The Best Yosemite Seasons

I’m amazed by how much Yosemite changes throughout the year. In fact, I’ve witnessed dramatic transformation on a weekly (and even daily) basis! Still, in my opinion some Yosemite seasons are definitely better than others. Let’s get to know them…you can click through each photo to see more.

The Winter Months

Snowy Evergreen Road With Tire Tracks in December - Yosemite Seasons
A fresh blanket of snow near Evergreen Road

Although December, January, and February can be bone chilling cold in the park, seeing the valley blanketed in snow is really quite magical. The best time to visit is during (or just after) a winter storm. Certainly, you’ll want to be prepared with tire chains anytime during Yosemite’s winter – they’re often required by law.

Spring – The Best Of Yosemite Seasons

Half Dome and lush green meadow in early May - Photo by Nathan Allen
Half Dome and Vibrant Green Spring Meadow

I wanted to save the best for last, but I figured it’s good to go in seasonal order. So the cat’s out of the bag – spring is by far my favorite of the 4 Yosemite seasons. As the park warms in March, April, and for sure in May, it really comes to life.

The meadows are vibrant green, the waterfalls are at peak flow, and the weather is not too hot…not too cold – just right. As spring progresses, more and more tourists start showing up. This leads up to…

The Summer Crowds

Yosemite is significantly more crowded during the busy summer season. It’s a good thing Tioga Pass and Glacier Point Roads are open by this time, because Yosemite Valley becomes a parking lot…traffic can be horrible. However, it’s great to cool off and play in the easy going portions of the Merced River.

Merced River landscape - Long Exposure
This stretch of the Merced River is beautiful, but too dangerous to play in.

The summer months of June, July, and August turn the meadows brown, and slow many of the park’s waterfalls to a trickle. While the iconic granite valley is still a sight to behold, this is generally when I head up to the high country along Tioga or Glacier Point Roads instead.

Blooming wildflowers and decaying log at Summit Meadow - Summer on Glacier Point Road
Lush green Summit Meadow, with Wildflowers in Summer

At the higher elevations it still feels like spring…with green meadows and blooming wildflowers. It’s also a great place to get some respite from the heat (and hordes of summer tourists).

Autumn in Yosemite

Golden fall colors on Merced River in October my favorite of the Yosemite Seasons
Fall Colors of Yellow and Orange – Trees along Merced River

The fall months of September, October, and November bring an occasional chill to the air. As a matter of fact, by October this chill drops down to freezing, and sends the valley’s deciduous trees into shock. This is when Yosemite’s stunning fall colors arrive on the scene (be sure to check out my Yosemite Fall Colors Album.)

Despite California not being particularly good for leaf peeping, you can still find beautiful pockets of color – even in the park itself.

Yosemite Seasons – in Summary

Basically, if you have the luxury of taking a trip in the spring or fall (mid to late October, specifically), don’t hesitate! Winter comes in a close third, though you should be prepared for possible storms and road closures. Summer is great in the high country on Tioga Pass (up at Tenaya Lake or Olmsted Point).

Looking for lodging? Check out my Yosemite Hotels page.

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About My Photos

The images on this website are available for licensing and/or sale as framed prints. If you’d like to purchase them for a blog, news article, or gift, feel free to contact me with the specifics. This way you’re supporting photographers such as me directly (as opposed to buying from a faceless stock photo corporation).

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– Nathan Allen

About Me

Photographer Nathan Allen

I’m Nathan Allen, photographer / creator of (Yosemite Photos) and international travel site I Dreamed Of This. In truth, I lived in San Francisco, New York, & Singapore…but nothing compares to life in the mountains. I share my experiences HERE.