Yosemite in April


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Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 6, 2013 - 10:49pm PT
I've spent a lot of time in Yosemite, but never in the spring. I'm considering a trip starting around the 1st or 2nd week in April. From what I have read it looks to be hit or miss as far as weather. Are temps generally conducive to an enjoyable time, or do I need to be really really stoked to enjoy it? What about the wetness factor on longer routes? Not looking to do any walls, but also not looking to climb only at the Cookie.

How much does Camp 4 suck being in the shade in April? Trying to gather a bit more info before I jump for the plane ticket. There are a lot of other good places that will be warmer and have more reliable weather such as J Tree or Cochise...but they aren't the valley! I know nothing is guaranteed, but a best-guess would help a lot in the decision.
The Warbler

the edge of America
Mar 6, 2013 - 11:01pm PT
Yosemite might be wet off and on in April, but it's not that cold - rarely snows on the Valley floor that time of year. The lower Merced Canyon, Reeds, Pat and Jack, The Cookie, Arch Rock dry fast and get sun almost all day. Arch Rock is about 1000 ft in elevation lower than the Valley floor, and is nice and warm in April. As for Camp 4, it was called Sunnyside Campground for awhile because it gets more sun than any other Valley campground. Except for the walls of El Cap.

If you're from New York it'll feel like the tropics compared to your winters.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 7, 2013 - 07:20pm PT
Thanks for the thoughts. What about Middle Cathedral, the spires, etc? Will the routes most likely have significant seepage? How's the snowpack looking currently?

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 7, 2013 - 08:50pm PT
April can be fantastic but the weather is more variable than opin the Fall. Lot's of climbs don't have seepage problems.....go for it! Not a huge snowpack.

Trad climber
Ridgway, CO
Mar 7, 2013 - 09:14pm PT
The routes on the north facing side of the valley, Cathedrals and Spires included are probably not at their best conditions in April, especially the first two weeks. There can be drainage issues on the sunny routes as well. Nice time of year though and fewer people.

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Mar 7, 2013 - 09:19pm PT
Apologize in advance for a slight thread drift -

My partner and I want to do Skull Queen, but I'd like to be fairly comfortable. How do things usually fare in early to mid May? I don't know when it starts getting too warm there, here in Vegas we are usually broiling by then.
John M

Mar 7, 2013 - 09:36pm PT
End of June, Beginning of July is when it gets hot and you want to start climbing in the high country. May can be glorious. Its the mountains. Not the desert. It can be hot, but most of the time it is glorious in May. Mid 70s to occasional low 80s.

May averages..


It can snow in the valley in May. Though that is rare.


As for the OP.. I don't know where you plan on flying in to, but if you fly to Fresno and rent a car, its only 300 miles to Josh from Fresno. So if the weather turns out to be bunk in Yosemite, then its only a 5 to 6 hour drive. Its two hours drive to Josh from Burbank. So you really only lose 4 hours and some gas money. That is if you plan to rent an auto. Just a thought. April is a very mixed month. Can be glorious spring warm. Can snow. No one can really tell until it happens. Here is a link to watch the snow pack, though you probably want to buy your tickets soon if you plan to be here in early April. Most of the time April is fairly warm, for the mountains. Not compared to the desert.. haha..

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Mar 7, 2013 - 09:55pm PT
for the climbs I have done in Yosemite Valley, the fraction by month:

6% Jan
10% Feb
15% Mar
15% Apr
14% May
9% Jun
3% Jul
2% Aug
6% Sep
9% Oct
8% Nov
3% Dec

Most are spring time....
have fun!

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 7, 2013 - 09:57pm PT
John, Thanks. That's the general idea...book tickets soon, then change the plan if necessary as the weather dictates. Josh isn't that far, and Tollhouse could suffice for a day or two (although I wonder if the elevation would make the access roads a problem??) Red Rocks isn't out of reach, especially if flying into LA and then deciding from there. I haven't checked into Fresno airfare yet, but that will be a consideration. Thanks for the insight!
Greg Barnes

Mar 7, 2013 - 11:08pm PT
Just FYI - Arch Rock is closed all spring (peregrines).


Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Mar 7, 2013 - 11:35pm PT
Discounting that Tuolumne is inaccessible usually, April has to be my favorite month in the park. Depending on the winter, valley meadows are usually green, waterfalls are gushing, and flowers and foliage are in full swing. Temps on south facing walls are warm when the sun shines; Venus shows herself in the west at nightfall. I especially like hints or spells of winter that mix in to make things interesting. Lower down can be incredible. You can't really go wrong with April, even in exceptional years.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Mar 7, 2013 - 11:48pm PT
So far this season has not been a wet one. Snowpack is lower than normal at least at this point, speaking in early March here. April is wonderful normally and can even be almost optimal though May is usually the best of all the early season months since weather is more predictable and some of the runoff has dissipated. Some routes will still be "draining" a bit in April but usually not enough to be a catastrophe for you. We used to consider mid-March the beginning of training back in the day, and try to start camping then. We would have bad weather come in for a day or two but could always resume right away on sunnier exposures.
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