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Hiking

When should you hike a trail? Some hikes lead to fascinating forests, some have tremendous views and others are rich in variety. Share your favorite trails with other hikers and nature lovers.

Yosemite National Park! Mesmerizing and spectacular views! Read on for our complete season guide or scroll down for tips about the most breathtaking places: Half Dome, Lower Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point.

The best sweet spot months with mostly pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds are mid-May until early-June and late September until mid-October. July and August are ridiculously busy. However, if you can only visit in summer, we have great tips to avoid crowds (see below). Waterfalls are at their best in late May, and skiing the Badger Pass lasts through the end of March. Backpackers thrive into early October, while those who prefer to drive do best when all roads are likely to be open July through September. Take a look at our seasonal breakdown. We went to Yosemite ourselves many times, also analyzed thousands of reviews to help you determine the advantages of each season:


Please note: These are temperatures for lower elevations. It gets a lot cooler at higher elevations!


SPRING (April - May)

April's showers (and melting snowcaps) bring May's spectacular waterfalls.

Weather: Though it varies, temperatures are getting warmer. Average daytime highs hover around 70, though it is always possible to encounter a late winter snowstorm.

Accessible Areas: Lower elevation and good roads make Yosemite Valley and Wawona accessible all year long. It is difficult to predict the likelihood to enter Tioga and Glacier Point Roads due to residual snow. Crews begin clearing snow April 15, but work can last well into May. Weekends can be especially busy, be sure to arrive early to avoid unnecessary delays.

Highlights: Water is abundant in spring. Well-known rivers and waterfalls reach peak runoff in late May, and this is by far the most popular time to see them. Check out the booming rush of water at Ribbon Falls, which only flows through June. It is one of the tallest waterfalls in all of North America. Don't expect to be wowed by the wildflowers; it's still too early for the blooms, though you might catch a few poppies or redwood along the way.

Crowds: Light in April. It gets busier in May. Especially weekends are crowded in late spring, visit midweek, and get to the main hot spots first thing in the morning. Try to avoid the extremely congested Memorial Day weekend.

 

SUMMER (June, July, August, early September)

Sweet summer weather brings peak level crowds.

Weather: Ample sunshine. Average temps soar to nearly 90, but cool down significantly under the night sky.

Accessible Areas: Most of the park is accessible now, but it is still possible to discover your own private paradise. Venture outside of Yosemite Valley, and away from the crowds. Take in the stunning views in High Sierra where you will be met by little more than a cool mountain breeze.

Highlights: Waterfall flow is typically still at its peak in early June and often remains high by mid-June. Itbegins to slow in July due to warmer weather. Vernal, Nevada, and Bridalveil Falls run all year; however, their flow can be very low by late summer. Yosemite Falls may dry out completely by August. Check Yosemite Falls Webcam to see the current flow. Your draw in summer is the spectacular colors of the wildflowers. In the valley, the blooms burst in June. Follow the winding river in Tuolumne Meadows, and enjoy the sub-alpine flowers like gentium or shooting stars. Explore one of the many trails that begin in these meadows, including the route to the summit of Mount Lyell, the highest in the park.

Crowds: June is already busy, while July and August are extremely jammed. Popular spots will be crowded all season, and expect long lines at entrance points. Take a chance and hike a lesser known trail instead.

 

AUTUMN (early September, October,  November)

Crisp breeze and colorful trees, along with dwindling crowds make fall one of the best times to visit the park.

Weather: Varies. Average daytime temps are in the 50's, but it is not unusual to see drastic ranges. Snow and rain are also possible, especially at higher elevations. Yosemite Valley is your best bet for comfortable daytime weather; though expect it to turn chilly when the sun goes down.

Accessible Areas: Most areas in the park remain open through October, though this is fully dependent on the weather. Services begin to shut down in mid-September, and the park does not allow overnight parking after mid-October. In late fall, your best bet is Wawona and Yosemite Valley, but even there you may require tire chains.

