Tucked away in mountain range of the Sierra Nevada in California, Yosemite National Park is a natural marvel. A vacation rental near Yosemite National Park puts you on the doorstep of one of the country’s most amazing outdoor spaces. From the iconic Half Dome and Yosemite Falls to backcountry meadows and trails, the hiking and climbing opportunities are nearly endless. When you’re not wandering on your own through the hills and valleys, check out these 15 activities so you can fully experience Yosemite.
1. Take a Tour
Explore the vast landscapes of Yosemite from the comfortable seat of a bus with Yosemite Hospitality, which conducts tours to Tuolumne Meadows, Glacier Point, and around Yosemite Valley. For a more customized experience, Yosemite Conservancy guides visitors on birding quests, backcountry hikes, and more.
2. Enjoy Snow Sports
If you book your vacation rental during the winter, head up to the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area to ski or snowboard on the oldest downhill skiing area in California. Rent gear from Yosemite Hospitality, including snowshoes, tubes, and sleds, to take advantage of the sledding hills and wilderness trails. Join a ranger-led snowshoe walk to learn about the park while enjoying the beauty of winter in the mountains.
3. Go Horseback Riding
Trek on the back of a horse or mule to cover a lot of ground without the strain of hiking. Big Trees Stable offers a two-hour ride that visits historical attractions in the area, with horses suited to riders of all skill levels age 7 and above. The stable conducts three tours daily when the weather’s good. If you’re lucky enough to camp at High Sierra Camp, Yosemite High Sierra Camps Pack & Saddle Trips conducts four- and six-day horseback journeys complete with a cook to make meals on the trail.
4. Bike Yosemite Valley
Bring your own bikes to your vacation rental or rent a few for the day at Yosemite Valley Lodge or Half Dome Village. Yosemite Valley has over 12 miles of paved bike paths, and the rental companies provide suggested routes so you can see all the best attractions on your ride, whether you have an hour or all day.
5. Raft the Merced River
The Merced River meanders through the park, offering a unique view of the forests and mountains from the bow of a raft. Rent a four-person raft from Yosemite Valley Lodge, the Yosemite Village Tour and Activities Kiosk, or the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Rentals include paddles and life vests, and no rafting experience is necessary. After your three-hour float down the river, a shuttle bus takes you and your raft back to your car. You can also bring your own tubes or raft and pay a small fee to ride the shuttle.
6. Go Ziplining
Add a thrill to your vacation with a visit to Yosemite Ziplines and Adventure Ranch. The ranch offers a two-hour zipline tour that includes six lines, as well as other fun obstacles, such as a giant net and a rickety bridge. Safety gear is provided. Anyone over 60 pounds, regardless of age, can join in on the adventure.
7. Ice Skating
Visit the Half Dome Village Recreation Center from mid-November to March for a relaxing outdoor ice skating experience. With views of Half Dome and Glacier Point, the rink is an incredibly breathtaking place to skate. Rent skates on site and enjoy some instant warmth for your feet when you’re done by stowing your shoes in the warming hut. A large fire pit is the perfect place to take a break and enjoy the scenery.
8. Hit the Links
Play a round with the pristine backdrop of nature all around you at Big Trees Golf Course, Pine Mountain Lake Golf Course, Twain Harte Golf Course, or one of several other courses a short drive from your Yosemite vacation rental. Big Trees, the only course in the park, features nine holes with two tee positions each, so you can play a round of 18. Carts and clubs are available for rent at the pro shop, where you can also pick up a mid-round snack.
9. Catch a Performance or Film at the Yosemite Valley Theater
After a day in nature, settle into a comfortable seat and watch a live show at the Yosemite Valley Theater. Performances include actors portraying John Muir and other historical figures important to the park’s history. The theater also presents films centered around the park, as well as talks by rangers, search and rescue personnel, and other park employees.
10. Learn to Climb
Yosemite is a rock-climbing destination for climbers worldwide. See what the sport is all about when you take a class at Yosemite Mountaineering School. The classes are up to seven hours long and are tailored to climbers of all experience levels. Children as young as 10 can learn the ropes in regular classes as long as they sign up with a supervising adult, while children under 10 can join you for a private lesson.
11. View or Make Art
Marvel at the photographic genius of Ansel Adams at the Ansel Adams Gallery, which features many of the photographer’s well-known images of the mountains in Yosemite. The Yosemite Museum Gallery also displays rotating art exhibits. Embrace your own creative side by taking an art class at the Yosemite Art Center. If you don’t have your own art supplies, you can pick them up at the Village Store next to the center.
12. Fish for Dinner
Bring your rod and reel to enjoy a relaxing day in a peaceful mountain stream, then head back to your vacation rental to cook up your catch. You can pick up bait, other fishing supplies, and licenses at Mountain Shop at Half Dome Village or Pioneer Gift & Grocery in Wawona. A few extra regulations exist for fishing in some areas of the park, so be sure look them over before heading out to catch a trout, riffle sculpin, or Sacramento pikeminnow.
13. Go for a Swim
You can take a dip in most rivers and lakes in the park, but if you want a more controlled experience, head to Half Dome Village or Yosemite Valley Lodge. Both locations have outdoor pools that are open to all visitors to the park between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
14. Rejuvenate Your Body and Mind
Give your muscles a break from hiking and adventuring with a visit to one of the spas in Yosemite, such as Ascent Spa Tenaya Lodge or Yosemite Health Spa. Both businesses offer a variety of treatments, including massages, saunas, and facials. You can also rejuvenate your body while experiencing nature at Balanced Rock Foundation, which offers retreats and backpacking trips centered around holistic health and wellness.
15. Take in the Night Sky
Head to the Glacier Point Amphitheater for stargazing and a party hosted by the National Park Service and a local astronomy club. The programs take place on some days between June and September, so be sure to check the schedule ahead of time.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Yosemite vacation rentals on Tripping.com.