Yosemite Picnic Areas

In Yosemite National Park, visitors love to have picnics. 

Young families, groups of friends, and couples all adore picnicking in Yosemite. 

Yosemite picnic areas are abundant, so you may pause and have lunch with friends, family, or someone special while exploring almost any park section.

Places to Picnic in Yosemite

Places to picnic in Yosemite
Image: NPS.gov

There are multiple Yosemite picnic areas throughout the park.

You can picnic at Mariposa Grove, Yosemite Creek, Tenaya Lake, Lembert Dome, Sentinel Beach, Lower Yosemite Fall, and Cathedral Beach.

You can even purchase food for the picnic at Curry Village restaurants or the Yosemite Village visitor center, close to some picnic areas.

Set up in a designated Yosemite picnic area or any other suitable location you discover.

Several facilities are available at official Yosemite picnic areas:

  • Most of Yosemite’s picnic spots contain picnic tables, vault toilets, and garbage and recycling bins.
  • Grills, picnic tables with extended tops and accessible restrooms or vault toilets are available at most locations. 
  • Picnic spots lack access to potable water except for two locations, Church Bowl and Lower Yosemite Fall.
  • All spots are offered on a first-come, first-served basis from dawn to dusk. Reservations are not accepted at any designated picnic spot in Yosemite.

Enjoy a semi-private Yosemite tour that includes hotel pickup, lunch at Ahwahnee, and a breathtaking view of Yosemite’s picnic spots.

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley picnic
Image: NPS.gov

The Yosemite Valley offers various designated Yosemite National Park picnic areas:

  • El Capitan Picnic Area (Shuttle stop E3 at El Capitan)
  • Cathedral Beach (wheelchair inaccessible; close to El Capitan Shuttle stop E4)
  • Church Bowl Picnic Area (no restrooms; proximity to Valley Shuttle stop #3)
  • Lower Yosemite Falls Picnic Area (No grills; potable water; Valley Shuttle stop #6)
  • Sentinel Beach Picnic Area (walking distance from El Capitan Shuttle stop E5)
  • Swinging Bridge (walking distance from El Capitan Shuttle stop E5)

Download the Yosemite Valley picnic areas map here.  

You can pick any of the Yosemite National Park picnic areas mentioned above for convenience, but remember, these will be packed during the peak spring and early summer seasons.

Any designated spot throughout Yosemite with an enticing view is a great place to set your sheets for a peaceful picnic.

Tioga Road and Tuolumne Meadows

Tuolumne Meadows
Image: NPS.gov

Find these authorized picnic places if you drive along Tioga Road or Tuolumne Meadows and want a relaxing lunch break.

  • Yosemite Creek Picnic Area

Near Yosemite Creek, with five tables, this picnic area is quiet and surrounded by a swath of pine trees.

Located just a few miles east of White Wolf Road along Tioga Road, this area is open from late May or early June until November.

Grills are not available at this location. 

  • Tenaya Lake

Stop at the Tenaya Lake picnic area to unwind beside the water and sand amid granite domes.

The spot along Tioga Road is less than 7 miles (11 km) west of Tuolumne Meadows.

Tioga Road is open for vehicles from late May or early June till November.

  • Lembert Dome 

Lembert Dome Picnic Area lies at the Young Lakes trailhead on Tioga Road, which continues Highway 120.  

Grills are not available at this location. 


Image: NPS.gov

Three Yosemite picnic areas in Wawona include:

  • Mariposa Grove Road (limited to vehicles displaying a disability placard; not wheelchair accessible)

For vehicles with a disability placard and people hiking the Washburn Trail, the Mariposa Grove Picnic Area is always accessible.

Vehicles without a handicap placard can use the picnic area without shuttle buses.

The Mariposa Grove picnic area is accessible through Washburn Trail and Mariposa Grove Road.

While Mariposa Grove Road is still accessible to skiers, snowshoers, and hikers during the winter months of December through March, it is closed to vehicles.

