Answers from Our Experts (2)
The best times to visit Tahoe and Yosemite are either in spring or winter, depending on what your favorite outdoor pursuits are. If you love hiking, water sports, and taking in amazing views, spring is definitely the time for you. Conversely, if you’re a fan of roaring fires, snowcapped peaks, and skiing, sledding, skating, or snowshoeing, you’ll have the best time during the spectacular California mountain winters.
Be warned, though, that no matter which season you choose, you won’t be alone on the ski and hiking trails. The area is legendary for its beauty, which means that there are always plenty of visitors. So while you can expect to enjoy yourself, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever feel transported back to the forest primeval, so to speak.
There are several “best” times to visit — it depends on if you would like to enjoy Yosemite National Park with everything it has to offer during the busy summer season, or if you would rather see the area in a more subtle and quiet light, which would be during spring and fall.
Spring is simply wonderful. The abundance of wildflowers as well as the dramatic waterfalls (during and after the snow melts) will be unforgettable. Summer offers everything — hiking, biking, swimming, rafting, horseback riding and much more. Do not underestimate the tendency to high temperatures during the day though, especially if you are not used to heat. Also, don't forget that many people from around the world are coming to see Yosemite National Park during the vacation months (July and August), so it can get very crowded. However, if you take your time and hike away from the crowds, you will be able to enjoy Yosemite's splendor even then.
The special light of autumn turns the whole area golden and the foliage presents itself in breathtaking hues. It is also not as busy anymore, and it will be quicker to drive to all the different points of interest. Please be advised, though, that as soon as the first snow arrives, Tioga Road and Glacier Point will be closed. The winter season definitely has its perks as well — you could go on a snowshoe walk to Mariposa Grove, enjoy some skiing at Badger Pass, ice skating in Curry Village or Tenaya Lodge, or take a refreshing horse sleigh ride through the winter forest. Please keep in mind that the rangers in the park require car tire chains when driving into the park, even if you have a four-wheel drive, as it is the decision of the on-duty ranger. The better prepared you are, the higher the likelihood of admission.