2021 Fall Guide to Yosemite

2021 Fall Guide to Yosemite

If you’re ready for a fall travel experience that’s just a road trip away, Yosemite National Park should be at the top of your list. You will enjoy fewer crowds, mild temperatures perfect for hiking, fall color and affordable lodging options.

Learn more about what to see and do in the park this autumn.

Glacier Point View of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

Things to Do | Fall Color | Where to Eat | Where to Stay

Things to Do

Bicycling – Biking in Yosemite Valley is easy and efficient. The valley floor is flat and paved trails are abundant and are a great way to enjoy the fall foliage. Bike rentals are available at Yosemite Valley Lodge and Curry Village. Choices include tag-along bikes and bikes with trailers for the little ones. ADA options are also available.

Bicycle in Yosemite Valley

Hiking – Yosemite National Park is famous for its hiking trails. From easy to challenging, there’s a perfect hike for just about anyone in Yosemite. Easy choices include Cook’s Meadow Loop or the Mirror Lake Loop. Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall trails, aka Mist Trail, are iconic and are more strenuous. For those looking for awesome valley views from the valley floor to Glacier Point, Four Mile Trail is a strenuous, but rewarding climb.

Photography – The awe-inspiring vistas of Yosemite National Park will make you feel like Ansel Adams, even if you’re just using your smartphone. Notable photo points include Tunnel View, Glacier Point, Half Dome, Sentinel Bridge and Valley View. Be sure to share your masterpieces on social media using the hashtag #TravelYosemite and you might be selected to have your photo featured on the @TravelYosemite Instagram or @YosemitePark Facebook accounts!

Wildlife Viewing – Yosemite is well known for its wildlife viewing opportunities. There are about 300-500 black bears inside Yosemite, so be sure to always follow park regulations and never store food in your car. Mule deer are commonly seen grazing in Yosemite Valley.

Family of Deer in Yosemite Valley

Geology – Yosemite is a glaciated landscape, and the scenery that resulted from the interaction of the glaciers and the underlying rocks was the basis for its preservation as a national park. Iconic landmarks such as Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite Falls, Vernal and Nevada Falls, Bridalveil Fall, Half Dome, the Clark Range, and the Cathedral Range are known throughout the world by the photographs of countless photographers, both amateur and professional. Drive to Glacier Point to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the valley at 7,214 feet, which is 3,200 feet above Curry Village.

Shopping – If you are interested in purchasing some unique Native and handcrafted items, be sure to check out The Ahwahnee Gift Shop. For snacks, picnic supplies, groceries and souvenirs, the Village Store and the Yosemite Valley Lodge Gift Shop are also available. 

Stargazing – Yosemite is miles from city lights and the dark night skies make it a great place to see the stars and spot the planets. Bring a star chart, binoculars and warm clothing for the best viewing experience.

Fall Color

Photographers, hikers, artists and anyone with a passion for the outdoors will delight in Yosemite’s fall colors as the maple, dogwood, aspen and oak trees adorn themselves with leaves yielding seasonal hues. Daytime temperatures are mild and perfect for hiking. Less visitors in the park compared to the summer months provide a feeling of solitude. Fall color typically starts late September into early October in Yosemite Valley.

Merced River and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

Where to Eat

Breakfast, lunch and dinner options are available throughout Yosemite National Park. For updated hours please click here.


Location Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Degnan's Kitchen Yosemite Village X X X
Village Grill Yosemite Village   X X
Base Camp Eatery Yosemite Valley Lodge X X X
Mountain Room Lounge Yosemite Valley Lodge     X
Meadow Grill Curry Village X    
The Ahwahnee Dining Room The Ahwahnee X   X
The Ahwahnee Bar The Ahwahnee      X
Wawona Dining Room Wawona Hotel X X X
The Deck Curry Village   X X
Coffee Corner Curry Village X    

Where to Stay

In-park lodging choices include the Ahwahnee, known for its elegance and interior design, or consider the family-friendly Yosemite Valley Lodge. For the budget-traveler and the outdoorsy crew, consider Curry Village. The historic and charming Wawona Hotel near the south entrance of the park is a true gem as well. You really can't go wrong with waking up in Yosemite this fall!