map of Yosemite Falls day use parking lot

a few rows of cars in a parking lot

The Yosemite Falls Day Use parking lot

also known as the

Yosemite Lodge Day Use parking lot

is across the road from Camp 4 (Camp Four) and at the edge of Yosemite Valley Lodge.

Besides being the best day use parking lot for people taking the hike to upper Yosemite Fall, it is also a good place for guests at Yosemite Valley Lodge to park their extra vehicles

simple map

parking lot from above

map with roads and parking spaces

The long, straight road section, separate from the rest of the parking, at the bottom of the tan map above,
labeled Yosemite Lodge Service Road is reserved for big tour buses only.

sign with no parking symbolsrow of large tour buses

This free day use parking lot is served by stop #7 on the free shuttle bus system.

It has the same rules as all other parking about not parking off the pavement:

sign that says park in stalls only

You will find a few bear-proof-if-you-use-them-properly food lockers and a warning about bear damage being common at the Yosemite Falls day use parking lot:

a sign that says: warning bear damage is common in this parking area

In 2017 the park started experimenting with reservable parking spaces at Yosemite Valley Lodge Day-Use parking (Yosemite Falls day use parking) . “Reservations must be made 1 Day(s) ahead of arrival and can be made up to 5 Month(s) in advance. New dates are released in blocks, 1 Month(s) at a time.” Reservation fee through Recreation.gov was $1.50, “A $10.00 service fee will apply if you change or cancel your reservation. Late cancellations are subject to additional fees.” But I have not found recent info about it.

 

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There are many places to park here and there along Yosemite valley roadways,
but the Yosemite Falls day use parking lot is much better as it has nearby restrooms, bear boxes (bear-proof-if-you-use-them-properly food lockers), many more parking spaces and is much closer to the trailhead for the Upper Yosemite Falls hike / backpack (it is across the street at Camp 4).

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The Yosemite Falls day use parking lot is on Northside Drive, just past the Yosemite Valley Lodge.

You can waste a lot of time if you take the first exit off Northside Drive to the Lodge instead of continuing on Northside Drive to the day use parking.

As you approach the Yosemite Valley Lodge on Northside drive,
after you pass the Yosemite Falls shuttle bus stop #6 on your right,
and after you drive over the Yosemite Creek Bridge,

before you see any Lodge buildings, there is a sign on the left pointing to the Lodge and a driveway from the left hand lane to the left into west end of the property parking lots.

cars in a row of road

Because this Lodge entrance road / driveway goes into a one way, one lane parking lot road,
the traffic gets backed up in the parking lot and can can get backed up on to Northside Drive.
(Occasionally the traffic in the lot gets really backed-up when someone coming in sees what looks like someone in a parking space getting ready to leave, then stops and puts on their flashers – waiting for the vehicle in the parking space to make room for them.)

You should anticipate people suddenly trying to change from the Northside Drive right hand lane to the left hand lane, and even cutting quite close to other vehicles.

The letter D on the upper right of the map below shows where the photo above was taken.
simple map

The letters BP near the center of the map above
show where this photo of the now blocked off road between the parking lots was taken from:

road blocked off with waterfall beyond

Instead of using this first entrance / driveway off Northside Drive, for a usually faster route,
stay in the right hand lane until you are past this backup,
then merge over into the left hand lane and go past most of the Lodge buildings.
Look for an entrance on the left beyond the hotel buildings seen from the road and then turn left into the complex,
then bear right to get to the day use parking lot
or go a little further along Northside drive and turn left into the Yosemite Falls day use parking lot at the near end of it, or the far end.

stones forming a wall

Drivers should note that there are sections of road in Yosemite Valley with two lanes (usually) in the same direction, with the right lane ONLY for the free shuttle buses, ambulances, ski bus, commercial vehicles with ten or more passengers. The NPS says: “The bus lane ensures emergency vehicles can respond to incidents when traffic is backed up and provides preference for mass transit.”

