National Parks Tips

Best time to visit Yosemite to avoid crowds

hiker standing alone in yosemite Yosemite National Park receives on average over four million visitors per year. In 2019, Yosemite National Park was the fifth most visited national park bringing in 4.5 million visitors. The best time to visit Yosemite is in the Spring during March and April. During this time busy season has not yet started and the average number of visitors for those months from 2017 to 2019 is only around 231,532. During these months you will get a mixture of snowfall at higher elevations, much less crowded trails, more parking spots, more lodging available to you, and less traffic.

How crowded is Yosemite?

Yosemite National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the world. In 2019 alone, Yosemite had 4.5 million park visitors. Each year the total number of visitors has increased dramatically. The first time the park had over one million visitors was in 1954 and since then the number of park visitors has only increased. Starting in the early 2000’s the park averaged around 3.2 million visitors to 3.7 million visitors per year. In 2016 the park had a record breaking number of visits topping off at 5 million visitors. The average number of visitors to the park between 2017 to 2019 is 4.2 million visitors. Being one of the most visited parks, the shuttles system can become crowded, the parking lots can quickly fill up, and the park’s campsites and lodging become quickly booked.

I recommend planning your lodging and campsites months in advance as they fill up immediately when they are open for the new year. Otherwise you will be stuck with constantly checking the lodging website on a daily basis for cancellations.

How busy are the summer months in Yosemite?

cars parked in a crowded forest
Summer time is known as a time for vacation and adventure, which translates into hundreds of thousands of visitors to Yosemite National Park. During the months of June, July, and August, the park sees its typical peak of visitors during its annual busy season. Compared to its least busy months in January or February, the park sees a 600% increase in number of visitors during its busiest month. In 2019, July had a near record breaking number of visitors in one month in the entire history of the park with 717,462 visitors to the park. The highest number of visitors in one month was July 2016 when over 780,000 people visited the park. Things begin to ramp up in June, with an average of 535,339 visitors to the park in the month of June between 2017-2018. July is the park’s busiest month on average hosting on average 618,348 visitors. Things are still incredibly busy in August with an average of 586,971 visitors to the park.

Although it may seem like a great idea to visit Yosemite in the summer, think twice as this is the park’s busiest time and the hottest time. Temperatures for June average about 82 degrees and 90 degrees for July and August. The trails are packed with people, the parking lots are full, the waterfalls and rivers have people scattered throughout, all of the lodging and campsites are completely booked.

How busy are the winter months in Yosemite?

hiker standing in a field below half dome
The winter months in Yosemite see a dramatic drop off in the number of visitors. It is night a day between the number of park visitors in the summer compared to the winter. With temperatures dropping and snow fall likely, many choose not to visit this beautiful winter wonderland.The number of visitors between December through February between 2017-2019 are as follows:

  • December: 195,881 visitors
  • January: 122,068 visitors
  • February: 124,802 visitors
  • Summer Months (Jun-Aug): 580,219 visitors

As you can see there is nearly a 5 fold decrease in number of visitors in the winter months compared to the summer months. Winter is a wonderful time to visit Yosemite as there will be less people on the trails, empty parking lots, more lodging available, and beautiful white snow over the majestic granite peaks.

Can I drive through Yosemite without a reservation?

In order to enter Yosemite National Park, you will have to pay for the park entrance fee. Even if you are planning to just drive through and not actually visit the park, you will be required ti pay the entrance fee for your car, RV, or motorcycle.


hikers on rocks near yosemite falls
Yosemite National Park features awe-inspiring views on-top of stunning peaks, alluring towering waterfalls, serene rivers, marvelous wildlife, and sweeping views of the entire Yosemite valley. These amazing natural wonders attract millions of park visitors every year.The best time to visit Yosemite is in the months of March and April as it gets insanely busy during the summer months. The next best time to visit Yosemite is during the Winter months as this is the least busy time for the park, with the only downside being the cold weather.