Pick the Right Time of Year
Spring is peak season with waterfalls at their prime and crowds a little less intense than the summer months. Fall would be my next suggestion for the crowds suggestions! The weather in the Spring can be iffy however. Our trip in May one year was PERFECT – sunny, 70s, and clear! This year, that same weekend SNOWED! Plan for late May or June for a better bet on weather.
Stay Somewhere Family Friendly
We love, love, love Evergreen Lodge. It is outside Yosemite National Park (45 mins) but still within Stanislaus National Forest. They have cabins big enough for families, tents for those who prefer camping, multiple play areas, a rec room with toys and game, a lodge/restaurant, coffee shop, pool, hot tub, outdoor BBQs, s’mores every night, live music weekly, a lively bar — all tucked into the amazing forest filled with Sequoias and bears!
It is beautiful, well kept, authentic, peaceful and so, so, so family friendly.
To find other hotels in and area the park, try booking.com
Bring a Jogger
I know people love the Bob. The Bob is a GREAT jogger with awesome wheels, great reviews, a brand name. But the price tag makes me cringe. If I actually jogged, hiked or hit the beach with my kids on a normal basis, I’d totally cough up that amount for any jogger I really needed. But, alas, I don’t run or hike enough to justify it.
I found the joovy to be awesome. I really have nothing but great, great things to say about it. Including the price being half that of the Bob!
Since we had two young kids, our trip to Yosemite was along the valley “floor” and routes that were totally do-able with a jogger and/or if we had decided to bike. If you plan to actually hike hike, you’ll need to wear your super young kiddos!
Wear a Baby
We brought a jogger and carrier and the kids switched back and forth, including both cramming into our single Joovy at one point. When they both decided to walk and play, we hooked the carrier onto the jogger for easy transporting.
Rent or Bring bikes
If you plan to just explore the valley area (which is beautiful in itself!)- including getting ice cream at Half Dome village – rent or bring bikes! A bike trailer is an awesome idea. For more about renting bikes, visit this Yosemite Travel site.
Get Your Gear in Order
The traffic and parking into the park can get brutal. It took us over an hour+ to find parking (and a frustrating loop around the park on a one-way! Ugh) by 9:45 a.m. If you are an early bird family, you might as well get going as soon as possible! The park is open all the time anyway!
Reserve Parking Ahead of Time
If and when available, reserve parking ahead of time!
Take the Bus
There is a shuttle route around the base of the park. When you are given a map at the entrance to the park – it includes a numbered shuttle route – just park at/near the closest shuttle spot you come to and don’t be afraid to shuttle around! Parking can be so brutal depending on the time of year!
The car entrance is also where you pay to enter using credit card FYI.
Bring Lots of Snacks and Water
You’ll need it! There is some food and water available at Half Dome Village and the Visitors Center but otherwise you’ll be on your own for food and water during any hikes!
It can be cool in the shade and super hot in the sun! Layer up for skin protection and varying temps. Also, there is a lot of water to hang near include a calm river and crazy, wild waterfalls. If you get at all wet, you might have a layer to swap! You shouldn’t plan on swimming, of course.
Prep of Car Sickness
The roads to Yosemite from the Bay Area are extremely windy the closer you get. If anyone in your car is prone to car sickness, prepare ahead of time!
Plan on No Service
We had super limited service into the Yosemite Area and during our stay at Evergreen (thanks to Wifi we got through the hard times… ha!). Plan on having little to no service. Bring walkie talkies if a must.
Game it Up
Plan on car games and an outdoor journal/scavenger hunt game for kids old enough.