Parking and traffic jams in Yosemite valley tips and tricks has the above advice, with maps of each of the three major day-use parking lots, with advice to help you NOT get a Yosemite National Park traffic or parking ticket, and not contribute to preventable traffic backups. And some details of where you can’t park in Yosemite, or can’t park without a permit, for example, Camp 4 (Camp Four), across Northside Drive from the Yosemite Falls day use parking lot.

sign that says camp 4 parking permit required 24 hours

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Descriptions of each Yosemite valley free shuttle bus stop
and ways to use the shuttle bus effectively, and save time,
find activities/trailheads/restaurants/showers

are at: Yosemite valley free shuttle bus.

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Cell phone service is NOT available in all parts of Yosemite.
It is usually okay in the vicinity of the Exploration Center.
Many years we got 4 bars for Verizon and 3 bars for AT&T near the Exploration Center, versus 2 bars for each at the Ahwahnee and 2 bars Verizon, 1 bar AT&T in Upper Pines campground, at the Yosemite Valley Lodge, Curry Village and some other locations in East Yosemite Valley.

The park service said: “Cell phone coverage in Yosemite is spotty . . . Cell service is often impacted during daily peak visitation by the large number of people trying to access limited service; if you have four bars of service, but you can’t get a signal, this is why . . . cell coverage depends on your phone, the cloud cover and other seemingly mysterious factors and is not always reliable. ”

carved wood ceiling beam

You have a number of lodging choices of where to stay overnight in Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, including campsites or

wood-walled cabin without a bath; heated or unheated wood floored, canvas sided and roofed tent cabin; wood walled cabin with a bath

luxury or generic hotel rooms, suites with a bath

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Ahwahnee hotel map webpage has summer and winter photos of rooms, balconies, parlors, (and the views from some of them), including the Presidential Suite with the huge balcony at the (south) far end of the Ahwahnee from the parking lot, the large third floor parlor with fireplace, two main building ADA Suites, featured room 417 with it’s own, small, private balcony, 5th floor rooms that share a balcony, the El Dorado Diggins Suite Jacuzzi tub, the 24 cottages / (bungalows / cabins), including the classic cottages that have an alcove between the bedroom and the bathroom with a bed you can fit a child on, and a door between the bedroom and alcove for privacy, sixth floor Mary Curry Tressider Suite, Library Suite, Underwood room, Sunroom Suite (Sun Porch), Mather, Spencer.

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You can find basic to extravagant, (a few with a dress code),
casual, fast (grab and go)
or with table-side service,
indoor and outdoor food service

at multiple locations in Yosemite Valley, as well as four grocery stores

all of which are served by the Yosemite valley free shuttle bus.

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Where were they when they got that great photo in Yosemite?

Where can I take a photo that looks like the one on a Yosemite postcard I just bought?
Places to take photos of Half Dome, Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls and Staircase Falls.

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Bears do break in to vehicles in Yosemite National Park (potentially year-round) and food storage rules apply all over the park, as in this sign at a day-use parking lot:

A sign that says: Proper food storage required. Bears frequent this area. Vehicles in violation may be impounded and the owner may be cited. All food must be stored properly including ice chests, containers, toiletries, and trash. DURING THE DAY. Store food in a food locker if possible. Close vehicle windows if food is in your vehicle. DO NOT leave food visible in your vehicle. DO NOT store food in open bed of a pickup truck. AFTER DARK. All food must be stored in a food locker. DO NOT store food in your vehicle. NO CAMPING OR SLEEPING IN VEHICLES

You might find a dumpster in the parking lot.
dumpster with sign that it is full

In the photo above, the note on it says:
“Dumpster Full
This dumpster is full and has been wired shut to prevent black bears from accessing the overflow trash. Please do your part in protecting Yosemite wildlife by finding another dumpster to dispose of your trash. Thank you.”

PLEASE, when a dumpster is full don’t just leave your trash sitting next to it, find another dumpster.

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The National Park Service warns:

“Each year, Yosemite National Park welcomes over four million visitors. If you are planning to visit Yosemite, plan ahead and arrive early. In summer, expect extended traffic delays and extremely limited parking. Expect delays of an hour or more at entrance stations and two to three hours in Yosemite Valley . . . If you are planning to visit Yosemite valley by car for the day, arrive before 9 am, after which parking is usually full.

Large day-use parking lots are available at Yosemite Village, Curry Village (briefly named Half Dome Village), and near Yosemite Falls. If you find a parking space, plan to leave your car there; you will not be able to find another parking spot. Use the free shuttle to get around Yosemite Valley.

