 4 million people annually. But, can you enjoy the incredible views and a romantic adventure in nature without the crowds in Yosemite putting a damper on your trip?
We’ll give you a perspective from our trip, which was a surprise birthday gift. We’ll also share what makes the park a romantic adventure and how we attempted to navigate through the potential romantic breakers like the crowds in Yosemite.
There is something inherently romantic about being in the great outdoors. American’s National Parks have preserved nature at its finest almost as well as anywhere in the world. Some people are not thrilled about being in nature. I can think of a lot of comical scenes in movies where city folks find themselves having a miserable time on a camping or fishing trip after being bitten up by bugs or falling into a patch of poison ivy.
If you are one of those people, I challenge you to visit Yosemite and not be overtaken by a feeling of romantic awe. Here are some reasons Yosemite will guide you to that conclusion.
Your first picturesque view will most likely be Tunnel View depending on how you enter the park. This is the same view visitors have witnessed and been snapping pictures of since the park was declared protective land by President Abraham Lincoln in the 1860’s. This is one of the many views you will be able to sit and stare at for hours if time allows. Sure they’ll be crowds in Yosemite sharing your view, but there’s enough to go around for everyone’s viewing pleasure.
They’re over twenty waterfalls in the park ranging from 25 to over 2,000 feet high. The time of year and amount of rain and snow that year will determine how many are flowing strongly during your visit. Is there anything more romantic than staring at the tremendous power of a waterfall covered by a vibrant rainbow?
If you want adventure, Yosemite’s got it. When you visit the park and think a waterfall or granite cliff is impressive, chances are you can hike to the top of it.
A hike to the top of Vernal Falls is one of the most popular hikes in the park. Getting there requires you conquer the Mist Trail where you will most likely get very wet and enjoy a moderate hike that gives beginners the experience of unmatched adventure within the park.
The ultimate adrenaline rush for some more advanced adventure seekers is to hike to the top of Half Dome with a partial use of a cable system.
To some of you, wildlife should be listed on the romantic breaker list instead of being a maker. But, if you are a responsible visitor there is only enjoyment and excitement to be found in the home of numerous mammals, amphibians, birds, reptiles, fish, and insects of all kinds.
Stick to the trails, follow the guidelines, be aware of your surroundings and if you do spot wildlife such as a Grey Owl, Big Horn Sheep, or even a Black Bear, you’ll be seeing them in a way that is respectful to their habitat and rarely results in an aggressive confrontation. However, too often people encounter a Black Bear or other animals because they were irresponsible and left food in their car, outside the campground or not properly secured in a garbage receptacle. These situations become very unsafe for both humans and the animals.
I desperately wanted to see a Black Bear in the wild on our first trip to the park. It has been a dream to observe one, but the best I could do on this trip was the fake giant stuffed bear outside the men’s room. Maybe you’ll have better luck as long as the crowds in Yosemite don’t scare them all away first.
There are limited places left in the United States with the experience like Yosemite that the cell phone carriers haven’t found a way to infiltrate. Currently, phone and Internet service are limited. Sure, there are probably ways to work around this. But, don’t. Use your time to disconnect with your phone and connect with your partner.
Enjoy the feeling of peace and tranquility that is becoming harder to find in our everyday lives. Of course, when crowds in Yosemite unload from a bus you might feel like you are in Disney instead. But, with over 700,000 acres of land, you’ll be able to find plenty of areas of remoteness.
Yosemite is the third most popular national park in the United States with its visitor count grows every year. It has also been underfunded for numerous years and at the time of this article has been put under a hiring freeze, resulting in the prevention of filling various seasonal positions to oversee the park during its busiest time of the year.
None of this should prevent you from experiencing this world treasure. But, know that they result in an increase of potential romantic breakers that need extra planning to circumvent. With some careful planning, you can overcome many of these listed below.
Crowds in Yosemite
It should be obvious by now that crowds in Yosemite have a way of negatively affecting every part of the trip. Viewpoints, hikes, restaurants, campground, roads can all be affected by the crowds. It can sometimes be difficult to share that romantic moment with your partner when there are hundreds of people around.
Traffic and Construction
If you are trying to get to the Valley Floor where the main campgrounds, hotels, restaurants, hiking trails and views are located, you may experience delays entering and exiting the park due to the thousands of other people trying to do the same. Construction on the road doesn’t help either.
There is a free shuttle bus system, and the buses get their own lane to zip by traffic. If you are able to park your car near the visitor center at the Valley Floor, you can try to jump on a shuttle to reach the other parts of the park and popular viewpoints or hikes. But, be warned that at busy times the shuttle will be too full to load any more passengers.
Deaths might be rare at the park, but automobile accidents happen too often from people not paying attention or speeding. Also, many animals including Black Bears are killed in Yosemite by drivers.
