View of Half Dome at Yosemite in spring

12 Incredible Things To Do In Yosemite In Spring

Are you planning a trip to Yosemite National Park and looking for all the best things to do in Yosemite in spring? As the weather temperatures start warming up in the mountains, there are so many incredible adventures to enjoy in Yosemite. And in this guide, I cover a few of my favorite ones!

As a California local, I have been to Yosemite countless times but spring season has a special place in my heart. The first time that I visited Yosemite was in May and it was hard to believe a place like this exists just a few hour’s drive from Los Angeles.

With towering granite cliffs, soaring waterfalls, and lush meadows, spring is an excellent time for hiking and visiting Yosemite Park. If you’re not sure what to do on your visit, here are a few of my favorite activities to narrow down your choices!

Don’t have the time to plan the visit yourself? Be sure to check out this Full-Day Small-Group Yosemite Tour that will take you to all of the top park attractions (and includes hotel pickup).

Important Visitor Tip: Reservations are required to enter Yosemite National Park on certain days starting in April. Check Yosemite entrance reservation requirements here before heading out to the park.

12 Best Things To Do In Yosemite National Park In Spring:

1. Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake is one of the top hikes to do in Yosemite in the spring.

Situated within Yosemite Valley, Mirror Lake is a seasonal pond that is known for picture-perfect reflections of the surrounding landscapes.

This lake is typically full of water after fresh snowmelt in the spring season and dries out completely by the end of the summer. It is best to visit Mirror Lake in the spring and early summer months when the lake is at its fullest. I’ve hiked this trail in every season and spring is by far my favorite time!

To visit Mirror Lake, you can go on a short 2-mile long hike that starts from Happy Isles Loop Road. The trail is fairly easy and you have the option to take a wide paved road or a rocky trail in the forest that passes giant boulders and lush trees.

You can also head on a longer 5-mile-long Mirror Lake Loop, but the views are the best at the beginning of the trail. Overall, this is one of the top places to enjoy views of Tenaya Creek, Half Dome rock formation, and other iconic Yosemite landmarks.

Ready to book a hotel for your spring trip to Yosemite? You’ll find all the top-rated Yosemite accommodation options here on!

2. River Rafting

River Rafting in Yosemite National Park in spring.

If you’re looking for something exciting to do in Yosemite, spring is one of the best times to go river rafting in this region. As snowmelt feeds the Merced River, the water flow level rises creating the ideal conditions for rafting and kayaking.

You can enjoy river rafting within Yosemite Valley where the river is more mellow or tackle faster rapids outside the park boundaries. This is such a fun activity that you can do while enjoying the stunning scenery along the Merced Riverbank.

A few of the most popular companies offering river rafting are:

  • Zephyr Whitewater Rafting. You can choose from half-day morning or afternoon tours and full-day adventures. The excursions take place on the Merced River just outside Yosemite National Park.
  • Sierra Mac River Trips. Sierra Mac has led guided Yosemite rafting trips for over 50 years! You can choose from half-day trips to multi-day adventures.
  • OARS California Rafting. They offer thrilling whitewater adventures on the Merced River in spring with Class III-IV rapids.
  • Curry Village Raft Rentals. If you’re looking for something a bit more chill, you can rent rafts in Curry Village yourself and float down the river within Yosemite Valley for about 3 miles. Once you reach Sentinel Beach, a shuttle will pick you up and bring you back to Curry Village starting point. This is also the cheapest option at only $30.50 per person.

3. Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls in May in Yosemite.

Yosemite Falls is one of the most iconic landmarks to visit in Yosemite National Park. Spring is an excellent time to see this waterfall when it’s flowing full of snowmelt from the mountains!

If you are visiting Yosemite only for a day, I recommend hiking the short 0.3-mile long trail to Lower Yosemite Fall Vista Point. Here you can stand at the base of the waterfall and enjoy the scenery as it flows down the cliff with sheer force.

If you have extra time, Upper Yosemite Falls Trail is an excellent day hike with unmatched views of Yosemite Falls and the valley all around. You can tackle the entire trail and hike to the top of Yosemite Falls where it plunges over the cliff and stop at different viewpoints along the way.

