Why Yosemite National Park Was a Disappointment

Why Yosemite National Park Was a Disappointment

Maybe it was because of the years my husband and I have experienced the solitude and tranquility of Algonquin Park in Northern Ontario. Maybe it was because of how seriously we take backpacking and how much we love the outdoors . . .

Because unfortunately, our experience in Yosemite National Park did not live up to expectations. We experienced no solitude or tranquility and witnessed countless visitors disrespecting the beautiful natural environment we were all immersed in.

We couldn’t help but frequently ask one another, “What is with these people?”

We stayed in Half Dome Village down in the valley. We chose to stay in this area since it was close access to the hiking paths we planned to embark upon. Signs everywhere reminded visitors to Stay On The Boardwalks to protect the meadows. While the boardwalks provided ample opportunity to explore the beautiful setting, countless people ignored these signs.

Whether it was posing for photo shoots, letting their children run wild, or sheer ignorance, people trampled freely through the meadows, damaging the food and habitat for numerous wildlife.

The attitude people demonstrated was another surprise. My husband and I made small talk with one man who complained that his girlfriend dragged him out to go hiking when he preferred to “stay in” and watch TV. First of all, the park being equipped with TVs was the first surprise, not to mention his aversion to being outdoors. And second of all, why are you even here if you prefer to watch TV? This was one of many visitors who seemed to share the same attitude.

We also never expected to experience traffic jams in Yosemite. Strollers, buggies, motorcycles, tour buses, and shuttle buses crammed the streets within the park. There were advertisements throughout the park for musicals and plays. Visitors would stay up late partying in the restaurants or at their tents, blaring music and hollering into the night. Again, Yosemite never struck me as a party/entertainment destination.

Despite the shock of the feeling like being in a theme park over a nature park, we could always make an escape to the trails . . .

In theory.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side, so a quick and easy escape to the trails was not an option. We had days of nonstop pouring rain that eventually converted into snow, transforming the hiking paths into very slippery and dicey terrain.

If we couldn’t hike, we could at the very least drive to the top of the mountain for the iconic view of Half Dome. Alas, once at the top we could see nothing but fog, barely making out an outstretched hand in front of our face, and certainly not the gigantic mountain standing just before us. We just couldn’t see a thing. So close, yet so far.

A few people decided to hike down despite the freezing weather, but I simply couldn’t do it as I was shivering to the bone the second we stepped out of the car. We soon retreated back to our tent and I buried myself in my sleeping bag underneath two wool blankets.

We planned on spending almost our entire time in the park hiking. If the weather wasn’t against us, we would’ve been just fine because we’d be spending our time hiking and enjoying the beautiful scenery Yosemite has to offer!

At the very least, we did see a bit of the park on our first day before the nasty weather rolled in. If the boardwalks down in the valley offered views as picturesque as they were, I can only imagine how beautiful the trails would be!


A visit to Yosemite National Park was expected to be the highlight of our trip to California. I don’t think we would return to Yosemite. We enjoy parks that are much more remote and where seeing another hiker is few and far between.

We packed up a day early and got out of there. Luckily, Carmel-by-the-sea was our next stop and the sunshine and sea were eagerly awaiting us.

Have you stayed in Half Dome Village or hiked Yosemite National Park before? What was your experience? I would love to hear your thoughts!


My passion for capturing memories through the lens of my camera, my love for food and the joy I find in reflecting on my travel memories using a pen and paper results in a series of blog entries filled with warmth, pure happiness and inspiration. I hope to share a little bit of myself and my adventure of life with you.


  • That’s very sad to hear about people not respecting the rules, but then again sadly this seems to happen everywhere. It always frustrates me as well. On my trip around California I missed out on Yosemite because of flooding at the time and I have always wanted to go since. The hike to the dome is also high on my bucket list. It’s ashame you had bad weather and couldn’t do it. Must be frustrating getting all the way there and having the rain but there is nothing you can do about the weather. Hope you change your mind and return one day and manage to do this hike. Wonder if there is a quieter time of the year to go?