This was the only part I disliked about the Yosemite experience. There are too many people that want to drive over the speed limit on curvy and narrow roads. I saw cars passing on double yellow line roads and was often tailgated. I refused though to go much faster than the speed limit and often times I went even slower.
There were a couple of times I saw a hiker or bicycle rider sharing the road, and if I wasn’t going slow and focusing, I could have easily hit them coming around a turn. Don’t take a risk despite your four-wheel drive jeep. Be respectful of other drivers, pedestrians, and wildlife and keep it slow. If you are in a rush, Yosemite isn’t the place you should have planned a getaway.
Unless the park has marked an area as a designated swimming, stay out of the water. Numerous people have drowned by just wading in what looked like a stream or river and were overtaken by the currents.
Best Place For a Romantic Kiss:
There are lots of places to choose from. You really can’t go wrong picking a spot in front of any of the waterfalls or the summit point of a hike. But, we recommend being as remote as possible. Get away from the crowds in Yosemite and the popular spots for a moment and enjoy some alone time for that kiss.
Our list of top tips will help you find that special spot.
7 Top Tips to Avoid the Crowds In Yosemite:
1. Pick a Different Time of the Year
The summer is the busiest time of the year at the park. July, for example, sees almost five times more visitors than in January. Your best bet to avoid parts of the park being closed due to snow is to visit in early spring or late fall. If you are into having a snowy experience, there is skiing available at Badger Pass.
2. Walk Everywhere if Physically Able
Driving from viewpoint to viewpoint is only going to lead to traffic, a difficulty of parking, and following the crowds in Yosemite throughout your day. Park for the day and walk to everything you want to see or take the free shuttle system to get to the far off points.
You may find that the shuttle is jammed packed in the summer. In that case, you can walk to most of the trailheads from the valley floor and visitor center. Sure, it might take you an hour to get to the furthest points, but you’ll be enjoying the incredible views and scenery on the way.
3. Find Off the Beaten Path Hikes and Views
There are hikes like the Mist Trail and others off of the Valley Floor that is the most popular and for a good reason. We hiked the Mist Trail and highly recommend this unique experience for first-time visitors who can tolerate the crowds. But, a good guidebook will point you to some less known trails that still deliver outstanding experiences.
An example is some of the trails off of Glacier Point Road outside of the Valley. We hiked up to Sentinel Dome and received in return breathtaking views, occasional long moments of remoteness, a moderately challenging hike, and a lack or crowds in Yosemite.
4. Make Reservations for Quieter Meals
Most of the quick serve eating establishments will be packed in the summer. Bringing your own cooler and having a picnic will help save you time and frustration from waiting in lines. Plus, you can enjoy lunch with a view rather than in a cafeteria.
You can also enjoy some finer dining, and a quieter meal at several sit down restaurants. There are at least three finer dining restaurants within the park – The Majestic Yosemite Dining Room, Mountain Room Restaurant & Lounge, and the Big Trees Lodge Dining room. We tried the Majestic, and Big Trees and both were an excellent experience after long days of hiking.
5. Get to the Valley Floor Early and Leave Late
The earlier you get to the park and in particular Valley Floor the better. Parking can all be filled up by mid-morning and hiking trails already jammed. Wake up and get inside the park before 9 am if possible.
When leaving you’ll be heavily fighting the crowds around dinner time when most of the day-trippers are also leaving. If you can, leave after dusk, and you’ll have the exit roads to yourself.
How about enjoying the night act and staying for a show of the stars? You won’t have many crowds in Yosemite at night and can receive a free astronomy program led by park rangers.
6. Stay Outside of the Valley Floor
Most people when thinking of Yosemite think only of the Valley Floor. That is where the main visitor center and larger campgrounds and hotels are located. But, there are other areas like Wawona, which housed the park’s earliest visitors, where you can stay to be a little more secluded. We stayed in a privately owned condo through Airbnb within the National Park.
7. Remember that You are Actually a Member of the Crowd
Lastly, after you have followed all the strategies to try and avoid the crowds in Yosemite, you’ll need to remember that you are a member of the crowd too. The same reason that you flew across the country or drove hundreds of miles to get to the park is the same reason tens of thousands of others did on that same day. Because it’s awesome!
In the end, if everyone is respectful of the environment, to wildlife, and each other we can all enjoy the experience together.
We didn’t let the crowds in Yosemite ruin our incredible experience to one of the world’s greatest treasures and neither should you. Everyone should experience the picturesque views in person at least once in a lifetime and if possible quite a bit more. With our tips, we hope you will find it easier to navigate the crowds in Yosemite or at the very least find a way to tolerate them.
Have you visited Yosemite National Park? What was your experience like? What was the most picturesque view in your opinion? Do you have any other tips for avoiding the crowds in Yosemite?