This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but Yosemite National Park gets crowded: really crowded. The roads through the valley can be bumper-to-bumper through the summer season, campsite reservations often get taken minutes after they go online, and there’s a lottery system to get permission to hike the park’s famous Half Dome.
Fortunately, there are tons of protected wilderness areas and parks near Yosemite that are just as cool and have a fraction of the crowds. The seven parks below are great options if you’re doing a northern California road trip and looking for other places to stop, or if you’re staying outside of Yosemite and looking for somewhere else to go when the national park is too crowded. Most of the parks near Yosemite below also have camping, so you could pitch your tent at one of these parks and do a day trip to Yosemite if you can’t find a campsite within the national park. You’ve got lots of options.