Yosemite is massive
The overwhelming majority of the people will be clustered in a few choice vistas, and all the traffic will be associated with getting into and out of the Valley. Given what we’ve heard from people who go in the summer, and especially on weekends, it’s strongly preferable to go in the spring or fall and during the week if possible.
We’ve done five hikes in the park, so I’ll only speak to what we know. Favorites come first
Moderate difficulty, with a handful of are-you-kidding-me vistas.
Hard, long, slightly nerve-wracking at the summit and with spectacular pay-off.
Tiring vertical scrambling, but with two amazing waterfalls.
A short hike that starts with brief but intense climb at elevation — the climb begins at 10,000 feet. The payoff is trails that navigate sparse, isolated lakes and alpine fields.
Convenient to the western entrances to the park, oriented around a huge dammed lake, and honestly somewhat forgettable.
Where to Stay
We’ve stayed twice at Rush Creek Lodge and we absolutely love it.
Vibe: Just a couple years old. Really nice without being fancy. Family-friendly. Focus is squarely on people and the outdoors (no TVs in the rooms).
Amenities: A restaurant and a pub; heated saltwater pool and two hot tubs, which is key post-hike with a beer; commissary that sells tons of snacks, sandwiches, etc. to load up each morning
Location: Really convenient; a mile from the western entrance to the park, ~30m to Hetch Hetchy, ~60m to the valley, ~75m to Tuolumne Meadows and Glacier Point
The same company also operates Evergreen, which is ~10m away and looks nice, though older.
There are, of course, tons of camping options in the park if that’s your scene, and one grand old-fashioned hotel that is classic but expensive and often booked.