Park Nature and Environment
Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada. Park Nature and Environment. One of California's most formidable natural landscapes, Yosemite National Park features nearly 1,200 square miles of sheer awe: towering waterfalls, millennia-old Sequoia trees, striking, daunting cliff faces and some of the most unique rock formations in the United States. But despite its enormous size, most of the tourist activity takes place within the 8-square-mile area of Yosemite Valley. Here you'll find the park's most famous landmarks Half Dome and El Capitan as well as excellent hiking trails through the natural monuments. Even inexperienced hikers can enjoy Yosemite: Guided tours and climbing lessons are available from local adventure outfitters. Just don't expect to experience it by yourself. Like so many other American tourist destinations, crowds are the biggest obstacles to an enjoyable Yosemite vacation approximately 4 million people visit each year. But if you go at the right time (and start your day a little earlier than usual), Mother Nature's wonders will reveal themselves to you in a miraculous and serene way. Known for its plunging waterfalls, giant sequoia trees, sheer granite cliffs, and more, you could easily spend weeks exploring Yosemite National Park. The park has a distinct appeal no matter what time of year here, shoulder season simply means less people and a chance to see Yosemite's beauty from a different angle. Spring brings gushing waterfalls, summer allows for tackling all outdoor pursuits, fall boasts colorful trees and fewer crowds, and winter becomes a snowy wonderland for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Getting around the park is made easier by the free Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS), a public transit system that allows you to meander through the park car-free. Four routes connect to Yosemite from the gateway communities of Merced, Fresno, Mammoth Lakes, and Sonora (the latter three operate in summer only). Plan ahead when you visit this storied destination to ensure the trip of a lifetime here’s a guide to get you started.