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Is it true I have to book over a year in advance ?

corona, california
Level Contributor
30 posts
6 reviews
Is it true I have to book over a year in advance ?

I live in so Calif and I have never been to Yosemite

I love to take my family on one adventure vacation a year. I don’t even know where to start planning this vacay but I keep having people tell me I have to go here. I also have been told (which keeps me from pulling the trigger) is if I want to go I have to plan a year in advance to even get In there ? Is that true?

Where is best area to stay in the middle of it all so I can start researching places ? Thanks for your answers :). I’ll start planning now for next year. Is March -May a good time to go ?

12 replies to this topic
Corona del Mar...
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
Level Contributor
60,321 posts
443 reviews
1. Re: Is it true I have to book over a year in advance ?

You need to plan a year ahead for peak times and you have to figure out what you want to see. Somethings are closed if there is still snow around (Glacier Point Rd, etc) and if you wait too long/late things are booked.

Read the Top Questions, figure out what sights you want to see and how long you want to stay; then ask more questions.

El Paso, Texas
Level Contributor
347 posts
228 reviews
2. Re: Is it true I have to book over a year in advance ?

Here is the Yosemite NP website: https://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm

Click on Plan Your Visit, Basic Information, Operating Hours & Seasons. There will be descriptions on what are the highlights each seasons.

Another resource is Yosemite: The Complete Guide by Kaiser James. You can buy it on Amazon for $15.99.

El Paso, Texas
Level Contributor
347 posts
228 reviews
3. Re: Is it true I have to book over a year in advance ?

This is the website you should use if you want to stay inside the park:


May 10 & 11 2019 is already fully booked.

Joshua Tree...
Destination Expert
for Joshua Tree National Park
Level Contributor
1,368 posts
207 reviews
4. Re: Is it true I have to book over a year in advance ?

I think early May or late September is good when the worst of the crowds are gone but everything is still open.


Level Contributor
11,508 posts
1 review
5. Re: Is it true I have to book over a year in advance ?

The booking site on Aramark is technically boookable 364 days in advance.

If you want the best selection of available accommodations in the valley and during peak times, yes, you should be looking that far in advance, They are generally all cancelable without penalty up to 7 days before your arrival date, so that does help some.

I think later April-May is best. March can still get a bit of snow and it's still quite cold at night, although there are fewer people. At least in May the days are getting substantially longer and you have more of an evening to enjoy.

I enjoy October in the park, but the waterfalls and streams are at their lowest and the nights are getting longer and colder

Of course, when Tioga Pass is open (generally late May through early November) you can make a loop from southern California that includes the very scenic eastern Sierras, but that also coincides with the busier times in Yosemite.

Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Santa Monica
Level Contributor
23,142 posts
264 reviews
6. Re: Is it true I have to book over a year in advance ?

As you live in CA, consider visiting outside of summer. I planned an October trip 2 weeks before we went to Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite over 5 days/4 nights. We did have to stay outside the parks in Three Rivers and Oakhurst, but stayed inside the park at Kings Canyon and just outside of Yosemite in a Yosemite West Airbnb. There were tent cabins available; I was not willing to spend a night in onen: no bathroom isn't my thing, but if you don't mind, that's another option as well.

As you are from Southern California, approaching the parks via Sequoia is a good bet; as mentioned, Three Rivers is a convenient town for entry to the park. I have to say, I preferred Sequoia and Kings Canyon better than Yosemite. The former were what I expected from a mountain get-away: serene, quiet, majestic nature. The latter was what I expect in the city.

Edited: 13 May 2018, 03:20
Long Beach...
Level Contributor
7,979 posts
7. Re: Is it true I have to book over a year in advance ?

I can usually find cancellations in the 7-21 days prior. But a condo or vacation rental is a great option too.

A really great loop from SoCal (summer/fall trip)- a couple nights in Mammoth Lakes area, a couple nights in Yosemite Valley area, and a couple nights in Kings Canyon/Sequoia.

Andalucia, Spain
Level Contributor
1,992 posts
45 reviews
8. Re: Is it true I have to book over a year in advance ?

Do note that the waterfalls are seasonal and every time we went in September or October they were dry. We never went in August. June is our favorite month...early June before schools are out. The waterfalls are insane!

Level Contributor
269 posts
60 reviews
9. Re: Is it true I have to book over a year in advance ?

We like to go in June because we like the waterfalls. I would like to try the winter, but the snow chain restrictions make me nervous and the bus from Fresno is no longer running during the winter.

While reservations open up a year in advance, the Yosemite Lodge books almost instantly as it opens, that does not mean that you have to plan a year in advance. We were able to get a reservation at the lodge in March last year (ok, we may have decided to fly from the East coast to Ca just because the waterfalls were going to be AMAZING and we were actually able to book two nights at the lodge). However, it is usually easier to find reservations for the tent cabins.

I would guess that 10 months out is pretty difficult; it is unlikely that those who booked exactly a year in advance yet know that there plans are changing 10 months in advance.

Oregon Coast
Destination Expert
for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
Level Contributor
44,706 posts
1,112 reviews
10. Re: Is it true I have to book over a year in advance ?

If you click on the link below, you will find an *excellent* TripAdvisor Traveler Article. In one comprehensive easy-to-print location, you will have all the information you need to figure out where to stay:


As mentioned above, if you want to avoid the huge crowds, aim for spring or fall. But if you also want to see the famous waterfalls, aim for mid to late April into mid-May, or first week of June. Avoid Memorial Day if possible.

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