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.
In Yosemite Valley, Degnan's Deli is less than a five-minute walk from the main visitor center. Yosemite Valley Lodge (formerly 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 Valley 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.
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
All buses must park in the special bus parking area at Yosemite Valley Lodge (formerly Yosemite Lodge). There is a bus drop-off area in front of Yosemite Valley 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.
Reservations are required for all commercial carriers with vehicle capacity of 16 or more arriving to the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza. Commercial parking reservations are only available to commercial operators having a commercial use authorization (CUA) from Yosemite National Park, and private, nonprofit bus groups.
Schools planning to visit the Mariposa Grove by bus should email the Educational Fee Waiver Office for parking information and do not need to make advanced reservations online.
When in doubt, ask someone in uniform for the closest restroom facilities. Here are a few for your reference.
Yosemite Valley Lodge (formerly 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 Valley 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.)
Vault toilets are available in the Grove parking area.
Wawona area and Pioneer Yosemite History Center
Vault toilets are located just behind the Big Trees Lodge Store (formerly Wawona Store) parking area (across from the Grey Barn).