• Rainbow over Half Dome

    Yosemite

    National Park California

Field Trip Planning and Logistics

Whether you plan to arrange a Parks as Classrooms ranger program or want to create a self-guiding experience, you will find many of the following tips helpful in experience Yosemite as the ultimate outdoor classroom.

Before Your Class Visits Yosemite


Entrance Fee Waiver

Your group may qualify for an entrance fee waiver (check for specific application instructions and contact information).

Camping and Lodging

Yosemite has a wide variety of lodging and camping options, inside as well as outside the park. Please note that both camping and lodging it can be very difficult to get lodging or camping reservations, so be sure to make a reservation as early as possible, particularly in the spring, summer, early fall, and holidays. It is up to the school or youth organization to coordinate camping and lodging.

Driving Times and Road Conditions

When calculating driving time, remember that all roads into Yosemite are curving mountain roads, with relatively low speed limits and which may slow bus travel.

Seasons and Weather


Get a sense of what to expect during your visit as far as road conditions and open areas as well as average temperatures during the month of your visit. Weather can change swiftly in the mountains, particularly in the spring, fall, and winter. Layers of clothing and comfortable walking shoes can be helpful. Check out the Yosemite Guide to discover current happenings and activities in the park (you can also find Yosemite Guide issues from previous years to get a general sense of available activities during your visit).

Areas to Visit

See the self-guiding visits page for more detailed information about different parts of the park.

Food

In Yosemite Valley, Degnan's Deli is less than a five-minute walk from the main visitor center. Yosemite Lodge also has a cafeteria-style food court. If bringing your own lunch, there is a public area (with benches only) in the Yosemite Lodge amphitheater area. A few large bench areas also exist in front of the Indian Cultural Museum, as well as in front of the visitor center area. These are public areas and cannot be reserved. Please remember to keep close track of all food and trash, and please do not feed wildlife, for your safety and theirs. Picnic areas are available throughout the park.

Pre-Visit Resources

The park has a number of short, engaging Yosemite Nature Notes videos about different topics like glaciers, granite, giant sequoias and many other topics. More information is also available about nature and science and history and culture for student research topics. Finally, invite a ranger into your classroom through distance learning. This experience makes for a great pre-visit or post-visit experience.


Day of Your Field Trip

Bus Parking


Yosemite Valley: all buses must park in the special bus parking area at Yosemite Lodge. There is a bus drop-off area in front of Yosemite Lodge. The bus parking area is about a five-minute walk from the drop-off point. Generally, groups should plan on taking what they need from the bus when unloading.

Mariposa Grove: there is a length limit of 40 feet for buses. The Grove parking area often fills by mid-morning. Classes may need to be dropped off at the Wawona Store, where the bus can park. Students will then use the free shuttle to the Mariposa Grove. Please note the free shuttle generally only runs from May through the beginning of October. (If you are participating in a Parks as Classrooms ranger program, the education office may provide special drop-off instructions depending on your program.)

Restroom Facilities


When in doubt, ask someone in uniform for the closest restroom facilities. Here are a few for your reference.

Yosemite Lodge: there is a walkway to the right of the front desk. Restrooms are at the end of the corridor on the left. If these restrooms are closed, continue past these restrooms out the door to the amphitheater. Across the amphitheater you will see signs for the Mountain Room. Head into this inside area, and you will see signs to the right for restrooms. There are also limited restrooms located in the Yosemite Lodge Food Court.

Lower Yosemite Fall: This large restroom facility is about a five-minute walk from the Lower Yosemite Fall shuttle stop (#6).


Valley Visitor Center and Indian Cultural Museum: restrooms are located between the two buildings. This is near shuttle stops #5 and #9. If these restrooms are closed, walk five minutes past the Visitor Center and Ansel Adams Gallery (toward the Village Store) to Degnan's Deli. Restrooms are inside the deli, near the stairs. (Restrooms are also available on both sides of the Village Store.)

Mariposa Grove: vault toilets are available in the Grove parking area.


Wawona area and Pioneer Yosemite History Center: vault toilets are located just behind the Wawona Store parking area (across from the Grey Barn).

Did You Know?

Great gray owl (photo by Cameron Rognan)

In 90 years of serving Yosemite National Park, the Conservancy has seen many accomplishments. From restoring the habitat of the great gray owl to funding the first museum in the Valley, Yosemite Conservancy has played a vital role in the preservation and protection of Yosemite. More...