Yosemite National Park, located in the central Sierra Nevada of California, is nearly 1,200 square miles of glorious waterfalls, grand meadows, deep valleys, ancient giant sequoias and so much more. Supporting a diversity of plants and animals, Yosemite is a young naturalist’s wonder, with at least 95 percent of the park a designated wilderness. Open all year round, Yosemite National Park offers visitors of all ages a wonderful opportunity to bask in the beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountains and participate in nature-based activities available throughout the park. It is one of the best places for day hiking and ultralight hiking. Top it off by finding that perfect Yosemite National Park vacation rental for a trip to remember.
Families Will Love These 10 Things To Do In Yosemite National Park
1. Go on a Night Prowl
Discover Yosemite under the night sky as you and your family explore the park on an evening hike. This family adventure is perfect for curious nocturnal discoverers who want to learn more about the creatures that come out at night. Hikes are led in groups of up to 24 participants, and the trek lasts about one to one-and-a-half hours. The walk is relatively easy, flat and one mile or less, making it suitable for kids and grownups alike. Advanced registration is required, and the $10 tickets can be purchased at any Tour and Activity Desk within the park, or by calling 209-372-4386.
2. Become a Junior Ranger
Geared for kids ages 7 to 13, this program is a chance for participants to become an actual “Junior Ranger,” aiding efforts to preserve and maintain park grounds. The Junior Ranger talk begins in front of the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center and lasts about 15 minutes. Then, on the hour-long Junior Ranger Walk, participants help pick up litter to keep the park clean. After the completion of an activity book, participants are awarded the official Junior Ranger Badge. For younger kids, the Little Cubs programs offers age-appropriate activities for children between 3 to 6 years of age.
3. Take a rock climbing class
If you’re looking for a multi-day activity, consider rock climbing with the Mountaineering School in Half Dome Village or in Tuolumne Meadows. Group classes start daily at 8:30 a.m. are generally 7.5 hours long. Children ages 12 and up can join the class without parental supervision, while children 10 to 11 years of age can join the classes with a supervising adult. Children under 10 can participate in a private lesson with an adult. For reservations, call 209-372-8344 or email [email protected].
4. Create art
Be inspired by nature and create a work of art at the Yosemite Art Center, located near the Village Store. The workshops, open to artists of all levels and ages, are held Monday through Saturday from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Sunday, two-hour beginner workshops are held from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Registration is $10 per student per day; advance sign-up is recommended. For more information, email [email protected] or call 209-372-1442.
5. Ice skate in Yosemite Valley
Strap on your skates and glide around the outdoor rink in Yosemite Valley. The skating rink is set up on the valley floor every winter starting December, when the waterfalls freeze. The rink is popular both for its incredible view of Half Dome, and the hot chocolate you can get right nearby at Half Dome Village. The rink has a warming hut for storing shoes, as well as a fire pit outdoors for roasting s’mores and warming up with a hot drink.
6. Discover the starry skies
Gaze at the stars in Yosemite Valley on a walking tour that’s offered in the fall, winter and spring. Participants will learn about the Milky Way galaxy, constellations, the moon, comets and all the folklore that follows. Here’s your chance to lie down beneath the stars and see the park as never before. Tickets cost $10 per participant, and can be purchased at any Tour & Activity Desk or by calling 209-372-4386.
7. Tour the historic Majestic Yosemite Hotel
There’s a hotel with a unique history at Yosemite, and visitors can learn more about the site on The Majestic Yosemite Hotel tour. During the tour, a Yosemite Hospitality naturalist takes guests through the stunning décor, architecture and landscape of the hotel. The structure itself is a unique landmark within the park, but its story makes it a great stop for travelers passing through.
8. Participate in live theater
The lively theatrical performances at Yosemite will enthrall viewers of all ages. Performers tell the storied history of the park, and audience members will get to see Yosemite through the eyes of characters who helped shape the national treasure. Tickets are available at the Yosemite Conservancy Store at the Visitor Center, at the Tour and Activity Desk at Yosemite Valley Lodge and by phone at 209-372-4386.
9. Go on a bus tour
From two-tour tours to all-day excursions, Yosemite Hospitality offers multiple bus tours to various areas within the park. If traveling with fiddly youngsters or older family members who can’t make the hike, bus tours are a great way to get in the sights. The Valley Floor Tour is a two-hour tour of Yosemite Valley that is offered all year. The Glacier Point Tour is a round trip tour to Glacier Point that lasts four hours. Tuolumne Meadows tour is an all-day tour to the meadows and back, available July through early September.
10. Visit the Yosemite Museum
As the first building constructed as a museum in the national park system, the Yosemite Museum has significance for parks nationwide. Often overlooked by guests in a hurry to see the great outdoors, the museum captures a side of the park’s past impossible to observe elsewhere. The Native American culture exhibit, the rustic style architecture and the changing art gallery will capture the hearts and attention of any audience.
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This article was written by Hanna Choi.