This website uses cookies

We use cookies to ensure you have an easy, quick and reliable experience whilst using the Virgin Holidays website. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more details, see our cookie policy.

The supreme highlight of any trip to California

Beyond the great cities of LA and San Francisco, there's a wonderful world to be discovered, with a staggering variety of landscapes.

Essential information for Yosemite

Local time

Language

USA flag
American English

Currency

US Dollar $
Official currency of the United States

Flight information

11h
San Francisco (SFO)
Direct flight

Flight schedule

  • Fly daily from London Heathrow to San Francisco
are our main partner airline

Do I need a VISA?

Yes. You'll need to obtain approval no less than 72 hours prior to travel to the US via the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) scheme.

Find out more about Travel Visas here »

Getting around

A hire car is the best way to get around and many of the excursions are spread out. Inside the park, the best way to get around is on foot or by bike. Please Note: There is a charge (payable locally) for entrance into this national park.

   Yosemite holidays: go wild in the great outdoors

America’s got a lot to be proud of. Its magnificent cities, its warm and friendly people, and its amazing burgers. It’s also got some of the most incredible scenery in the world, and right at the top of that list (fighting for first place with the likes of the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore) is Yosemite National Park. Getaways to this incredible natural wonder aren’t just for ‘outdoorsy’ types – with a great choice of hotels, attractions, and things to do, Yosemite National Park holidays really do appeal to everyone.

Let’s get one thing cleared up before we go for a jaunt around this amazing spot – yes, you’ve heard it right, the entire park does sit slap-bang in the middle of a ma-hoossive volcano caldera. But fortunately, there’s no chance of it going pop any time soon. Instead, check out some of the active hot-spots for some amazing photos. Holidays to Yosemite put you back in touch with the great outdoors, so let’s have a whistle-stop tour of the best bits.

Yosemite National Park is vast. And we do mean vast! The best way to see all the good bits is to break it down into sections:

  • Yosemite Valley – right at the heart of the park, you’ll find spectacular waterfalls, cliffs, and some eye-popping rock formations. The legendary photographer Ansel Adams spent a lifetime photographing the park, so you’ll recognise some of the locations from his famous pictures. Look out for the mighty Half Dome, or if you’re a climber, strap on your crampons and tackle the sheer face of El Capitan. Yosemite Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the world, or head out to Tunnel View for breathtaking panoramas of the valley from end to end.
  • Hetch Hetchy Valley – this isn’t quite as famous as its big brother Yosemite Valley, but it’s perhaps even prettier (and a lot less crowded in the summer). It’s well worth lacing up your walking boots and going for a hike, especially in the spring.
  • Wawona – You’re in Pioneer country here, with the wonderfully preserved Wawona hotel and an interactive history centre. Just up the road from the town you’ll find the Mariposa Grove, a plantation of giant sequoias (or giant redwood trees). Who knew trees got that big?
  • Glacier Point – Unsurprisingly, there’s a glacier here, so strap your skis on and go exploring. Badger Pass is the popular route with cross-country adventurers.

You won’t find any beach views here, but who needs that when you’ve got towering mountains, thundering waterfalls, and pristine wilderness as your neighbour? Wake up in the morning, wander out onto the balcony and watch American Bald Eagles soaring through the sky, or watch a local bear wander past. With our top picks of Yosemite hotels, you’ll find gorgeous rooms, and that famous American customer service that guarantees you’ll ‘have a nice day’, every day.

  • Yosemite Valley Lodge – just minutes away from Yosemite Falls, this is 5-star rustic perfection. You’re genuinely staying in a log cabin, albeit a big one (there’s 245 rooms to choose from). Enjoy a meal in the Mountain Room restaurant, or hire a bicycle and hit the trails, pilgrim.
  • Yosemite Cedar Lodge – perfect for family getaways, this friendly spot puts you right next to a lake with a sandy beach that’s ideal for a spot of wild swimming.
  • Tenaya Lodge – fancy a night-time trek to a secret waterfall? That’s just one of the treats on offer at this charming complex set in 75 acres of glorious wilderness.

The big winner in Yosemite is the scenery – there’s so much of it and it’s all amazing. The only question is, what’s the best way to see it?

  • Horseback riding – if you don’t fancy too much legwork, why not let a four-legged friend take care of the hard work for you? Saddle up and ride through the park, where you can hit the trails used by those first brave pioneers all those years ago.
  • Skiing – Yosemite holidays are just as popular during the winter months – all you have to do is strap on a pair of skis instead of some hiking boots. Badger Pass is the top spot, with over 90 miles of cross-country trails and 10 downhill runs that are perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers.
  • Shopping – Yes, there are shops in the park, as well as a few galleries and art centres too. Check out the Ansel Adams Gallery and take home a couple of prints of his famous shots of Boulder Mountain, or the Ahwahnee Gift Shop for some of the best handmade jewellery and other high-end souvenirs.
  • Golf – if you can’t resist the urge to swing a nine-iron, Wawona Golf Course should scratch that itch for you. This championship 18-hole course has probably the most dramatic mountain backdrop of any golf course in the world.
  • By car – You’re in the USA, so your best bet for getting around is a hire car. We advise you go for a 4x4 rather than a saloon, so you can explore a little further during your Yosemite holidays. The roads are clearly marked, easy to navigate, and well maintained.
  • By shuttle – the park operates a shuttle service with free buses that run throughout the whole park. It’s a great way to explore on a budget, and you can get off just about anywhere along the routes and then hop back on again when you’re done exploring.
  • By foot – let’s face it, if you’re not into walking, you’re probably in the wrong place. Lace up your boots, grab a water bottle and a map, and get hiking!

American food is famous for big, BIG portions, washed down by ‘free refills’ of coffee that’ll have you wired for the entire day. However, don’t just expect pancakes for breakfast and a non-stop diet of burgers and fries – there’s so much more to American cuisine.

The restaurants you’ll encounter on your holidays to Yosemite will include traditional American diners, but you can also find some that specialise in fusion cuisine too.

  • Ahwahnee Dining Room – you might need to book ahead, as this upscale restaurant is hugely popular (especially their Sunday lunchtime buffet).
  • Degnan’s Café – great grab-and-go food for the trail – try their freshly-made sandwiches.
  • Wawona Lawn BBQ – during the summer, try an authentic American BBQ, complete with marinated chicken, corn-on-the-cob and other simple but delicious dishes, all cooked out in the open.

Yosemite holiday packages are available all year round, and will be very different depending on what time of the year you travel. If you’re into winter sports then November to March is the best time to visit. Fancy some serious hiking? Hit the park in summer, when the trails are dry, clear of snow, and smothered in wild flowers.

  • Winter – November – March – temperatures can hit the minuses, depending on how high up the mountains you are. At Tuolumne Meadows, which is 8,600 feet above sea level, you’re looking at around -4°C to a maximum of around 12°C throughout the winter, while down at the Park’s headquarters (which is around 4,000 feet above sea level), it averages out at around 4°C.
  • Summer – April – October – summer temperatures can rocket up to around 32°C, although the average is around the mid-20s°C. If you’re here during the summer, don’t forget your Factor 50 suncream, especially up in the mountains.

Yosemite National Park holidays are a once-in-a-lifetime trip for most of us. But this place is so, so beautiful, we’re guessing you’ll be back again and again. Find out more by having a look at our great choice of Yosemite hotels, and start packing for a real adventure in the wild!

Customers who like Yosemite also like...