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Yosemite in Fall

A Guide to Visiting Yosemite in Fall

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Yosemite in Fall
Courtesy of John Poimiroo
Fall is one of the best times to visit Yosemite. As soon as school starts, the crowds abate, but weather remains moderate and somewhat lower temperature make hiking and rock-climbing more comfortable. Bicyclers will not only find it cooler, but they'll find the roads less busy, too.

Yosemite weather can be variable any time of year, and early snowstorms can sneak up on you. Check annual Yosemite weather averages and for road closures, snow reports, river water levels and more, check the National Park Service website

Hotels rates start to drop this time of year at some properties, usually at the end of October.

Yosemite in Fall: Water

While Vernal, Nevada, and Bridalveil waterfalls run all year, they've slowed to a trickle by autumn. Other waterfalls are likely to be dry.

There's a lot going on in the streams, though. September through December is peak season for trout fishing, especially for brown trout who thrive in the lower Merced River. After the crowds leave, the fish become less wary. Easy places for beginning fishermen are Tenaya Lake, which is easily accessible from the highway, or Hetch-Hetchy Reservoir. Find out more about visiting Hetch Hetchy. If water levels permit, stream fishermen can try the Merced headwaters near the Arch Rock entrance on Highway 140.

Yosemite in Fall: Foliage

Yosemite isn't the most colorful place in fall because most of the trees are evergreen. However, the deciduous trees, especially dogwood maple trees put on their best show in mid-October. If you're looking for really spectacular foliage in the Sierras, you'll be better off to head east of the Sierras around June Lake an Mammoth instead.

Yosemite in Fall: What's Open

The closing date for Tioga Pass depends on the weather, but is usually between mid-October and mid-November. Check previous dates here. Glacier Point closes when the first snow falls.

Many tours continue into fall, including the open-air tram tours and moonlight tours on full-moon nights.

Yosemite Theater offers live evening performances mid-May through October.

Yosemite in Fall: Special Programs

The annual Vintner's Holidays begin in early November and continue through early December. These popular programs feature prominent wineries and industry experts in two- and three-day sessions of seminars, panel discussions and wine tasting moderated by wine authorities. A five-course, Gala Vintners' Dinner in the Ahwahnee Dining Room concludes each session. Advance reservations are a must. Read all about what happens and when.

Astronomers call Mother Nature's special fall program the Leonid Meteor showers, and they usually occur in mid-November, when about 10 to 20 meteors fall per hour. If the shower coincides with a dark moon, Yosemite's clear skies will enhance the show. Find out exactly when they'll happen this year.

Photographing Yosemite in Fall

The National Park Service offers morning Camera Walks. These free, two-hour tours with a professional photographer can help you learn how to make better photographs of Yosemite in Fall. Check their schedule.

Some of the best spots to photograph the fall foliage in Yosemite include Tioga Road, along the Merced River and Fern Spring. In Superintendent's Meadow, you can frame a colorful Black Oak with Half Dome in the background, or look for the bright-red Sugar Maple near Yosemite Chapel.

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