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Is Yosemite National Park Traveling While Fat Friendly?

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

In September 2021, my whole family (Fat Papa, Itsy Bitsy, Jackalope, Aunty Coco, E-man, Uncle Andy, Gigi, Pappy, and of course this Fat Mama) all went to Yosemite National Park for a fun multi-generational vacation in the great outdoors. And WOW. It didn’t disappoint!

The whole family in front of the Grizzly Giant in Mariposa Grove, Yosemite (September, 2021)

Growing up, Gigi and Pappy took Jackalope and me to State and National Parks regularly. I have incredibly fond memories of family vacations exploring Yosemite, and one summer we did an epic road trip where we visited Bryce, Zion, Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone National Parks. We also did a ton of camping every summer at some of our favorite State Parks and beaches in Southern California.

Fat Mama, Pappy, and Jackalope hiking Zion National Park (June 2001)

Despite how much I LOVE our State and National Parks, and clearly had a childhood full of outdoor adventures, Fat Papa and I have had a hard time getting outside with Itsy Bitsy. It’s really only been because of COVID that we started to do more outdoorsy and nature embracing vacations or outings. But our trip to Yosemite with my whole family has definitely inspired me to WANT to get Itsy Bitsy and myself outside more.

I regularly get in my own head about being fat. Yes, I have come to embrace my fatness. When I set my mind to do something, I do not let being fat get in the way of doing whatever it is I have decided to do. BUT … and it’s a big butt … the very first hurdle I have to get my Fat Mama butt (and brain) over is the age-old question “is this something for fat people?”

Now, through years of asking myself that very question, testing the theory, and documenting the outcome, I KNOW the answer is a resounding YES 99% of the time. But that doesn’t shut up that little voice in my head that says, “You’re fat, people don’t want to see you doing this and don’t want to deal with your bulk!”

I think like most of us, I have a little mean voice inside my head. I also have very loud nice voices that overrule the mean voice … most times. And yes, I am working with my therapist on silencing that little mean voice once and for all, but I’m just not there yet.

Fat Mama in Yosemite, trying not to worry about being too fat (Sep. 2021)

So when thinking about getting out and doing a vacation that actually requires DOING rather than relaxing, I sometimes let the mean voice in my head overrule me. But I am here today to tell you that NO ONE should let that mean voice overrule them and stop them from a vacation to Yosemite or any of the other amazing State and National Parks our country has to offer.

Fat Papa and I almost didn’t join my family in Yosemite. We had a whole different vacation planned. In fact, we only went to Yosemite because we canceled our Hawaiian vacation due to the Governor of Hawaii’s request that tourists stay away (you can read about that in my blog How Do You Decide When To Cancel A Trip?). But now, I am so glad we did get to go with everyone.

On our trip to Yosemite, I learned a TON about Traveling While Fat (TWF) in a National Park. Most importantly, that it is fun and easy. But going into the vacation, I had some major trepidation including:

  • Was I going to feel comfortable?

  • How much of the park could I really enjoy as a fat person?

  • Is there enough to do in Yosemite if I am not wanting to hike?

I felt like if the answer to any of these questions was going to be "no," then why was I even going on this vacation? After all, it had been nearly 10 years since I had been to Yosemite as an adult and before that I had been a kid. This was going to be my first time TWF to Yosemite.

But of course, those doubts were the mean voice in my head talking. I was VERY pleasantly surprised to find that not only was the answer to all my questions "YES," but that the accessibility of Yosemite was far greater than I had expected.

TWF in Yosemite and Feeling Comfortable

Obviously, everyone has a different comfort tolerance level, and mine is fairly extreme. I will put up with a lot if it means I am getting a good experience in the end. But I never once felt awkward or out of place in Yosemite. And as someone who has had to use a mobility scooter in the past due to my own issues with walking long distances, I was very impressed with how many paved walkways and trails Yosemite offers.

According to there are 4 different hikes that they classify as “wheelchair accessible” including:

  • Lower Yosemite Falls Trail

  • Glacier Point Trail

  • Sentinel Meadow Cook's Meadow Loop Trail

  • Mirror Lake Paved Trail

Additionally, is another great resource for info about hiking trails in the Park. While I didn’t have the opportunity to take all of these hikes, the ones we did go on were fabulous!

Dr. Fabby Note: Our National Parks are for everyone! For those with mobility or other accessibility issues who are embarking on an adventure to a National Park, check the Park's website while planning your trip. Every National Park official website is set up the same way with the same menu: under "Plan Your Visit," there is a drop-down menu that includes a section on accessibility, which has general information for those using wheelchairs or mobility scooters, as well as location-specific information.

While the National Park Service has made concerted efforts to meet these challenges, and newer construction is reliably accessible, many parks have some visitor centers, restrooms, water fountains, and entrances which are not compliant with ADA standards (which was passed in 1990).