4 Reasons You Should Visit Yosemite Next Fall
This November we had the pleasure of taking a weekend trip to Yosemite National Park. As one of our favorite places to backpack, we’ve visited a number of times, but this was our first time visiting in the fall and we were totally blown away. Here are my top reasons why you too should plan a visit to Yosemite in the fall.
Way Less Crowded
This is hands down the top reason to visit Yosemite in the fall. According to statistics gathered by the National Park Service, only 13% of the park’s 5 million + annual visitors visit in the months of October and November. With only 4% visiting in November, we felt like we had the park to ourselves compared to when we’ve visited in the summer and had to fight for every single parking spot. We arrived in the park around 7:30 AM and I can tell you that there’s nothing quite like standing in a meadow in the center of Yosemite Valley with Half Dome before you in all its glory and the early morning sun streaming through the fog… without a single other person in sight. Pure magic.
Although the weather in Yosemite can change moment to moment, the fall months are known for having mild weather that can make activities like hiking and cycling more enjoyable than when temps hit 90 F in the summer. Average temperatures in October are 41 F - 72 F and 32 F - 57 F in November. Although the first snow of the year usually happens mid-October to mid-November, fall is, in general, very dry. During our visit the temperature very closely reflected the averages listed above for November. Pretty chilly with heavy frost in the morning giving away to beautiful sunny afternoons that were easily T-shirt weather when hiking.
Although the majority of trees in Yosemite are evergreens, the color-changing deciduous trees, especially those in Yosemite Valley, are incredibly picturesque and well worth the visit to see. Although we didn’t get a chance to see it ourselves, I’ve been told that the dogwood and maple trees near the chapel are especially beautiful. Visit in October to get the most of the fall foliage. As you can see, quite a few leaves had already fallen by November, but the overall effect was very beautiful.
As visitor numbers taper off in the fall, the price of lodging within the park begins to drop as well. While campgrounds remain the same price, you’ll actually have a chance of getting a campsite in the valley without a reservation. You can check out Yosemite campground opening and closing dates here. If you’re looking to get a backcountry permit, you’ll also have a much better chance of getting one for the trailhead of your choice. Having backpacked in Yosemite during the summer and spent the night sleeping outside a ranger station to obtain a coveted backcountry permit for a popular trailhead, I can tell you that easier access to permits is a real plus.
In summary, Yosemite has amazing things to offer during every season, but if you hate dealing with crowds and aren’t a fan of snow, fall just may be the perfect season for you. Although I don’t usually like cold weather, not having to fight for parking spots in Yosemite Valley was enough to win me over for many falls to come. I can’t wait to visit next October when the foliage is at its peak and share more photos and observations with you. What’s your favorite season in Yosemite and why? Comment below or send us a message!