Yosemite National Park vs Yellowstone National Park

Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park are two highly regarded natural parks in the United States.

They feature a vast amount of natural wonders and beautiful scenes. 

Many visitors go to these parks not just to admire nature but also to camp and indulge in other adventurous and fun activities.

Yosemite National Park vs Yellowstone National Park is a tough choice when selecting a place for holidaying.

If you’re trying to decide which one of these attractions to go to, let us assist by discussing the features of both of these amazing places.

Weigh the pros and cons based on your preference and select the park that best suits what you’re looking for.


Since both Yosemite and Yellowstone are national parks, they don’t have a fixed, certain address; they are spread over a vast area of land.

When it comes to Yosemite National Park, it covers over 1,200 square miles of space in the Sierra Nevada range of California.

With such a large spread, Yosemite covers space in four counties.

The coordinates for Yosemite National Park are 37° 44′ 33″ N 119° 32′ 15″ W. However, it is advised not to use GPS when in Yosemite as it may be inaccurate.

Following signs and road maps inside the park is the better and preferred option.

As far as Yellowstone National Park is concerned, it covers 3,500 square miles of land and extends into three states: Wyoming (mainly), Idaho and Montana.

It is at an elevation of 2,470 m (8104 ft), and its coordinates are 44° 35′ 47.0004″ N 110° 32′ 49.9992″ W.

As with Yosemite, it is better to stick to road signs and maps instead of GPS while navigating.

While it isn’t easy to reach and cover either park, if you visit Yosemite, you can travel quickly from neighboring places and also see nearby attractions.

There is not much else around Yellowstone, and it takes longer to reach it from the neighboring areas.


Yellowstone National Park vs Yosemite is a tough contest when it comes to the features.

It is difficult to have a decisive winner in this category as both national parks boast beautiful elements of nature that attract millions of visitors.

Moreover, both parks have some similar and different features, so it might not be a question of which one is better in the Yosemite National Park vs Yellowstone National Park contest, but which one do you prefer? 

Features of Yosemite National Park

Yosemite-National-Park-California highlights
Image: Britannica.com

Yosemite National Park is predominantly granite. It features massive granite formations shaped through erosion, weathering and glaciers.

Visitors can also expect to see beautiful sights such as cliffs, waterfalls, sequoias, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers and so much more.

Many animals live in the wilderness, and you can also find special types of plant life at this national park.

Animals found in Yosemite National Park include black bears, deer, bobcats, a variety of birds, snakes and fish, native and non-native.

20% of California’s plant species occur in the park. More than 150 rare plant species are found here which is why the park authorities are careful to prevent overcrowding and invasion into restricted areas.

Yosemite Valley is the most popular area of the park. Making up a very small portion of the national park, it features granite domes, cliffs and viewpoints with amazing scenes.

Waterfalls in particular are a big factor in Yosemite’s popularity. It features numerous waterfalls all offering different types of beautiful sights.

Horsetail Falls is the most famous one. Many assemble to see the sunlight strike the waterfall at an angle that gives it the appearance of fire.

It is also known as Firefall for this reason. This is a rare event that can only be seen at a certain time of the day.

The waterfalls in Yosemite mostly run dry by the summer.

Features of Yellowstone National Park

Features of Yellowstone National Park
Image: Bbc.com

Yellowstone National Park is a volcano caldera situated atop the Yellowstone Plateau. It is a place with many unique features and lots of geothermal activities.

The park boasts many rare animals and plants and splendid views. It features hundreds of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Yellowstone comprises lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges as well.

Some of the animals found in Yellowstone are grizzly bears, cougars, wolves, bison and elk.

Nearly 70000 species of plants can be found in Yellowstone, including exotic species. Most notably, The Yellowstone Sand Verbena is a flower found only in Yellowstone.

Volcanic activities are also a significant feature of Yellowstone National Park.  The caldera is the biggest volcanic system in the North American continent.

The Yellowstone Caldera is a massive supervolcano, with scientists stating that a high-scale eruption similar to the ones that have occurred historically in the currently dormant volcano would be an extinction-level event.

Due to the presence of volcanoes, earthquakes are common in the park, but they are quite small in magnitude and don’t even register with the visitors.

Apart from volcanoes, another interesting feature is the geysers of Yellowstone. They are famous similar to the waterfalls of Yosemite.

The Old Faithful geyser erupts every 90 minutes and is the most famous one. Castle geyser, Grand geyser, Giant geyser and Steamboat geyser are the other major ones.

Many more geothermal wonders such as hot springs, fumaroles and mudpots are present in a high number at Yellowstone National Park.

If you look at Yosemite National Park vs Yellowstone on the basis of features, Yellowstone has more sightseeing opportunities with more animal and plant species, volcanic activity and geothermal attractions.


Yosemite National Park hiking
Image: NPS.gov

Hiking is a recreational activity that many indulge in at both parks. Yosemite National Park vs Yellowstone National Park with respect to hiking depends on two factors.

One is the weather patterns and the other is the crowd density. 

Yosemite is full of granite monoliths which give it a great advantage when it comes to hiking trails. 

The views, as discussed, are unmatched at both the parks but trails in Yosemite are busier.

Spotting wildlife on trails is unlikelier in Yosemite as compared to Yellowstone because of much more abundance in the latter.

The weather is more reliable or predictable in Yosemite.

Overall, both parks will offer great views of nature, but Yellowstone is quieter, and Yosemite is safer or easier.


Yosemite National Park accomodation
Image: NPS.gov

Yellowstone vs Yosemite National Park in terms of accommodation is fairly even. 

Both parks provide comfortable hotels, cozy cabins and luxurious accommodations. You can also camp for a truer natural experience.

There are many famous as well as small-scale hotels available at both places. Yosemite fills up faster as it is visited by more people.

In 2022, Yosemite was visited by approximately 3.6 million people while Yellowstone saw 3.2 million visits over the same period of time.

If you want to have a better chance at reservations and less crowd density, Yellowstone is ideal.

Both national parks have similar costs for accommodation, entry, and food. 

One can argue that since Yellowstone is bigger, it would be more fun for less money, but since it also would take longer to explore, the overall costs are more or less the same.


Overall, in this Yosemite National Park vs Yellowstone National Park comparison, we can make the following conclusions:

  • Yosemite is busier, but the weather is milder. Yellowstone is bigger and quieter but with unpredictable weather. 
  • There are more places around Yosemite, that leave space for sightseeing further such as the San Francisco city. 

Yellowstone doesn’t have cities nearby, and it is likely to be the only item on your tour menu.

  • Yellowstone features more animal and plant species but natural landscapes are serene with their own different characteristics in both the parks.
  • Yosemite has better hiking trails however it is more crowded. Quieter hikes can be done in Yellowstone with beautiful views too.
  • The accommodation settings are equally well-equipped at both parks. Once again, owing to more visitors, Yosemite may fill up faster.

These points of difference don’t necessarily produce a winner in the Yellowstone National Park vs Yosemite National Park debate, rather they are points whose preference varies for individuals.

Views that leave visitors speechless are something both parks share. There are many attributes that are quite different because of how and where both parks exist.

Explore the beautiful viewpoints, meadows, waterfalls, valleys, etc. with a guided tour to Yosemite

Admire the mountains, geothermal features, canyons, and more on a full-day Yellowstone tour.

Your choice ultimately comes down to the type of scenery you prefer, the distance to the parks and the time you have at your disposal. 

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