Highlights: As the snow begins to fall, so does the water. Yosemite Falls has been dry all late summer and early autumn but resumes its flow quickly usally by November (after a little snowfall). From Wawona, your best bet is Chilnualna Falls. You will have to hike to it, but the way it twists and turns through the rocks makes it completely worth the effort. Fall colors peak around mid-October, though don't expect to see radiant hues throughout. Most trees are evergreen, but shades of yellows, orange, and even some purples can be found sprinkled among the trees.

Crowds: Warning. Early September (Labor Day Weekend) sees the highest crowds. After Labor Day it's less crowded but still busy. Even if you visit mid-September avoid weekends and try to get up early. Crowds start to thin out by late September. In October everything is much quieter. As long as the roads remain open, you are likely to have the place to yourself in late autumn.

 

WINTER (December, January, February, March)

If solitude is what you seek, winter will be a treat.

Weather: Cold. Snow and wind are a constant presence, though you might find a few sunny days in between storms. Temperatures in Yosemite Valley are more moderate, averages remain in the low 50's, though evening lows can dip below zero.

Accessible Areas: There are few trails visible enough to hike during winter, and once Tioga Road is closed vehicles are prohibited for your safety. Ski areas remain open, as the Badger Pass is plowed often. Both downhill and cross-country activities are popular here, and there are some great runs for snowboarders as well.

Highlights: Water is flowing again, thanks to the snow and rain, and it is possible to get some great winter shots of the falls. If you get to Yosemite Falls early enough, it is possible to see it frozen solid. If possible, consider visiting the Horsetail Fall Firefall. Only occurring in winter when the sun is at just the right angle, this natural beauty looks just like a cascading flow of fire. It is truly unforgettable. The peak time for the Firefall is usually from February 17-19. However, it can vary. The sweeping snowy vistas are magical in the winter, and the lack of crowds make it even better. Yosemite Valley is your best bet to find a route to hike, keep in mind the trails range in difficulty and distance, so plan accordingly.

Crowds: None. You are likely to encounter some crowds at the ski areas, but if your intent is just to visit the park, you may be lucky enough to never see another person.

 

How to Avoid the Crowds

Your best bet to avoid the crowds is to visit in spring, late autumn, or winter. If a summer trip cannot be avoided, follow these tips to get the most out of your visit.


Get up early: 
There is nothing more spectacular than a Yosemite sunrise, and if you can make yourself get up early, you will essentially have the place (almost) to yourself. Take advantage of the morning's first light, and your reward will be some phenomenal photos. Park rangers suggest starting before 9 a.m. Although not packed, very popular places can already get busier between 9 and 10 a.m. in the peak months. The earlier you arrive, the better.

Stay up late: 
If you are not an early riser, you might prefer the big sky at night. Under the light of the moon and millions of stars, you can't help but feel amazed at what nature has to offer. The park hosts free astronomy lessons, but to truly avoid the crowds, try to find a more remote spot instead. These night sky views are unforgettable. Crowds start to dissipate after 5 p.m.

Venture away from the main tourist sites: 
Sure, they are likely the reason you chose Yosemite, but the same is true for everyone else. Consider a visit to the High Sierra, where there are no crowds and expansive views. This makes a great location for a multi-day hike, or a home base for camping.

Step out of your comfort zone: 
Or your vehicle. Most tourists visit the park in their cars which can create traffic jams and on top of that, you only get a glimpse into what Yosemite has to offer. Park your car and take a hike instead. A little mountain fresh air is good for the soul, and the best part is, the views only get better as you go. Trails range in difficulty and distance, so be sure to consider your physical ability and time frame as you plan. Avoid the Mist Trail unless you arrive first thing in the morning, as it is one of the most popular, and does see a lot of crowd action as the day wears on.

Pack a cooler: 
Pull off somewhere special to enjoy a private picnic. You will thank yourself when you see the lines at the restaurants. Not only do you have the freedom to choose when and where you stop, you have full control of your food choices. Park dining options are great in a pinch, but tend to offer mediocre food, for pretty steep prices.


Yosemite Firefall (Winter / See Tips Above)


Firefall by Ken Xu, CC BY, cropped

 

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Weather

Sabah can be traveled throughout the year, but June to September can be hot. Climbing Mount Kota Kinabalu is best during the dry season in March and April with a higher chance for clear views. Anyhow, rain can also occur at this time of the year. October to January is the North-East Monsoon that brings heavy and frequent rain. It is worst in November and December. Dry periods can occur, but the monsoon can spoil the whole trip.

Sunrise on the famous Mount Kinabalu in the Sabah region

Nowadays it's a very popular hike; early booking is essential minimum 6 months in advance! Climbing is limited to 135 people per day since the earthquake in 2015 where people and even children died. 

Top Tip

If you want to explore a less busy part of the mountain; at Panar Laban Rock Face on 3.300 m elevation starts the world highest via ferrata. It was opened in 2007 with different routes and difficulties. More information about climbing activities.

Where to Stay 

If you like to climb Mount Kota Kinabalu you should book an exceptional lodge before. It'll be pretty strenuous. If you want to explore Mount Kinabalu National Park without climbing to the summit choose a lodge which is not too far located. The very best location already inside the Kinabalu Park offers the Sutera Sanctuary Lodges At Kinabalu Park. An alternative but not as comfortable is the Happy Garden Resort close to the Kinabalu Park Entrance.

MY Malaysia

The best months for a sunrise tour to the top of Mount Hehuanshan or Hehuan are during the driest time of the year from December until March. The sunlight has a little variation from summer to winter rising in June shortly after 5 and in January around 6.40.

Consider Three Things If You Like to Watch a Sunrise Above the Clouds

1. Go weekdays
2. Don’t book your room far in advance. 
3. Travel to Taiwan during the driest months to increase the chance.

Sunrise on Mount Hehuanshan in Taiwan

Do you like to know more? Read the following tips to be successful in watching the sunrise for a jaw-dropping moment in your life.

Watching the sunrise on Mount Hehuanshan is very popular in Taiwan. If possible go on weekdays, weekends are super busy and fully booked. Don’t book the room far in advance. Check the weather forecast when traveling through Taiwan  Taiwan Weather

Pick a date when the forecast for the mountain range is good or even excellent. The receptionist told me often people are disappointed due to the bad weather. The whole week before our stay in November it was always foggy and rainy. 

Weather

Taiwan's climate is subtropical with wet and humid summers. Snow is common during winter mostly in January and February, and it gets very busy here. Most precipitation from April to July. There is less rain from August to November and the driest months are December until March, but pretty cold. Anyhow, even in the driest season, you can expect rain. During summer it's refreshing cool on 3000 m elevation. 

Highlights/Information

  • Visitor center opening hours: 8.30 until 4.30 pm but closed each month on the first and third Monday.
  • The whole area is famous for its beautiful Rhododendrons in April and May.
TW Taiwan

Otherworldly! The Wave - Coyote Buttes North. One of the most fascinating hikes on our planet! However, there is one catch: You have to win a permit! How to increase your chances and answers to every other possible questions you might have are covered here. You'll learn things no one else tells you about 'The Wave'! Read our powerful planning guide below (check our infographic!)

Before you start, these are the 5 proven must-know tips for the lottery (how to win a permit) at a glance:

  1. Months: Highest chance for a permit in January / early February
  2. Walk-In Lottery: Enter the lottery for at least 2 consecutive days
  3. Walk-In Lottery: Between November and March. Plus: Enter on a Friday as well
  4. Online-Lottery: Wait until the end of the month before entering the lottery
  5. Online-Lottery: Select 3 dates with the fewest applicants

Read on for more detailed tips and everything you should know before you go.

