Top 8 Experiences for Yosemite in the Fall

Top 8 Experiences for Yosemite in the Fall

Yosemite in Fall

The bright leaves and crisp air of autumn make Yosemite National Park the perfect destination for travelers wanting to experience the beauty of nature. The park is home to many breathtaking views, including Half Dome, El Capitan, and Glacier Point. These three locations are all worth a visit in the fall but there are many other activities that can be enjoyed as well like hiking trails or horseback riding. There is something for everyone at this beautiful location!

In this post, we outline our top 8 experiences for Yosemite in the fall.

Yosemite Falls

The Yosemite Falls Trail can be broken up into sections. The first section just off the Valley Loop Trail is one mile with a 1,000-foot elevation gain. The hike among the oaks, toward Columbia Rock, will take you to views of the beautiful valley floor. Just another half a mile will give you a gorgeous view of Upper Yosemite Fall. This moderate family hike is a great option for the whole family, and it’s just minutes away from the valley floor!

Half Dome

Do you want to see Half Dome from a distance or hike to the top? If you are looking for a relatively easy viewpoint then with just a short hike in the Yosemite Valley you can view Half Dome from Mirror Lake. Or channel your inner Ansel Adams and go to Cook’s Meadow for a gorgeous view of Half Dome in the background.

We could write an entire article just on how to get an opportunity to climb Half Dome. This all-day hike requires a permit which is only available via lottery. Be sure to read the latest updates on the NPS website.

El Capitan

Watch the climbing experts do their thing as you head out of Yosemite Vally. From the base of the valley floor, you will enjoy beautiful views of the majestic El Capitan. Just along the one-way Northside Drive the spectacular El Capitan in the fall is a sight to behold.

Tunnel View

The one must-see stop that everyone knows but we can’t leave it off the list because your view of the valley from this vantage point is all the more gorgeous as the leaves change!

Glacier Point

Fall is a great time to enjoy these majestic views. But be sure to check the NPS Yosemite Glacier Point page for the most up-to-date information on access. This viewpoint is accessible via Wawona Road which is open from May to October or November weather permitting. You may take your personal vehicle or the Glacier Point Tour bus. You can also take the bus one way and hike back to Yosemite Valley.

Bridalveil Fall

Driving into the valley this first stop has a short paved walk, with minimal elevation gain, to the base of the falls that everyone can enjoy.

Learn About Cultural Heritage

Explore living history. Learn about the heritage of the indigenous groups who lived here from park rangers who can share about the culture and provide engaging demonstrations.

Explore the new Chinese Laundry Building in Yosemite Valley that highlights how Chinese labor helped expand public access to the Yosemite area.

Or learn about the impact that Buffalo Soldiers had as some of the first park rangers at Yosemite.


With easy hikes or sturdier adventures for backpackers, you can get out into the crisp air on any one of these trails. Hike the Mist Trail, along the Merced River to Vernal Fall. Or take the Mirror Lake Trail by following the paved access road to the area of the lake with views of Half Dome.

Sentinel Dome hike is another spot with photogenic views that let you see Half Dome as the birds do!

Lower Yosemite Falls trail is accessible to all, including wheelchair access, with a paved trail to the base of the fall.

Yosemite National Park is a beautiful place in the fall with many must-see spots. Whether you want to hike, take pictures or just enjoy the beauty of nature, there are endless things to see and do at this national treasure!

Another spot to see great fall color in California is at Pinnacles National Park. Don’t miss this cooler time of year to explore one of America’s most recent additions to the National Park system.