Summer nights in a national park include the soft glow of the Milky Way rising over your campsite, granite peaks lit by the full moon during an evening hike, and the twinkle of stars and planets from a roadside vista point. In California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park is a harbor of darkness in a highly populated state, providing an excellent opportunity to truly experience the star-filled night. In addition to all the daytime hiking, biking, rafting and rock climbing under sunny Sierra skies, the summer evenings in Yosemite can be just as full of activity and wonder.
With thirteen campgrounds and seven lodging options inside the park, summer nights in Yosemite can be filled with a range of activities such as dining in an historic hotel, socializing with s’mores around the campfire or contemplating the awed silence of fellow stargazers. For the celestially minded, Yosemite’s park rangers give sunset talks, full moon hikes, the “Stars Over Yosemite” Program at Glacier Point and Moonlight Tours aboard the Yosemite Valley open air trams. In addition to ranger programs, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite offers Stargazing Tours to Glacier Point, Full Moon Bike Rides in Yosemite Valley and the “Starry Skies” program that takes place in the meadows of Yosemite Valley and Wawona.
Two evening programs at LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite Valley also focus on stars this summer: Dr. Tyler Nordgren’s presentation on “Night Skies & Stars over Yosemite”, and NASA volunteer ambassador, Janet Wood, will present “A Celebration of Stars”. For the diners and socializers, you’ll find hospitality every evening at The Ahwahnee Dining Room and at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls’ Mountain Room Restaurant and Lounge, including evening presentations about the natural and cultural history of Yosemite. Summer nights at the Curry Village Pizza Deck & Bar are a park visitor tradition. In Yosemite Village you can experience live theater presented by the Yosemite Conservancy, with topics ranging from historic figures to daring adventures. At the Wawona Hotel, you’ll find dinner and entertainment in the form of vintage Yosemite songs played by pianist and storyteller Tom Bopp.
Yosemite fun and activity after dark doesn’t stop when summer has ended. As the days grow shorter in fall and winter, there is plenty of time for evening fun with fireside storytelling and Yosemite’s Signature Food and Wine events at The Ahwahnee. Vintners’ Holidays in the fall, the Bracebridge Dinner during the holiday season and Chefs’ Holidays during the winter all include lodging and dinner packages to maximize your culinary experience. Vintners’ Holidays features prominent winemakers showcasing their vintages. Bracebridge Dinner transforms the dining room into a 17th century English manor for a feast of food, song and mirth. Chefs’ Holidays provides a cooking adventure showcasing the range of styles, personalities and trends that characterize the American culinary scene. Besides a winter’s eve filled with food and wine, you can also stay active after dark at the Curry Village Ice Rink with evening ice skating sessions and participate in a snowshoe walk under the light of the full moon in Yosemite Valley. No matter the season, there are wondrous things to see and do after dark in Yosemite National Park.
By Michelle Hansen, Communications Coordinator at DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite
Photos provided by Chris Falkenstein, Lani Spicer and Richard Nowitz, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite