Yosemite Big Oak Flat Entrance: Where to Stay and What to Do

Nestled in the heart of California’s wilderness, Yosemite National Park is an escape into nature, where granite cliffs touch the sky, and ancient sequoias tell tales of old. Imagine a day where towering cliffs, the gentle mist of waterfalls, and the sight of bears foraging blend into an unforgettable experience. Yosemite is not just a destination; it’s a journey through landscapes that have stirred souls for generations, with each vista telling a story of untamed nature. Just 10 minutes from the park’s west entrance awaits our newest camp, Under Canvas Yosemite, your gateway to exploring this magical realm.

Experience Yosemite’s Timelessness

As you step into Yosemite, you’re stepping into the history of the U.S.’s third-oldest national park, established in 1890. Here, the giants of El Capitan and Half Dome have stood as silent witnesses to the footsteps of pioneers and the black and white photos taken by Ansel Adams that made them famous. Yosemite helped shape the national park movement as we know it and continues to captivate with its timeless splendor, a reminder of the beauty and power of nature.

Yosemite Big Oak Flat Entrance

If you want to explore Yosemite Valley, the best entrance is the Big Oak Flat Entrance, the park’s west entrance. Just minutes from our newest camp, Under Canvas Yosemite, this entrance gives you access to famous sights like Tunnel View, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Falls. Our camp is conveniently located across from a YART shuttle stop, offering easy, car-free access to the park.

Visit California’s Oldest Saloon in Groveland

Along the way, don’t miss Groveland, a quaint town close to the park with shops, hotels, and restaurants. Located 24 miles from the Big Oak Flat Entrance, it is the largest town between the entrance and Sonora, California. Stop at the historic Iron Door Saloon, the oldest continuously operating saloon in the state, with a family-friendly atmosphere with food, drink, and live music.

Stop at the Big Oak Flat Information Station

After the Yosemite Big Oak Flat Entrance, make your way to the Big Oak Flat Information Station. Open from May through October, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., it’s an ideal spot to use the restroom and gather more information about the park. Here, you can pick up maps and books to guide your Yosemite experience.

Top Things to See in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park is a treasure trove of natural wonders with sights that spellbind. We recommend dedicating three to five days to explore Yosemite’s diverse and awe-inspiring landscapes. Let’s journey through some of the most captivating sights Yosemite has to offer.

El Capitan

Stand in awe of El Capitan, a towering granite monolith that presents a formidable challenge to climbers and a breathtaking spectacle to onlookers. Spend a peaceful afternoon in El Capitan Meadow, binoculars in hand, as you watch skilled climbers conquer the iconic face of this majestic rock formation.

Tunnel View

Soak in a postcard-perfect panorama where El Capitan, Half Dome, and waterfalls come together to frame nature’s masterpiece.

Yosemite Falls

Discover North America’s tallest waterfall. This magnificent natural feature comprises three separate cascades. Embark on the one-mile loop trail around the base of the Lower Falls, where you’ll be greeted with spectacular views and refreshing sprays.

Mariposa Grove

Wander through a sanctuary of ancient giant sequoias, the largest living beings on Earth. Time stands still as you explore over 500 mature trees, including the renowned Grizzly Giant and the iconic California Tunnel Tree.

Cloud’s Rest

Take on the challenge of the 12.5-mile trail to Cloud’s Rest, a journey that rewards you with panoramic views 1,000 feet above Half Dome. Starting from the serene Tenaya Lake, just off Tioga Road, this hike offers a breathtaking perspective without needing a permit.

Glacier Point

Witness commanding views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Yosemite’s high country, creating an ideal setting for birdwatching, hiking, and stargazing. Drive or take the free shuttle to reach the overlook.

Half Dome

Standing nearly 8,800 feet tall, it shares the title of Yosemite’s most iconic sight with El Capitan. Secure a permit for an all-day hike to its summit, join a rock climbing lesson with Yosemite Mountaineering School, or marvel at its beauty forged by erosion and glaciation from many places in the park.

Horsetail Fall

Catch a glimpse of “The Firefall,” where the setting sun casts a glow of red and orange hues each February, creating the illusion of a fiery waterfall. This mesmerizing spectacle, best viewed from the El Capitan Picnic Area, displays nature’s magic.

Things to Do in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park boasts over 700 miles of hiking trails, scenic drives through awe-inspiring landscapes, pristine mountain lakes, misty waterfalls, and abundant wildlife, offering an unparalleled escape into nature with countless sights and activities at every turn.

Hiking Trails

Yosemite is home to some of the most iconic hikes in the world, each offering breathtaking views. The Mist Trail, leading to the spectacular Vernal and Nevada Falls, or the Carlon Falls Trail, are must-dos for up-close waterfall views. The Half Dome hike, while challenging, rewards the daring with panoramas of the Sierra Nevada. For a serene experience, the trails through Mariposa Grove bring you face-to-face with ancient giant sequoias. Stop by The Big Oak Flat Information Station to pick up a Yosemite map.

Tioga Road Scenic Drive

Journey through Yosemite’s “high country” along the 46-mile scenic drive from Crane Flat to Tioga Pass. Each bend unveils stunning vistas—from Olmsted Point for Half Dome views to the serene beauty of Tenaya Lake. Stop at Lembert Dome, a white granite monolith, to hike around its base or run up and down its steep sides.

Tenaya Lake

Find peace at Tenaya Lake, a pristine alpine gem between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows. Surrounded by imposing granite domes and clear Sierra Nevada skies, this idyllic lake is perfect for kayaking or a refreshing swim on a summer day.

Tuolumne Meadows

Sitting at a lofty elevation of 8,600 feet, view a kaleidoscope of summer wildflowers against the backdrop of granite domes. The winding Tuolumne River mirrors the majesty of the surrounding peaks, offering a tranquil escape in the high sierras.

Wildlife Spotting

The park’s lowland rivers and alpine meadows are home to over 1,500 plant species, from the towering sequoias in Mariposa Grove to kaleidoscopic wildflowers in Tuolumne Meadow. Skies filled with the majestic flight of eagles and falcons and grounds roamed by black bears, mule deer, bobcats, and the endangered bighorn sheep offer visitors a glimpse into the heart of nature’s sanctuary.

Where to Stay Near Yosemite Big Oak Flat Entrance

Discover comfort in nature at Under Canvas Yosemite, just 10 minutes from Yosemite’s Big Oak Flat Entrance, offering unmatched access to the park’s many trails, adventures, and wonders. Set in an 80-acre pine forest near trailheads and a natural swimming hole, our 71 safari-inspired tents feature king-size beds, en suite bathrooms, and comforts like electric mattress pads and space heaters, ensuring a cozy retreat. At Under Canvas Yosemite, you can wake to the scent of pine, enjoy coffee on your deck, and stargaze at night, all while spending your days exploring Yosemite’s cliffs and waterfalls by day and sleeping comfortably under the stars.


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