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Summer is the most popular season to visit National Parks due to school being out, people taking vacations, and the temperatures that allow for hiking, swimming, and sitting around the campfire.

But did you know that Yosemite National Park if the fall is one of the best times to visit that park?

When looking for national park vacation ideas, you’ll find fall is one of the most picturesque times of year.

Our friend Derek Edwards shares what to look for when taking photographs when you’re visiting California’s Yosemite National Park in the fall.

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Here’s the list of gear we recommend for a National Park trip in the fall:

→ CHECK OUT our National Park Packing Lists.

1. US National Parks Pass: You can order passes online or get them at any of these Federal Recreation Areas.

→ BUY THE PASS AT REI and they will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation. 

2.  Fall Hiking Shoes: → Check out our FAVORITE hiking shoes/boots!

3. Fall Hiking Socks:  → Check out the BEST SOCKS EVER!

4. Fall Clothing for Hiking (Layers)

Wicking and quick-drying base layers

Fleece jacket (Columbia is the BEST!)

Rain jacket

5. Daypack

6. WATER:  → We carry water bottles or hydration backpacks

7. FOOD:  → Check out our favorite healthy snacks

8. Flashlight:  → Check out the headlamps we like

9. National Park maps

10. Female urination device

11. Toilet paper (carry out in a bag – do not bury)

12. Hand sanitizer

13. First aid kit

14. Bags to pack out trash

15. Camera Gear – DOWNLOAD our Camera Gear Checklist

16. Photography gear for hiking

Fall in Yosemite

California national parks in the summer are popular so they are usually crowded.

To avoid the rush of summer, planning a fall vacation is one way to enjoy the parks with fewer people.

Yosemite is a popular destination for hikers, campers, outdoorsmen, and photographers alike, especially in the summer.

Fall at Yosemite covers the months of October and November. While the park is open during these months, tumultuous weather patterns, fog, clouds, and snow may make it harder to explore. You may also come across some hazy or smoky conditions in the fall.

Many of the trees in Yosemite are evergreen, so it takes some time to find the spots that have deciduous trees turning into a warm rainbow of fall colors.

If you’re headed out to shoot some photos at Yosemite, we’ve compiled a short list that can help you with your techniques, as well as some must-see places to bring your camera.

Check out other US National Parks in the fall you can add to your bucket list!

Photo Credit: Aniket Deole

The Best Places to Take Fall Photos in Yosemite National Park

There’s no shortage of beautiful locations to take photos at Yosemite, but some spots are a little brighter than others during autumn. Here are some of the best photo spots in the park.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake offers a tree line that surrounds the water filled with deciduous trees like big-leaf maples, black oaks, and Pacific dogwoods. With the water receding in the fall, the water is calmer and gives its visitors the chance to see the reflections of the half dome—making for unique photos.

Happy Isles

Happy Isles is a lush section of Yosemite Valley that is popular amongst visitors and specifically, photographers. This marshy area is one of the more diverse parts of the park that makes it a great spot to capture some fall colors, like the brilliant yellow of the dogwood trees that peak late October.

Valley Gates

When you’re in Valley gates, take a glance over the river and see the beautiful shoreline filled with trees and plants that change into bright fall colors during harvest time. El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls can be seen from Valley Gates, and you can capture some beautiful ground-level shots there.

Tunnel View

Tunnel View is one of the most popular viewing spots in Yosemite Valley. While many of the falls in Yosemite dry up in the fall, late autumn rain causes Bridalveil Falls to flow moderately and sets you up for some spectacular shots. The combination of the falls with the brightly colored trees create a stunning scene.

Photo credit: Rakshith Hatwar

Use a Guide to Your Advantage

Yosemite is such a large park with countless locations for photos. To capture some truly magical moments, consider taking a Yosemite tour that guides you through the park to the best photo spots.

You can also contact local photographers in the area who would be happy to show you around and give you helpful tips and tricks to capture the fall scenery.

Thinking about getting a more in-depth look? Consider canoe photography to capture rare photos in places that many don’t have access to.

Photo credit: Jordan Pulmano

Take a Short Walk Off the Beaten Path

You don’t need to go on a wild goose chase trying to find breathtaking fall views for landscape photography.

While evergreen trees are plentiful in Yosemite, you’ll never know when you’ll come across a patch of deciduous trees—so have your camera ready and be willing to look past some of the most popular paths.

Thank you to Derek Edwards for sharing these tips for visiting Yosemite in the fall. Check out Derek’s website for awesome outdoor activities like camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking and more!

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