  • Pioneer Yosemite History Center (across from the Wawona Store)

Picnic among a collection of historic buildings and learn stories of people who moved here from around the world and shaped Yosemite’s development. 

To access this complex, park in the Wawona Store and Pioneer Gift Shop parking lot next to the Wawona Hotel on Wawona Road (a continuation of Highway 41).

  • South of Wawona Campground

Sit beside the Wawona River in this year-round Yosemite picnic area on Wawona Road near the Wawona Campground. 

Alternatively, you could locate a place for yourself elsewhere.

Swinging Bridge/Wawona Swimming Hole is a great location for a picnic after a short hike (1.5-mile round-trip) from the end of Forest Drive on Wawona Road along Highway 41. 

Lake McClure/Lake McSwain

Lake McClure
Image: NPS.gov

Consider a picnic at Lake McClure and Lake McSwain during a hot summer day.

After the picnic, you can enjoy various outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, and mountain biking.

You can explore kilometers of shoreline between the two lovely lakes and five fantastic recreational parks.

Staying Safe While Picnicking

Staying safe while picnicking
Image: Facebook.com/YosemiteNPS

Wildlife frequently visits the picnic areas in Yosemite National Park.

The aroma of our food attracts the animals in Yosemite. 

However, it’s crucial to preserve your distance from park animals and never feed them. 

Despite their desire, animals can be harmed by eating human food.

Additionally, the aroma of human meals may attract larger animals like bears and mountain lions. 

It’s crucial never to feed these larger animals and to thoroughly clean up your picnic place when you have finished making Yosemite’s picnic areas as safe as possible. 

If you dispose of your food properly, keeping bears and larger animals away from Yosemite picnic spots will be easier.

Tips for Picnics

Here are some suggestions to help you have a relaxing and safe picnic in the wild.

Bring your own water or a water filter. Local picnic spots do not provide potable water.

Keep a safe distance and never feed wild animals, including deer, birds, or squirrels, for protection.

Avoid setting up picnics in delicate ecosystems.  

Do not leave your food in the car. The park offers bear-proof food lockers for storing all food items.

Clean after you are finished and leave nothing behind. Carry a separate bag to store all the trash and dispose of it in bear-proof trash cans or dumpsters.

What to Pack for Your Picnic

What to pack for your picnic
Image: Canva

Consider bringing sandwiches, chips, and brownies if you’re going on a family picnic. 

You and your significant other would like a crisp salad and some strawberries covered in chocolate for your picnic. 

The options are virtually limitless when you have your kitchen to cook your Yosemite picnic.

Additionally, you should have games and activities to enjoy before, during, and after your dinner. 

Think about taking a baseball or a volleyball along with some gloves. 

Alternatively, bring hiking boots and stroll through the forest before or after your picnic. 

Make sure you have fantastic Yosemite lodgings to return to at the end of the day, regardless of where you decide to go and what you choose to do for your picnic.


Can you have a picnic in Yosemite?

There are many appealing picnic spots in Yosemite National Park. 
Yosemite Valley, Tioga Road, Tuolumne Meadows, Wawona, Lake McClure and Lake McSwain are popular picnic spots in the park.

What is the most famous part of Yosemite?

Tunnel View is considered to be the most famous area in Yosemite by most. 
It is the most visited region. Other famous spots include Yosemite Falls and Half Dome.

Where is the best place to park at Yosemite?

Yosemite Village is the best place to park if you’re visiting for a day. 
Curry Village is also another good option.

Can you park anywhere in Yosemite?

Parking in Yosemite is limited. You can park in designated areas that go quickly during peak season. 
You can also use the well-connected transport system.

Can I use a stove in Yosemite picnic areas?

Yosemite National Park sometimes implements fire restrictions, such as during summer, to avert the danger of spreading fires.

Despite the restrictions, portable stoves using pressurized gas, alcohol, propane and liquid fuel are allowed. You must attend the fires vigilantly.

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Featured Image: Nps.gov

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