Yosemite gets 2.5 to 3 million visitors per year.
(4 million was the peak in 1994)
Some people enjoy crowds. Don’t ask me why; it’s just part of what makes the world go ’round. Yes, in the summer Yosemite has crowds and if you enjoy making new friends and hanging out with lots of people, Yosemite Valley can accommodate you. The campgrounds, while fun, and convenient to everything there is to do in the Valley, are totally void of privacy. The campsites are jammed in on top of each other, and you will become friends with the occupants of an adjoining site; you won’t be able to avoid each other. If your neighbor snores, you will get no sleep. The campgrounds in Tuolumne are compact, but not as bad as in the valley. The restaurants, hotels, lodges and so on in the valley, are typical tourist crowds. Kids and teenagers enjoy making new friends, and I suppose that’s justification enough. But if you want to get away, alone, it’s real easy to do. Go for an over night “camp-out” down a wilderness trail out of the valley, or hang out in the Tuolumne Meadows area. At Tuolumne Meadows there are miles of trails on reasonably even terrain with terrific views and good fishing where one can find solitude easily without a lot of physical exertion.
You can go rafting, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, bicycling, swimming, fishing (NO hunting), climbing, exploring, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, camping, picnicking, engage in photography, art, astronomy and nature studies. Or, you can just sit around and read, stare at climbers on El Capitan, contemplate the clouds or follow ants trooping over your shoe. You can go shopping, ride guided tours, climb a huge rock with rope ladders and cables (Half Dome), play golf, go to a museum or just write a letter.
You can eat reconstituted freeze-dried trail-gruel or the finest gourmet meal and everything in between.
There’s a doctor, dentist, magistrate, police force (park ranger), jail, courtroom, post office, church, auto garage and stable.
The point is, let your imagination run. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you are new to the wilderness, and you’re just not one of these “roughing it” people, you can keep your creature comforts and still get a healthy taste of a genuine wilderness experience. You can go in royal style when you utilize the pack services to take you into the back country. There truly is nothing like being comfortable in the back country for a few days to get the full flavor of what Yosemite is all about. And, without getting on my soapbox, words do not exist that adequately describe the feeling of watching the sunrise from a Yosemite high-wilderness vantage point, or a sunset under the same circumstances. Surely, you must experience it at least once in your life.
Again, it will take you about two weeks of intense, 10 hours-a-day effort to do everything there is to do in this magnificent place.