Top 5 Ways to Stay Cool in Yosemite

With the unseasonably warm temperatures in the mid-90s forecast for Yosemite over the next few days, we asked our awesome fans over on Facebook for some of their favorite tips on staying cool in the park. We’ve summarized some of their wisdom here. Although, of course, as one of our fans points out, “Just being in Yosemite makes you a lot cooler….”

Take advantage of the many lakes and rivers

Take advantage of Yosemite’s lakes and rivers to stay cool during the summer.

There are countless swimming holes and beaches in Yosemite for those who are looking to cool off during the warmest part of the day. The Merced River runs down the center of Yosemite Valley, and is lined with many wonderful sandy beaches that are perfect for swimming, water play, or just relaxing with a good book. Just make sure you stick to the sandy beaches and respect the areas closed for rehabilitation so that you don’t compact or erode soil around fragile riverbank plants. A few favorite spots include Housekeeping Camp beaches or Sentinel Beach. During the early part of the season when the water is high, but not too cold, rental rafts are available at Curry Village if you want to enjoy a scenic float down the river.

Head for the High Country

At ~4000 feet, Yosemite Valley is already cooler than much of the surrounding areas, and people from the central valley have been coming up to Yosemite to cool off for decades. And the higher you go, the cooler it gets. At ~8000ft, the Tuolumne area can be 10 degrees cooler than the Valley.
If you want to combine these two top tips –Tenaya Lake’s expansive beaches in a spectacular mountain setting got a lot of votes from our fans.

Drink Water Often

In its Heat Safety Fact Sheet, OSHA recommends drinking every 15 minutes, even if you aren’t thirsty. Drinking water helps keeps your body’s own cooling systems running smoothly.

Bring a reusable water bottle and fill up on fresh cool water from Yosemite’s taps. Yosemite’s tap water is healthy, clean and very drinkable. Download the Green Guide to find water refill stations along with other useful information on protecting Yosemite’s environment. Be sure to treat any water you pull from rivers or lakes.

Be a Shade Seeker

It can be surprising how much cooler it is in the shade here than in the sun. If you don’t want to just relax in the shade all day, consider bringing some of that cooling shade with you wherever you go. Sunhats provide relief from the heat of the sun, and light-weight long sleeved shirts can actually be cooler than being exposed to the sun.

Know Your Limits

Knowing your limits is always a good idea. In hot weather, you may not be able to go as far or as fast as you’re used to. Take your time, and rest often (in the shade if you can). It’s also important to be aware of the symptoms of heat illness; dizziness, headache, abnormally fast heart beat, cramps, nausea and vomiting. If you see any of these signs, it is a good idea to stop and take some time to cool off.


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