Permits

There is no more real off-season in terms of lottery applicants. Don't trust older reviews, as winning becomes less likely every year. However, the chances to win a permit are still a little better in the winter months. Especially in January and early February. Find more insider tips on how to win a permit in the text and infographic below.

Touris Crowds and Weather

Since only 20 persons per day are allowed, crowds are not an issue. However, Kanab (Visitor Center) and Page are less crowded if you avoid peak tourist months (late June, July, August). In terms of weather, we recommend spring (March, April, May) or fall (September, October, November): The temperatures are moderate and the cloud cover is reasonable, particularly in April/May. In summer (June/July/August) it gets very hot (100°F, 40°C). You should start very early to beat the heat. In the winter the ground might be snow covered and muddy. This may result in an impassable road sometimes. The cloud cover is higher in winter as well. However, you should keep in mind that the weather doesn't matter that much: Try to win a permit for this unique hike, regardless of the weather.

Photography (Time of Day)

A sixty foot buttes causes massive shadows and the best time to take photos there is often not sunrise/sunset. However, almost any time for a photo is great when you're at this otherworldly place. Extra tip: Look for puddles to capture great reflections.

US United States

Kenya is on equatorial east Africa and yet you will be surprised at the weather. September is mildly winter in Lake Naivasha and the sun feels good during daytime while you will need a light wind jacket for the evening.

Great experience includes Hippos in Lake Naivasha, the canyon at Hell's Gate National Park and Elsamere - the house where Elsa the lioness grew up with Gorge and Joy Adamson from Born-free.

Navaisha town is very small, no one accepts anything other than US Dollars or Kenyan Schillings - not even the banks. So always carry enough cash with you.

It is a quiet town so don't expect too much entertainment. There are a couple of nightclubs though.

Hell's Gate National Park lies near the bottom of Mount Longonot, an active volcano. Nowadays a geothermal power plant is harnessing the steam from the volcano , so there are no chances for eruption either.

The canyon is however dangerous because of sudden rains. If there is any rain, be sure take the emergency path out of the canyon as soon as you can. There are no big predators in the National Park but keep away from buffaloes.

KE Kenya

Alice Lake Provincial Park Squamish is pretty busy during summer and popular for camping. The Four Lakes Trail can be done all year and is beautiful with sunshine and during fall. It’s permitted to swim in these lakes therefore in summer bring your swimming clothes and a towel in your backpack.

Swimming at Alice Lake Provincial Park in September

Avoiding Crowds

Arrive early during summer; the car parks fill up fast due to the many activity options and the beautiful location. There are several car parks in the park. The last one at Alice Lake is the quietest, less busy and located close to the trailhead with a nice and clean picnic area. The best choice is camping at Alice Lake, but reservations have to be done in advance for summer. May, June, and September are still crowded but mostly not fully booked.

Hiking the Four Lakes Trail at Alice Lake Provincial Park

The trail is popular for hiking, biking, and running among tourists and residents. Mid-week fewer people are on the dog-friendly trail. Around 40.000 people hike this trail each year.

Weather / Climate

Squamish has a high amount of rainfall throughout the year with its peak from October/November to February/March. Summer is the driest season of the year, but rain can occur so be prepared while hiking. From May to September the temps are pleasant for hiking, in summer around 20 °C / 68°F but can be hot as well with temps over 30 °C / 86 °F. Nights are cool even in the summer with a maximum of 10 to 13 °C / 50 to 55 °F. Due to the Howe Sound, it's freezing cold during the winter only. 

August
  • Stump Lake is covered with yellow pond-lilies which looks gorgeous.
  • Between mid- and late August swarms of toadlets (frogs) move from their birth lake to their home in the forest. They are very small and it's difficult to see them. Be careful while hiking.
Good to Know for Biker:

The bike trail is closed to cyclist from May to mid-September.

CA Canada