Leave the Car, Borrow a Bike: How to Use the Yosemite National Park Bike Share Program

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The seasonal Yosemite Bike Share Program allows visitors to ride around Yosemite Valley for up to 2 hours, and for free! Just download the app, sign up, and unlock the bike and helmet to start riding.

There is so much to see in Yosemite Valley that it can be hard to figure out where to go and what to see with limited time. Maybe you just finished a backpacking or climbing trip, or a day lounging in the river, and you want a different kind of day in the park.

I recommend using the bike share program to get around the valley — free of charge. I also recommend biking to Mirror Lake or Lower Yosemite Falls.

The Yosemite Bike Share program started in 2018 with donations by Peet’s Coffee, the Pitzer Family Foundation, and Yosemite Nature Conservancy donors. Many Yosemite Nature Conservancy volunteers help with the day-to-day upkeep of the bike share program.

As of May 2022, 50 bikes are available between June and October; the specific opening and closing dates change each year.

The bike stations are in the Yosemite Village Parking Area and the Yosemite Village mall. All of the bikes have an adjustable seat and a basket. However, there are no bikes specifically designed for kids. That feedback has already been submitted, and I hope to see that added in the future.

I visited Yosemite National Park in mid-July 2021 with my boyfriend, and we had a great day riding the bikes and seeing the park in a new way.

The view of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point
The view of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point; (photo/Xiaoling Keller)

Yosemite National Park Bike Share Program

How to Use the Bike Share Program

  1. Download the free Yosemite Bike Share app, which is available for Apple/iOS and Android. (Pro tip: Cell service in the Valley can be spotty, so do this beforehand. I had Verizon, and it worked on the spot, but I know other services may take more time to download.)
  2. Sign up for the program with your email and phone number.
  3. Turn on your Bluetooth and location services.
  4. Unlock the bike by scanning the QR code, which unlocks the rear wheel.
Bike share opening day, July 2021
Bike share opening day in July 2021; (photo/Yosemite Conservancy, Ryan Kelly)

These bikes are made for short trips around Yosemite Valley with a time limit of 2 hours. To pause the ride, press Stop in the app and slide the Pause button to the right.

This action allows you to get off the bike and walk around, but it counts as part of the 2-hour time limit. When you’re finished riding, return the bike to the Used Bike Corral at the share station so it can be sanitized before the next user borrows it. There are about a dozen bike parking stations throughout the park.

Lock the bike by closing the lock on the back wheel and clicking Stop in the app. This action will end your ride, and someone else can borrow it next. Have a safe ride, and remember the helmet!

Where to Go With the Yosemite Bike Program

Mirror Lake

The view of Half Dome from the valley floor on the Mirror Lake Trail
The view of Half Dome from the valley floor on the Mirror Lake Trail; (photo/Xiaoling Keller)

Yosemite Valley has 12 miles of paved bike paths. My recommendation would be to ride about 2 miles (3.2 km) to the Mirror Lake Trailhead, park the bike, pause the ride, and walk up to the lake. To see the lake, it’s about a 2-mile (3.2 km) walk. You can walk the round trip with about 100 feet (30.5 m) of elevation change.

The lake is seasonal so depending on when you go, there could be plenty of water for a reflection or barely any. We saw a lot of kids playing in the water when we visited in July.

The trail is a paved road leading right to the lake. Walking around the lake is a 5-mile (8 km) hike, so you won’t have time to do the whole loop.

To keep the bikes circulating for everyone, there has to be a time limit — in this case, 2 hours — but I wish it was a bit longer so I could fully enjoy Mirror Lake. I felt pressed for time after riding up there, stopping along the way and taking photos. I’m happy to have had the opportunity to ride a bike up to an area I probably wouldn’t have seen had it not been for this program.

The reflection of Mt. Watkins in Mirror Lake
The reflection of Mt. Watkins in Mirror Lake; (photo/Xiaoling Keller)

After visiting Mirror Lake, we rode back toward Yosemite Falls and dropped our bikes off at the Camp 6 Parking Area. Then we visited the Village Store for some lunch before walking over to Yosemite Falls.

Lower Yosemite Falls

If biking 2 miles (3.2 km) to Mirror Lake and then walking another 2 miles (3.2 km) seems too much, Lower Yosemite Falls is a great option for those who want a more leisurely experience.

It’s a one-mile (1.6 km) bike ride from the Yosemite Village Parking area to the Lower Yosemite Falls Trailhead and then a one-mile (1.6 km) loop walk to view the Lower Falls.

Lower Yosemite Falls
Lower Yosemite Falls; (photo/Xiaoling Keller)

Park the bike, pause your ride, and walk the paved path to the vista point to feel the mist as the falls drop the final 320 feet (98 m)! This waterfall is seasonal, so the best time to see it is in spring and early summer when it’s at its fullest as the snow melts above. I visited in mid-July, which is considered late for the waterfall season, but I still thought the falls were beautiful.

Other places to visit along the bike path include Swinging Bridge, Sentinel Bridge, Sugar Pine Bridge, and Ahwahnee Bridge.

Right now there are only 50 bikes in the program, but depending on interest and use, more bikes could be added in the future. Yosemite Valley is large, so walking everywhere or driving and parking a car can take too long. So, the bike share program lets you get around easily and see the park in a new way!

Check the program’s website for the opening date of the Yosemite Bike Share Program’s June-October 2022 season.

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