Visiting the iconic mountains of Yosemite National Park is a phenomenal experience, but it’s important to plan your trip with the weather in mind. You may be wondering if Yosemite is open year-round, what the weather will be like, or what will be open while you’re there.
Yosemite is open 365 days per year, 24 hours per day. However, when you’re in the mountains, the weather plays a huge role! Road, trail, and facility closures are common at this elevation, especially during the fall, winter, and spring.
If the roads are open, you can enter and exit the park as you please, even if the entrance stations aren’t open and collecting fees.
My name is Ash, and I’m a former park ranger. I have been to Yosemite many times and can’t wait to help you plan your trip to Yosemite National Park.
I’ve got a ton of information for you about visiting Yosemite year-round, including the hours, closures, and weather you can expect while you vacation in this magnificent national park. Let’s get started!
Is Yosemite National Park Open Year-Round?
Yosemite is open 365 days per year, 24 hours per day. This means that if you want to hike a trail at sunrise, you will be able to get in, and if you want to stargaze at 2 a.m., you’ll be able to get out. Open roads are not gated.
But it doesn’t mean that all of the activities and points of interest will be open for you at all times.
- Several of the park’s visitor centers are closed during the off-season (October-April).
- The entrance stations are not always staffed.
- Some campgrounds and lodges are not open year-round.
- Several roads close to vehicles during the winter. It’s also common for the roads through the park to temporarily close due to snow or ice.
- Trails may be closed due to construction or unsafe conditions.
Closures of this nature are common year-round, so let’s discuss what may be closed even if the park itself is open.
Operating Hours for Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Visitor Center Hours
You’ll find four visitor centers in Yosemite National Park. These visitor centers vary in size and hours and are located throughout the park. If you’re in one of Yosemite’s most popular areas, chances are there are park rangers nearby to answer your questions.
- Yosemite Valley Visitor Center — this is a large visitor center located in the heart of Yosemite Valley. It is typically open year-round.
- Wawona Visitor Center at Hill’s Studio — this is a small center located near the park’s South Entrance. It is typically open from May-October. The nearby Pioneer Yosemite History Center is open year-round but is not always staffed.
- Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center — this visitor center is located at Tuolumne Meadows and is a great jumping off point for those exploring the park’s high country. It is open in conjunction with the Tioga Road opening dates, typically June-September.
- Big Oak Flat Information Station — this is a small information station located near the Big Oak Flat Entrance. It is open from May-October.
Typically, these visitor centers are open with extended hours during the summer months and shorter hours in the spring and fall. Ranger program offerings usually coincide with the dates that the visitor centers and campgrounds are open.
Yosemite Entrance Station Hours
Yosemite has five entrance stations — Tioga Pass, Big Oak Flat, Hetch Hetchy, South, and Arch Rock.
Entrance station hours vary and are not published. These stations will almost always be staffed early in the morning until late at night during the summer, with shorter hours during the spring, fall, and winter.
If an entrance station is staffed, you will be required to pay the park entrance fee before exploring Yosemite’s main trails and viewpoints.
If an entrance station is not staffed, you can drive on through (as long as the roads are open). The Hetch Hetchy Entrance is an exception to this — you cannot enter outside of the posted operating hours.
Common Closures in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Lodging Closures
Yosemite has thirteen in-park campgrounds. To choose which campground will best serve your needs, read all about camping in Yosemite. Upper Pines, Camp 4, Hodgdon Meadow, and Wawona are typically open year-round. The other campgrounds are primarily open during the main summer season (May-September).
Reservations for the in-park campgrounds open up 5 months in advance on the 15th of the month. So if you are planning on starting your trip on July 7, then you’ll want to make your campground reservation on February 15.
You’ll find seven lodges in the park. The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Valley Lodge, and Curry Village are usually open year-round. The other lodging options are open seasonally (May-September).
Reservations for the in-park lodges generally open up one year in advance of your travel dates.
Common Road Closures in Yosemite
Most of the popular activities in Yosemite are only accessible from about mid-May through mid-October. If you’re hoping to see all of the can’t-miss spots, be sure to plan your trip during those months.
Yosemite Valley is open year-round. You can get to Yosemite Valley via the South Entrance, the Arch Rock Entrance, or the Big Oak Flat Entrance. The park roads are narrow, curvy, and have large elevation changes so tire chains are required during the off-season. I suggest entering the park via the Arch Rock Entrance if you’re looking for the safest way into Yosemite Valley when the roads are snowy/icy — it has the least elevation change of the roads that lead to the valley.
The Hetch Hetchy Entrance stays open year-round but is only open during daylight hours. If there are operating hours listed here, you cannot enter this part of the park outside of these hours.
The entire Glacier Point Road is usually open from about the beginning of May through October, depending on the weather. During the winter, the Glacier Point Road stays open to the Badger Pass Ski Area, where you can ski, snowshoe, or go tubing.
The Tioga Road is open from approximately the end of May through September, depending on the weather. If you’re hoping to see Yosemite’s beautiful high country or enter the park via the Tioga Pass Entrance, you’ll want to plan your vacation during this short window of time.
Be aware that the park roads will also often temporarily close after large snowstorms, which can happen as early as September. These temporary closures typically last a day or two at most, weather permitting. Check the current conditions in the park here.
