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Yosemite National Park

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Yosemite National Park is it: The iconic birthplace of American rock climbing and the most famous climbing area in the world.

The park, located in central California, is home to both Yosemite Valley (THE Valley), Tuolumne Meadows, and several other less-visited climbing venues such as Wawona and Hetch Hetchy. Climbers from all over the world have been visiting the Valley for decades (often staying in the little-changed walk-in campground of Camp 4) to test themselves against the great big wall climbs on El Capitan and Half Dome. In addition to scores of historic aid routes, Yosemite Valley also has everything from long free climbs to world-class bouldering. Don't expect a wilderness experience - the park is often overrun by tourists and climbers alike during the busy seasons.

In the summer, when the heat and humidity become stifling, Tuolumne offers a sub-alpine playground of beautiful domes known for run out slab and face climbs on famous Tuolumne knobs.

There are several campgrounds in the Park, the most famous of which is Camp 4. Don't expect privacy or quiet, but do expect tons of climbers and being located right in the center of the action. Camp 4 is a walk-in campground and lines will form each morning before the sun rises for openings. Most of the other sites (such as the Pines and the Tuolumne campground) are reservation campgrounds which fill up months in advance. Stays are limited from one month down to one week depending on the season.

Hipcamp has a great directory of the campgrounds, and for some of them you can even check availability and book them online.

Yosemite Climbing Info (updated by Yosemite Climbing Rangers)

Getting There


From points west (San Francisco Bay area): Highway 120 and 140 lead into the park and Yosemite Valley. 120 continues east to Tuolumne Meadows and then drops down to the East Side of the Sierra via Tioga Pass.

From the south (Fresno): Highway 41 leads into the park past Wawona and into the Valley.

From the east (Bishop, Mammoth, Reno): During the summer months highway 120 can be followed west up over Tioga Pass and into Tuolumne Meadows and then down to the Valley.

Tioga Pass is frequently closed from mid-October to late-May.

Mass Transit - Yosemite roads are crowded!

Consider YARTS, the only public transit to Yosemite National Park. Its buses run seasonally from Merced, Mammoth Lakes, Sonora, and Fresno to Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows The fare is included in your park entrance fee.

To reach YARTS connecting cities, you can ride an Amtrak train (

Amtrak connections can be made from the San Francisco Bay Area airports using BART (local train, to Richmond Station (or several others that connect to Amtrak trains).



Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

half dome from clouds rest
[Hide Photo] half dome from clouds rest
Layton Kor topping out on the Salathe Wall, Yosemite Valley<br>
Photo by Galen Rowell
[Hide Photo] Layton Kor topping out on the Salathe Wall, Yosemite Valley Photo by Galen Rowell
Yosemite in May, 1992<br>
Photo by Deaun Schovajsa
[Hide Photo] Yosemite in May, 1992 Photo by Deaun Schovajsa
Classic Yosemite Valley view.
[Hide Photo] Classic Yosemite Valley view.
Greetings from Yosemite
[Hide Photo] Greetings from Yosemite
Yosemite Valley
[Hide Photo] Yosemite Valley
in the valley
[Hide Photo] in the valley
The Nose from the road
[Hide Photo] The Nose from the road
Climbing in the 80s.<br>
Left to right: Yabo, Peter Mayfield, Werner Braun and Dave Yerian.
[Hide Photo] Climbing in the 80s. Left to right: Yabo, Peter Mayfield, Werner Braun and Dave Yerian.
A squirrel with a view.  We were laughing about the tourists from other countries taking pics of rodents, and then there I was...  September 2009.
[Hide Photo] A squirrel with a view. We were laughing about the tourists from other countries taking pics of rodents, and then there I was... September 2009.
1973 .. Some weird bloke kept coming to the Brit Campsite .. I think he was after our corn flakes ?  Thats my VW in the background .. Driven from NH with H. Barber
[Hide Photo] 1973 .. Some weird bloke kept coming to the Brit Campsite .. I think he was after our corn flakes ? Thats my VW in the background .. Driven from NH with H. Barber
"Chongo"  Big Wall climber and theoretical astrophysicist.
[Hide Photo] "Chongo" Big Wall climber and theoretical astrophysicist.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

John Ross
Wasatch Front, UT
[Hide Comment] Here is some really cool photography of Yosemite that I came across:

xRez Extreme Resolution
Yosemite - Half Dome and El Capitan… Nov 27, 2007
[Hide Comment] Thanks John that is really cool Nov 27, 2007
Ladd Raine
Plymouth, NH
[Hide Comment] Check this out. Oct 31, 2008
[Hide Comment] getting there without a car:
from San Francisco airport:
bart (local train, to Richmond Station
change there to amtrak
amtrak ( train to Merced
yarts bus ( from Merced to the valley Dec 30, 2008
Mark Vogel
Lander, WY
[Hide Comment] That is just way too cool. Jan 22, 2010
Tyler Williams
Flagstaff, AZ
[Hide Comment] When we had a visit to the Yosemite in winter it was really an enchanting tour for us. When we had been on a tour to California we had given a visit to the Yosemite national Park, which is situated California's Sierra Nevada mountain range and is one of the first wilderness parks in United States. It is best known for its waterfalls. Within the 1170 sq miles exist the deep valleys , the vast wilderness, the enchanting meadows and the captivating wildlife. Mainly the Yosemite Falls and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir have visitors crowded around it. Nov 26, 2010
[Hide Comment] Can anyone recommend the best guide book for Yosemite free climbs, hopefully including Tuolumne? Jul 12, 2015
Bryan G
June Lake, CA
[Hide Comment] Tuolumne has two guidebooks available and they are the same price. The Falcon Guide by Don Reid and Chris Falkenstein is much more comprehensive with over 1000 routes. The Supertopo by Greg Barnes and Chris McNamara is a bit newer, full color, and features a handful of recently established routes which aren't included in the Falcon Guide, but it lacks many of the less popular formations and routes. Both books are good quality, it just comes down to whether or not you're looking to climb the classics or get on some more obscure stuff.

The guidebook situation for the Valley isn't that great (bigwalls aside). The Don Reid book has been out of print for several years and a used copy is going for around $50 on Amazon these days. The only in-print book is the Supertopo which has quite a limited selection of routes, most of which tend to be very crowded.

The only guidebook I'm aware of which includes both the Valley and Tuolumne is the Northern California Road Trip by Tom Slater and Chris Summit. However, it's treatment of the Yosemite area is extremely brief as the book is large in scope and covers the entire northern half (actually more like 2/3rds) of the state. Jul 13, 2015
Chad Lawver
Yosemite Village, CA
[Hide Comment] I created a mobile guide book app for Yosemite, similar to MP, but with more accurate descriptions, photos, and GPS... you can download it for iPhone here...…

or Android here...…

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the app!

Thanks! Sep 23, 2015
James Huang
Ford Econoline
[Hide Comment] Here are a couple great rest day activities if you need to take a day or couple days off from climbing:

1) More of an active rest day, but the hike to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls is beautiful and well worth it. The trailhead starts at Camp 4 and it takes about 3 hours (7.2 miles) roundtrip if you power hike up and jog down. The elevation gain is 2,700 feet.

2) Another rest day idea, though this takes about 4 days total, is to backpack from Tuolumne back down to the valley. This is a great backpacking trip because you’re starting high and ending low. Check out… for more details! Jan 24, 2019