This is a challenging 6.6-mile-long trail with 3200 feet of elevation gain. Be sure to bring plenty of water, food, good hiking boots, and trekking poles to help you tackle the steep climb. I’ve done this hike as part of a backpacking trip before and while it was very difficult, the panoramic views along the way are well worth it!

Read Next: 20 Best Waterfalls In Central California

4. Mist Trail

Vernal Falls waterfall flowing down a cliff surrounded by trees
Mist Trail is one of the most popular Yosemite hikes in spring.

Mist Trail is one of the best spring hikes in Yosemite National Park. This trail passes multiple waterfalls including the stunning Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall.

The increased water flow in spring creates a powerful mist in the air earning this trail its fitting name. Hiking the Mist Trail in spring also allows you to enjoy the beauty of the waterfalls and surrounding landscapes without the large peak-season crowds.

The entire Vernal and Nevada Falls via Mist Trail is 6.4 miles long with 2200 feet of elevation gain so be prepared for a longer day hike. While some sections of the Mist Trail can be strenuous, the cooler spring temperatures will make the hike more enjoyable compared to the hot summer months.

For a shorter and easier option, I recommend hiking to Vernal Falls Footbridge. This section of the Mist Trail is only 1.6 miles long and goes to a viewpoint of a bridge that overlooks Vernal Falls. I like to do the shorter Vernal Falls Footbridge route when visiting Yosemite with my mom since it’s fairly short and not too steep.

5. Biking Yosemite Valley Loop Trail

Wondering what to do in Yosemite in spring? Biking the Yosemite Valley Loop Trail is a fun activity for the entire family!

As the weather temperatures start warming up in the mountains, cycling becomes a popular activity in Yosemite Valley. You can rent a bike or bring your own to explore the valley floor and enjoy breathtaking views of towering granite cliffs and rushing waterfalls.

There are 12 miles of biking trails that you can ride along the Yosemite Valley Loop Trail. This trail is fairly flat and follows next to the Northside and Southside drive that loops around the entire valley floor.

I have hiked the Yosemite Valley Loop Trail on foot before and the views along the way are just breathtaking! I recommend packing lunch and stopping at Sentinel Beach Picnic Area or Cathedral Beach Picnic Area for a relaxing picnic on the river.

Standard bikes cost $30 for half a day and $40 for a full-day rental. There are several locations in Yosemite where you can rent bikes:

6. Wildlife Viewing

Wild deer at Yosemite National Park.

As the snow melts in the mountains and the weather starts warming up in spring, wild animals become more active too. Yosemite National Park is one of the best places for viewing wildlife in California, especially black bears, deer, and marmots that look like large ground squirrels.

Cook’s Meadow is one of my favorite locations for wildlife viewing, especially during sunset when you can often spot deer munching on grass in the meadows. For the best chances to see the deer, I recommend hiking the mile-long Cook’s Meadow Loop (but be sure to keep a safe distance from any wild animals that you see for safety).

Other great places where you can often spot wild animals are El Capitan Meadow, Cathedral Beach Picnic Area, and Wawona Meadow in the southern part of the park.

7. Wapama Falls

Wapama Falls Trail in Yosemite National Park.

If you’re looking for something a bit different to do at Yosemite National Park in spring, I recommend hiking the Wapama Falls Trail in the Hetch Hetchy part of the park. This section of Yosemite doesn’t get as crowded so it’s a great place for hiking on busy days, like the weekends.

The hike starts at the Wapama And Rancheria Fall Trailhead and is 4.7 miles long out and back with around 1100 feet of elevation gain. This quiet part of the park is a wonderful place to go exploring in the spring months when you can enjoy views of multiple cascading waterfalls along the way.

8. Cook’s Meadow

Cook’s Meadow at Yosemite in May.

Located at the center of Yosemite Valley, Cook’s Meadow has it all! The 2-mile-long Sentinel Meadow Cook’s Meadow Loop Trail passes some of the most memorable Yosemite landmarks including Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Valley Chapel, and Sentinel Bridge viewpoint.