Common Trail Closures in Yosemite
Most trails in the park open and close on the same schedule as the roads, so if the road is open, the trail should be open as well.
Snowy or muddy trails are common in the winter and spring months. The lower elevation trails in Yosemite Valley can be hiked year-round (Bridalveil Fall, Lower Yosemite Fall, Cook’s Meadow, and Mirror Lake). If you want to hike to Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall during the off-season, use this winter route.
If you plan on hiking up into the mountains or in the park’s higher elevations (Tuolumne Meadows, Half Dome, Sentinel Dome, etc.), expect to encounter patches of snow until July.
Temporary trail closures may happen due to construction projects or unsafe conditions, so check the current conditions in Yosemite before you go.
What is the Weather Like in Yosemite?
Even though Yosemite is open year-round, you’ll find some pretty dramatic temperature swings in this park! You can find amazing things to see and do here at any time, but because Yosemite Valley sits at about 4,000 feet above sea level and Tuolumne Meadows is at 8,600 feet above sea level, the weather varies drastically between seasons and sections of the park.
Take a look at the average highs and lows (in degrees Fahrenheit) and snow/rain levels (in inches) at Yosemite National Park:
|Avg High (F)||48||51||57||63||71||81||89||89||83||71||56||46|
|Avg Low (F)||29||30||34||38||45||51||57||57||51||41||33||28|
|Avg Rain/Snow (“)||7||6.5||5.5||3.2||1.9||0.5||0.3||0.2||0.4||1.6||4.1||5.6|
Winter Weather in Yosemite
The mountains of Yosemite will start accumulating snow as early as September, but the valley floor typically sees the most snow from November – April. This is when you’re most likely to hit those common closures listed above. There usually isn’t enough snow accumulation for snow activities until mid-December or so, with most of the snow falling in December, January, and February.
Daytime temperatures will often be well above freezing in Yosemite Valley. Nighttime temperatures will usually be below freezing. Winter temperatures in this park can actually be quite mild, especially compared to other mountainous national parks.
Big snowstorms can happen, and it’s normal to have a storm come through and dump a bunch of new snow in a small amount of time. Tire chains are required to be in your car at all times during the winter months.
Pack your warm winter boots, coats, and gloves. You can snowshoe or cross-country ski some of the park trails, and the Badger Pass Ski Area has some fabulous winter activity options. There’s not usually enough snow in Yosemite Valley for skiing or snowshoeing, but you can find an outdoor ice skating rink at Curry Village!
Spring Weather in Yosemite
Springtime is a time of transition in Yosemite. As the snow melts, the roads and campgrounds begin to open up in preparation for a busy summer season.
Yosemite’s tall and dramatic waterfalls usually hit peak run-off in May. You’ll find rushing water everywhere in the park, whether it’s a river, waterfall, or unnamed stream.
Crowding during the spring is low, mostly because not all the roads are open yet. If you’re hoping to do some hiking or drive to some of the park’s higher elevation viewpoints and trails, I don’t recommend a spring visit to the park. Visiting Yosemite during the spring is a gamble as to what roads will be open.
Summer Weather in Yosemite
Summer is the high season in the park, which means that everything is typically open. It’s extremely crowded and busy at this time, but you’ll get the warmest weather for exploring!
Even summer in Yosemite can be a little unpredictable, though most days you’ll have comfortable temperatures in the 80s and lots of sunshine in Yosemite Valley. Areas along the Tioga Road are usually 10-15 degrees colder than the valley, so keep that in mind if you plan on adventuring in the high country.
Big thunderstorms like to roll in during the afternoon hours, so try to get your longest/highest elevation trails done in the morning if you can.
Summer is wildfire season in Yosemite. You may find air to be smoky from nearby fires, areas may be closed, or fire restrictions may be in place.
Traffic and crowding in Yosemite can be terrible.
Did you know that it’s common to wait an hour or more to enter the park or catch the shuttle?
Are you hoping to see the best sights without getting stuck in traffic, circling parking lots, or being surrounded by people?
Stay ahead of the crowds with this Yosemite Itinerary. You will see all of the can’t-miss spots, plus get lodging and dining guides, driving directions, and insider tips!
Autumn Weather in Yosemite
Autumn in Yosemite is short but lovely. A visit during October or November brings cooler temperatures, bluebird skies, perfect hiking weather, and crisp mountain air. Weather-related closures can happen anytime during these months, especially in November when the roads start to close for the season.
Yosemite isn’t known for its spectacular fall colors (due to a large number of pine trees), but you will find some nice colors starting around mid-October. The park’s famous waterfalls are often dry or just barely a trickle at this time of year.
By mid-October, most lodging, dining, and camping options are closed down for the season, especially outside of Yosemite Valley. The Tioga Road and the Glacier Point Road close to vehicles at this time of year — closing dates vary due to the weather conditions. For this reason, I suggest a visit in October if you’re hoping to experience Yosemite in the fall. November in this park is very unpredictable.
So now you may be asking yourself, when is the best time to visit Yosemite?
Now that you know you can visit Yosemite year-round, click here to see my specific recommendations for the best times to visit Yosemite.
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