My wife and I have never been to Yosemite. We will have some time off in a couple of weeks (end of March) and we're considering planning a trip to Yosemite.

The amount of rain and snow in recent weeks is making me have some doubts though. Would you advise us to go to Yosemite at this time, given that we've never been there before and will really have no idea what we're doing?

  • 7
    I would never advise anyone not to go to a National Park.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 1:56
  • Well said. I should mention that the alternative wouldn't be to sit around at home. We will just plan something else if it isn't a good idea. I've never been there. I'm a bit worried about roads being blocked and trails being covered in snow and unusable. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 1:58
  • 1
    Make sure you have warm gear that can keep you dry. Might be a great time to beat the crowds. Be advised that even though it might be raining, getting a tent spot on the weekend is unlikely, though you should check the reservation site. Have a backup plan for where you are staying at night if all reservations are taken.
    – DudeOnRock
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 5:12

1 Answer 1


Check out the website http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildcond.htm

As of March 3, 2016, the website said this about General Conditions under the heading Wilderness Conditions

Be prepared for winter conditions throughout the park. The current snowpack is about 85 - 100% of average for this time of year, depending on location, a significant contrast to the last 4 winters of 50% or below snowpack. With spring around the corner, lower elevations, such as Yosemite Valley and Hetch Hetchy, are mostly snow free. However, there is still significant snow at higher elevations. The snow line is highly variable due to aspect, vegetation and exposure to the sun, but expect significant snow above 6,000 ft. In shaded north facing areas, expect snow at lower elevations. There are multiple feet of snow at elevations of 7,000 ft and above

Based on long experience with Yosemite, a snowpack of 85 to 100 percent of average means that Tioga Pass Road will not be open before May 15, and Glacier Point Road probably not before May 1. Even that is optimistic. The website used to have a list of the dates these two roads opened, but I have not located it in my brief search for you.

You can get to the snow-gate at Crane Flat (which is roughly 6,500 feet) on Tioga Pass Road; there are trails off Tioga Pass Road before the snow-gate which are fun to x-country ski or snow-shoe.

The section on Trails and Wilderness says:

The Mist Trail from its junction with the John Muir Trail above Vernal Fall footbridge to the top of Vernal Fall is open; the John Muir Trail from Clark Point to near the top of Nevada Fall is closed for the winter. It is possible to hike to the top of Vernal and Nevada Falls using still-open sections of trail, however, conditions may be snowy and/or icy.

I've hiked from the Valley to the Rim on the Snow Creek Trail in late April, but late March..... Much depends on your level of ability. There are people who would think nothing of getting to the High Country from the Valley in January.

You can't count on the weather. How long would you be there?

My bottom line is that, in late March, you may be confined to the Valley plus maybe the first 1,500 feet above the Valley plus the open part of Tioga Pass Road. And there may be weather for a day or three. On the other hand, the Valley will be spectacular and uncrowded and the waterfalls should be awesome. There is nothing like Yosemite. Note: Many, maybe most, visitors never go beyond the Valley.

  • 2
    I want to add to 'You can't count on the weather': In a snowy year such as this one, the Sierras will get significant snowfalls through April and May, maybe even later. So, its a great time to go backcountry skiing, and the valley will look great with that snow, but be careful using a 3 season tent in March.
    – Pepi
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 1:37

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