This is an easy trail with almost no elevation gain so it’s a great hike for families and little kids. Along the way, you can enjoy views of green meadows, wooden boardwalks, and soaring waterfalls from the distance.

After an especially rainy season, parts of the meadow often overflood creating picturesque reflections in the water. I recommend stopping by Yosemite Falls Vantage Point during sunset to capture photos of Yosemite Falls in the distance reflected in the rainwater.

9. Mariposa Grove

Mariposa Grove at Yosemite National Park is home to some of the largest and oldest trees in the world.

Mariposa Grove is one of my favorite Yosemite hikes that stays open year-round. This is an excellent place to explore while visiting Yosemite in spring to take in the sights of nature, lush forest, and enormous sequoia trees.

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is located in the southern part of the park off Highway 41. This part of Yosemite has a variety of trails from quick 0.3-mile long loops to longer 7-mile long day hikes.

Mariposa Grove is also located very close to top-rated hotels like the Sierra Sky Ranch, Ascend Hotel Collection, and Hounds Tooth Inn. I often come to visit Mariposa Grove when I don’t feel like making the drive into Yosemite Valley, especially for quick day trips.

Starting in April the park offers shuttles that will take you from the parking lot at Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza to the trail starting point. If you come before that, you will need to hike an additional 2 miles along Mariposa Grove Road (each way).

Read Next: 16 Amazing Places To See Big Trees In California

10. Bridalveil Fall

Bridalveil Fall at Yosemite National Park in May.

With a height of 620 feet, Bridalveil Fall is another excellent Yosemite waterfall to see in the spring months. This waterfall has a misty veil-like appearance to it earning it’s well-deserving name.

You can stop to see the waterfall as you enter Yosemite National Park along Wawona Road. The waterfall can be viewed from the side of the road or you can go on a short hike to see it up close.

If you do, you might get soaked in the waterfall mist, especially in the spring months when it’s at its peak flow. It’s a good idea to throw on a rain jacket to protect your phone, camera gear (and yourself) from getting soaked.

11. Hite Cove Trail

Hite Cove Trail is a wonderful location to see wildflowers in Yosemite.

If you are someone who loves spring flowers, consider hiking the Hites Cove Trail! Here you can go for a trek amongst meadows full of spring blooms including poppies, lupine, and dogwoods. Located west of Yosemite Valley, Hite Cove Trail is an excellent place to explore in the spring months.

The Hites Cove Trail is 7 miles long with 1000 feet of elevation gain. Most of the wildflowers are located within the first few miles so you can also hike a shorter portion of the trail if you’re not up for such a long distance.

The Hite Cove Trail starts at Yosemite Redbud Lodge, about 40 minutes west of Yosemite Valley. It follows next to the South Fork Merced River along a hillside.

This hike is technically located within the Sierra National Forest outside the National Park gates. Because it doesn’t fall within park restrictions, it is one of the few trails near Yosemite that allows leashed dogs.

12. Yosemite Valley View

Yosemite Valley View is one of the best viewpoints at Yosemite National Park.

Spring in Yosemite is a magical time! And there is no better place to capture the essence of this season than the Yosemite Valley Viewpoint along Northside Drive.

I always make a point to stop by this viewpoint every time I visit Yosemite National Park. This area offers a clear view of the meandering Merced River and some of Yosemite’s top landmarks including El Capitan rock formation, Bridalveil Fall, Cathedral Rocks, and the surrounding meadows.

There is a small parking lot where you can stop to park right next to the lookout spot. This is a quick stop and an excellent place to snap a few photos for memories!

Yosemite National Park in spring.

If you love hiking, nature, and waterfalls, Yosemite National Park is the place to go during the spring months! It’s a great time when you can explore all of the top Yosemite landmarks before the big summer crowds descend into the mountains.

Looking for more Yosemite travel inspiration? Here are a few other popular posts you may like:

This post is written by Laura Sausina. Hi, I’m a California local and the founder of the California Wanderland travel blog. I currently live in Ventura County and help 30,000 readers a month discover things to do in Central California! Read more about me here.

Share This On Pinterest!

Some of the links used in this blog may be affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, may I earn a small commission when you book through these links for which I am very thankful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *