Yosemite National Park is on our top 5 US National Park list. Established as a National Park in 1864, Yosemite is absolutely stunning, enormous in size and so unique in its landscape. From meadows, waterfalls, glaciers, granite rocks and just about everything in between, Yosemite National Park has so much to offer for every type of traveler!
Needless to say, there are a ton of “must see/do” activities at the park, but if there is one thing that you should really take the time out to notice, it’s the dark skies above the park. It is some of the darkest night skies in the country thanks to its vast area of land and remote location.
So if you only have time for one evening activity, we strongly recommend it be one of the two night sky focused evening tours. We promise you, you will not be disappointed:
- Night Prowl
- Starry Night Skies over Yosemite
- Glacier Point Starry Night Skies over Yosemite (selected dates during June-July only)
Note: the Glacier Point tour is 4 hours long which includes a 2-hour roundtrip bus ride from Yosemite Valley to Glacier point. S
We did the Starry Night Skies Over Yosemite and it was our single most favorite activity at the park. Not only was it visually awe-inspiring (many thanks to the perfectly clear, new moon sky we were blessed with) but it was incredibly educational thanks to our amazing guide!
If you can coordinate your visit with the lunar cycle, visit during a new moon. With the absence of the light from the moon (well technically the sun), the night sky will be a gift of an entirely different kind to your eyes.
Sadly, his name complete escapes us at the moment but we do know a very unique fact about his childhood which he shared with us. If you happen to have a guide who was born in the backwoods of Arkansas and grew up in a house with no electricity or running water, then you will know that we had the same guide! His early childhood was fascinating and played a vital role in his love for astronomy; isn’t it amazing where life will lead you?
Although the tour is described as a walking tour, there is actually very little walking involved. You meet the guide, we walk less than 5 minutes to the open fields and voila! you have arrived. The knowledgable guides lead you into an hour of stargazing extravaganza. From showing you the milky way, the closest, largest and furthest stars (seen with a naked eye), planets if there are any in the sky (Mars was beaming brightly in the sky during our visit), and breaking down the entire sky into compartments and showing all the visible constellations in the sky, will have you longing for more. There were moments when the entire crowd gasped in “ohhhh” and “ahhhh”s out loud; we don’t want to spoil the surprises for you hence not disclosing the reasons behind the sound effects.
Our tour had about 20 people or so but in the summer months the groups can be as large as 80! In all honesty, with the enormous sky above you, it makes little difference to the number of people around you.
Important Tour Information
Duration: 1 hour
Purchase Tickets: Book your tickets online as soon as you know your dates; tickets can sell out!
Ticket Pick-Up: Tour desk at the lobby of Yosemite Valley Lodge (can be picked up anytime on the day of the tour, but must be at least 30 minutes before tour departure)
Meeting Time: 8:00pm, 8:30pm or 9:00pm (depends on time of year)
Meeting Point: Bus stop #6 during the cooler months; valley meadow field during the summer months (easy walking distance from the lodge and the tour desk will tell you how to get there)
Frequency: The tour runs every day year-round but is weather dependent. Be sure to check out the Yosemite Guide for the latest scheduled based on which time of the year you are visiting.
Accessibility: The tour is wheelchair accessible because it is a very short “walk” from the bus stop to the open meadow of the Yosemite Valley where you stand and continuously look up.
It is COLD especially if you go during the autumn/winter months so be sure to bundle up.
Hats, gloves and scarves are a must if you go during the cooler months.
Yosemite weather at night is nothing like what “California weather” is usually known for.
We do not have any pictures of the night sky to show you but saying it was spectacular is an understatement. If you have never gone stargazing, you are in for a treat! This is an excellent activity for the entire family!
We hope you get a chance to check out this tour. We will have more articles on Yosemite up soon. Until then, let us know what your favorite things to do at the park are in the comment section below. We love hearing from you!
Happy and Safe Travels as always!