    • That is very true – absolutely nothing that you can do about terrible weather! We went in October which was supposed to be a quieter time of year but I suspect the park is always super busy from spring to fall.

  • I’m sorry that your trip to Yosemite National Park didn’t work out that well. I wonder if it’s more tranquil off season or is it always so crowded? We also love National Parks, but it has to be remote and wildlife must have it’s own space to roam around without being disturbed too much. Even in South Africa the parks are sometimes getting too crowded, especially during holiday season.

  • I could see where you would be disappointed. Yosemite in peak season can be a zoo. The shoulder season might help you find your solitude. We went to Big Basin Redwoods in mid September and found the trails tranquil and empty. The ranger said two weeks earlier the park was overflowing with campers and day hikers. Trampling meadows and … I’ll say it – strollers are pet peeves. Especially parents who use their stroller as a tool to ram their way through crowds.

    • I just didn’t expect to see so many strollers in a place like this. I also didn’t expect for it to be so family orientated, and that’s why we felt like we were more in a theme park!

  • I am surprised to hear this, I’ve heard great reviews about the Park. But I understand how frustrating it can be in a place that is full of crowds and traffic jams are immense. I personally also prefer more remote areas, just like you. And yes, the weather also plays a major role. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience!

  • This must have been such a frustrating experience for you! There’s nothing worse than trying to get out into nature and enjoy the peace, only to have other people disrespecting the trails and trampling all over the place. It’s such a shame that the weather was poor while you were there too. Hopefully your next hiking experience can be a more positive one.

  • I’ve definitely had disappointing travel experiences. It really sucks when the weather just isn’t in your favor, but unfortunately, there just isn’t anything you can do to control the weather. I went all the way to Nepal to hike the Annapurna Circuit and the weather was pretty much raining or misty the entire time. I only got a brief glimpse of the Annapurnas. I hiked soaked through all my clothes for five days, but I still enjoyed parts of it.

    I haven’t been to Yosemite, but it sounds like you really only got to experience the campground. Hope you go back to actually experience the park. Maybe research some better times of year to visit when the weather won’t completely rain out your plans.

  • It’s always a pity to hear about people behave in such a way! I guess some people should stay at home, because they when they complain they make everybody around miserable as well.
    It happened to me a few times as well – to be i a beautiful place where peace and quiet was spoilt by hoardes of loud tourists.

  • How disappointing. I hope you will return at a different time, maybe off-season with better weather, and see the true beauty of Yosemite without all of the issues you had this time. It may change your opinions entirely. The pictures look beautiful, although I can see how thick the fog was which is so unfortunate because I bet the view from the top of the mountain would be fantastic to see in person.

  • Sorry to hear that Yosemite National Park didn’t live up to expectations. We felt the same in Yellowstone. It’s wonderful that so many people want to get outdoors and experience nature, but there definitely comes a point where the mass tourism is too much and honestly people shouldn’t be there if they’re not willing to respect the landscapes and fragile ecosystem.

    I actually feel as though the majority of the US national parks have become more “theme park” and we now aim for the State Parks instead. Much more natural pristine beauty without idiots and mass tourism. Getting national park status is almost like a curse!

  • I am so happy to see this post. I felt the same way about the Grand Canyon. I guess we are supposed to love the national park when that is not the case all the time

  • Such unfortunate that you didn’t have a great experience. I guess encountering disappointing moments are also part and parcel of travel. Nevertheless the national park still looks very beautiful though!

  • So sad to read about your misadventures in Yosemite . . Unfortunately we cannot predict the weather when we book in advance so you were unlucky. But the worst is the disrespectful people who don’t care about the environment. I would send them all to Disney World!!!

  • I’me sorry to read about this. Ive been to Yesomote park but ut was a hard one due to the large number of visitors. And it’s like everyone just wants to be there, I mean, there ought to be some serious strict rules guiding the park. Really. And to think the weather is unpredictable, you must had a big annoying time there. You might want to go again. This time, with a good weather condition and less tourists, hopefully.

  • I can relate to what you wrote. I have had the similar experience when doing Mt Everest Base Camp earlier this year. I look forward to read more adventures!


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