If you have lodging or campground reservations, park your car at your lodge or campground and use the shuttles to get around.

Once all parking in Yosemite Valley is full, you may be redirected to other areas (which will also have limited parking).”

Here is a map of the three main Yosemite Valley day use parking lots,
each with a black box with the letter P in white in it.

simple map

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You might also want to read How to not collide with a deer,
Safe driving in rain and fog,
Prepare for winter driving,
and/or wildlife jams

Road trip advice and etiquette has ideas for limiting boredom, getting along on a road trip and some packing and safety tips.

rocks packed together

swimming in Yosemite including thunderstorms, bacteria in the water, safety issues, favorite beaches, swimming pools open to the public with lifeguards, places you should not swim.

section of huge log with no parking anytime sign on it
If you arrive too late to easily find parking, will you be thinking about
Inventing a parking space?
sign that says do not drive or park off pavement

These two photos were taken in December, when there were plenty of parking spaces in all the free day use parking lots. There were quite a few adults in this SUV that parked at the end of the row of cars above, on the bike path, fully blocking the bike path:

SUV parked on Yosemite bike path

Does this driver park on sidewalks at home? Did the adult passengers really not notice the height of the curb, to be able to tell the driver that they were perhaps not parked where they should be?

SUV moving off bike path, one tire down on roadway

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When a helicopter needs to land in the Ahwahnee meadow across the road from Church Bowl, to pick up someone who needs to go to a bigger hospital, (or when a helicopter needs to land for Search and Rescue training) people are asked to stay on the restroom/picnic area side of the road, and traffic going through is briefly stopped.

Because you won’t know a helicopter is coming and won’t be able to move your vehicle fast enough, the entire meadow side of the road at Church Bowl is closed to any parking at all times, (even to get out and quickly take a picture or use the restroom).

In this photo you can see a few parking spaces in a row alongside the restroom/picnic area side of the road and the stripes for no parking with big letters on the pavement that say NO PARKING, on the other side of the road:

When the stripes did not function to keep people from parking there, the park started setting out a row of red pylons and tall no parking signs, which people still ignore, as in the car at the top of this photo that drove between the pylons to park:

no parking sign and car parked just beyond it

And on the far end of the Church Bowl restroom/picnic area side of the road, a car parked off the side of the road, not in a parking space, (off road behind a large rock meant to deter anyone from parking there) with a parking ticket with a minimum $130 fine (ticket under the windshield wiper) in this photo:

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Putting on your emergency flashers when you pull into a free shuttle bus stop driveway does not turn it into a parking space for you, and when the shuttle bus arrives you will be honked at to move, as the red car below was:

red car driving away as shuttle bus pulls in behind it

Did they not see the two signs at the side of the shuttle stop driveway/shuttle parking space?

sign that says no parking this side of streetsign that says no parking loading zone

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A red painted curb is a no parking zone anywhere in the U.S., (including Georgia, where this mini-van was from), and in national parks, in part because some red curbs mark the space an ambulance or fire truck would need to get by. Yes, no parking is allowed even if one family member stays in the vehicle while the other rushes in to shop:

long red painted curb and vehicle with open door

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Each space in a parking lot is usually paved, has painted stripes and has a concrete beam your tires would hit to keep you from going too far (see the car on the right). In this photo, the driver of the SUV on the left decided to move into the dirt/plants to the side of a parking space at the end of a row, with tires slightly into the legal space already occupied by someone else. Ooops, tires partially in that space does not make it legal.

car in a dirt space

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Did this driver from Arizona move the no parking a-frame sign over, or was it already moved over and he choose to ignore the sign, red cone, “No Parking” in large letters on the pavement and two giant trash dumpsters?

two trash bins, no parking sign, car and red cone

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And, yes the following signs are sometimes also ignored, “it’s just for a minute so it’s okay, right?”

sign that says emergency vehicle security parking

sign that says no parking, fire lane

row of rocks carved into brick shapes

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Some park visitors have found themselves
spending a lot of time tracking down where their vehicle was towed to,
or where their ice chest / cooler was taken
when a Ranger confiscated it from their open pickup truck bed.

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Top reasons to not speed in a National Park.