Travelog XI: Yosemite National Park
Our recent trip to Yosemite National Park was the most ambitious one yet. We woke up at the dead of night and drove five hours from San Francisco to Glacier Point to catch a sunrise. Any view in Yosemite is breathtaking but sunrise at Glacier Point was glorious.
Yosemite National Park was first protected in 1864 and has 1,200 square miles of deep valleys, giant sequoias, grand meadows, magnificent granite giants, and a vast wilderness. In addition, Yosemite National Park is home to more than 400 species of animals; ranging from mammals to amphibians to reptiles. In order to protect the wildlife, it is important to note that Yosemite National Park has a lot of restrictions on where you can take your dog.
Although don't fret, plenty of the dog-friendly areas in Yosemite will leave your four-legged friend happy and tired while allowing yourself to enjoy many of the National Park's famous landmarks alongside them.
Dogs are allowed in:
- Glacier Point - An overlook where you can view Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Nevada Falls, Vernal Falls, and the High Sierra. It is accessible by car with ample parking. There are a few trails around Glacier Point that offers a nice scenic walk, which is also dog-friendly. From entering Wawona or south of Yosemite Valley, it is roughly 13 miles away which will take about an hour drive.
- Lower Yosemite Fall - While Upper Yosemite Fall isn't accessible to dogs, Lower Yosemite Falls is. You can take a glimpse of the 320-foot drop with your pups on the paved loop trail. This area and short trail offers different vantage points of Yosemite Falls and the Yosemite Creek.
- Mirror Lake Trail - The trailhead begins at the loop of Lower Yosemite Fall. From there, it is 4.5 miles to Mirror Lake (9 miles roundtrip). The trail will take you and your pup through Tenaya Creek. Right at the lake, it offers a vantage point of surrounding cliffs, as well as Half Dome.
- Tunnel View - A popular vista point and there's no hiking required. A fantastic view of Yosemite Valley that'll leave you and your pup wanting to explore more!
- Wawona Swinging Bridge - A perfect place to take a dip in the water when it is a warm day in the valley. This is a popular area during the summer for BBQ and picnicking.
- Bridalveil Fall - The hike to the fall is just short of 1.2 miles. This waterfall is short compared to Yosemite Falls but it is still stunning nonetheless. On a warm day in the valley, this fall is a nice place to cool off from Bridalveil Fall's mist with your pup.
- Cook's Meadow Loop - Another short and easy hike that offers a beautiful view of the valley floor. This 2 mile loop takes you and your pup around the center of Yosemite National Park where it offers a stunning view of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Glacier Point, El Capitan, and Sentinel Rock.
- Wawona Meadow Loop - If the Yosemite Valley floor is too crowded for you and your pup, don't fret! Head on over to Wawona Meadow Loop for a picturesque meadow. This loop is about 3.5 miles. During the spring and early summer, there are an abundant of wildflowers and the view has a lovely tree-lined path. In the winter, the meadow opt as a snowy playground. From this loop, you and your dog can access the Chowchilla Mountain Road for further exploring, as well as Wawona Four Mile and Eleven Mile fire roads, Carlon Road trailhead to Hodgdon Meadow, and Old Big Oak Flat Road to Tuolumne Grove.
To note that all these dog-friendly areas within Yosemite National Park required all dogs to be on leash, there is no off-leash hiking allowed. Yosemite is very strict on this rule. Yes, Cooper does have his leash on in our photos. I tend to hide it when taking photos or I typically photoshopped it out during the editing process.
Dogs are not allowed in:
- Public buildings and on shuttle buses
- Lodging within the National Park, there are dog-friendly hotel/motels before entering Yosemite
- Undeveloped area, this includes the wilderness/backcountry
- Campgrounds and campsites that are walk-in
- Roads that are unplowed and covered in snow
- Majority of the trails in Yosemite National Park
Want to stay longer in Yosemite National Park, especially with your pup? Here is a compiled list of dog-friendly campgrounds that are available within the National Park.
- Wawona Campground - This campground is about 27 miles away from Yosemite National Park and is centrally situated in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
- Hodgdon Meadow Campground - Not too far from the Wawona campground, it is 25 miles away from Yosemite National Park.
- Tuolomne Meadow Campground - Just 5 miles off the Tioga Pass and is just about 30 miles away from Yosemite National Park.
- Upper Pines Campground & Lower Pines Campground- Nicely situated campgrounds that offer an awe inspiring view of Yosemite National Park.
- Crane Flat Campground - Another campground that is not too far from Yosemite National Park, it is only about 17 miles away.
- Dimond O Campground - A scenic campground that is near the bank of the Middle Fork Tuolomne River.
If you are looking for something near Half Dome or Yosemite Falls that's dog-friendly then you're not in luck. Majority of all campgrounds that allow dogs are about 20 miles away from the main landmarks in Yosemite National Park. But that shouldn't stop you and your pup from adventuring around! Another note about these campgrounds is that they aren't walk-in and will need a reservation in advanced.
No matter how many times we've been to Yosemite National Park, there will always something to be wowed at. It is definitely getting more crowded each year as this is one of the most popular and famous National Park. In order to keep our National Park beautiful and clean, please make sure to pick up after your pup and be respectful to the wildlife. Follow the Leave No Trace Seven Principles whenever you are in the great outdoors.