Current Travel Conditions - Yosemite Day Use Reservations Required Some Dates April through October! - Click for More Info.
Hikers at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
Menka Belgal

20 Things To Do If You Can Not Get A Yosemite Reservation

By VTC Author | 03/01/2024 | Outdoor Adventure, Stanislaus National Forest, Trails, Yosemite National Park

Advance reservations will be required to enter and drive through Yosemite National Park for some periods April 13th through October 27th, 2024. This temporary requirement is in effect to help ease congestion in the park. 

If you can't get a peak-hour reservation during for your desired date, don't worry! There are plenty of things to do in the Yosemite region that will fill your days with fun and excitement.

1. Try getting into the park another way. Public transportation on Yosemite Area Regional Transit System (YARTS) is available, and the YARTS ticket includes entrance into the park. Or utilize a guided tour operator, not only do you get into the park, but you’ll get a fun tour too.

2. Visit Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The reservoir inside of Yosemite is accessible without a reservation! Enjoy spectacular scenery while hiking around the reservoir that is the water source for much of San Francisco. Tip: Arrive early--parking is limited, also note that the Hetch Hetchy Road is only open sunrise to sunset.

3. Hike along the Tuolumne River to Carlon Falls. The trailhead is on the Stanislaus National Forest, but the falls, which are a great place to cool off and have a picnic, are located in Yosemite. This hike is moderately strenuous, and parking is $8 per vehicle.

4. Explore Yosemite’s neighboring public lands. The Stanislaus National Forest offers plenty of hiking and biking trails in beautiful scenery.

5. Embark on a whitewater rafting adventure on the Tuolumne River with one of several reputable outfitters. Exciting half-day trips and multi-day excursions paired with great food and company are available.

6. See the area the way the pioneers did—on horseback. Horseback ride through the countryside at the Pine Mountain Lake Equestrian Center.

7. Explore the town of Groveland. Shop, dine, golf, or mosey up to the bar at the longest continuously operating saloon in California, the Iron Door Saloon.

8. Learn about the area at the Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum which holds an extensive collection of cultural and natural history exhibits highlighting the area.

9. Rent a boat, swim, fish or hike at Lake Don Pedro, one of California’s stunning massive reservoirs. It's dog-friendly.

10. Visit Jamestown where several of the town’s buildings that date back to the 1870s and 1880s are occupied by quaint historic inns, restaurants, shops, brewery and wine tasting room. Stop by the Jamestown Museum at Rocca Park, and walk along the Walk of Fame, highlighting Tuolumne County’s show business history. Chicken Ranch Casino offers non-stop gaming action and Bingo.

11. See the historic “movie star locomotive,” the Sierra No. 3®, take a ride on the excursion train ride (on weekends), and go on a tour of one of the few remaining working railroad roundhouses in America at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.

12. Sonora, the County Seat, is a great base camp for a visit to Tuolumne County. It’s an easy access point to all of the fun in the surrounding area with many lodging options. Its historic downtown is home to shops, restaurants, historic buildings and fascinating museums, just to name a few things to do!

13. Step back into California’s Gold Rush history in Columbia State Historic Park where you can stroll along wooden sidewalks, ride an authentic stagecoach (your dog can too!), pan for gold and chat with knowledgeable and friendly townspeople dressed in period attire.

14. Experience the arts in quaint art galleries or enjoy superior live theatre performances at Sierra Repertory Theatre or live music at outdoor summer concerts and festivals.

15. Relax at Indigeny Reserve on the lush 160 acre preserve nestled in the hills of historic Sonora. Friendly staff serve hard ciders and spirits produced on site. The shaded picnic area and trails are surrounded by organic apple orchards.

16. Get off the beaten path in the town of Tuolumne, where Black Oak Casino Resort offers entertainment for the whole family. The Westside Trail is an easy hike with scenic views and spectacular spring wildflower displays. Pay respects at the 9/11 & War on Terrorism Memorial.

17. Boat (boat rentals available), swim, camp, hike, fish, and enjoy the scenery at the popular Pinecrest Lake.

18. Visit the town of Twain Harte, a charming mountain town boasting unique shops, dining options and a classic, vintage miniature golf course.  

19. Take a scenic drive through the High Sierra along Sonora Pass. Magnificent vistas, trails, lakes, rivers, and streams create endless opportunities for every outdoor enthusiast and feature breathtaking scenery and fresh mountain air.

20. Hop on one or all three of Tuolumne County's mobile trails. Try the tastes of local wines and craft beers throughout Tuolumne County where makers enthusiastically share their local beverage creations in unique locations. The Tuolumne County Craft Beverage Trail features discounts at local wineries and breweries. Treat yourself to a delicious burger creations while journeying on the Tuolumne County Craft Burger Trail. Explore Downtown Sonora and snap some selfies at the numerous locations along the Sonora Selfie Trail.

Earn point toward grand prize drawings as you check-in at locations along any of these trails.

Find A Place to Stay

You’ll need a place to stay during your visit. Pick from mountain resorts, historic inns, cozy vacation  cabins (perfect for gathering the family), distinctive B&Bs, and  full-service RV parks. 

If  the weather is a bit adverse during your visit and you would rather stay inside, we’ve got you covered with plenty of things to do indoors. Take a look here. 

Stay Sonora house and yard
Visit Tuolumne County
193 S Washington St
Sonora, CA 95370

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