Things to do in Yosemite. The best of the best.

Have you ever wondered what are the best things to do in Yosemite? For me, Yosemite was one of those places that you wait for a lifetime. The fact that not only has not disappointed us but has fascinated us, was reason enough to consider it “the best National Park in California“. Even if California has wonderful places like the ones in this section: Things to do in California.

Maybe for you, it is not the best. But I want to talk to you about Yosemite from my experience. And I want to show you what for us were the best places, the best walk, the best view. In short, the best of everything to do. The best things to do in Yosemite.

Some things will be to do as a family. Others to take turns. But above all, I’m going to give you a series of photographs of Yosemite that without a doubt will make you want to visit.

Shall we start?

Yosemite, a world inside a world

things to do in Yosemite

Before we start, I want to tell you that Yosemite was declared a National Park in 1890. It became the second National Park in the United States, after Yellowstone, and before the National Park of the Sequoias.

It covers an area of 1168 sq miles and extends through the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Its height fluctuates between 600 and 4000 meters. These magnitudes will make you understand that a day or two to discover this place is absurd. But sometimes what we lack is time, so if you have two days do not worry cause you’ll be able to enjoy it anyway. That was the time that we took.

 

Things to do in Yosemite: The best spot for a one-day trip

 

THE VALLEY

things to do in Yosemite

When I tell you that the Yosemite Valley only represents 1% of the size of the Park, you are going to tell me that I am crazy if I dedicate a whole day to it. But if you come to Yosemite and do not stop to enjoy its valley, then you shouldn’t have come at all. The first answer to “things to do in Yosemite” has to be “The Valley”.

The Valley is that place that you imagine in your mind when you think of Yosemite. Tall granite walls, green slopes dotted by high waterfalls, and the beautiful Merced River. Being at an altitude of 1200 meters is one of the few areas of the Park that is accessible throughout the year regardless of the weather.

These are the obligatory stops in the Yosemite Valley, a circular route that can be done by car. Although we recommend the free bus service in order not go crazy about finding a place in the parking lots.

1.HALF DOME:

things to do in Yosemite

An almost vertical wall of granite of 4737 feet. It is one of the great symbols of the Park and one of the biggest hiking challenges that Yosemite presents. For the less brave like me, you can enjoy its imposing shape form far away. For the more intrepid, and after an 8-mile hike known as Mist Trail (we’ll get there), you can reach its peak.

How?

After that hike, you reach the segment of the walk that just from watching a video gave me the chills and I decided not to do it. 393 feet of almost vertical ascent holding your life with two steel cables shackled to the rock. When they told me the phrase “if you let go, you die”, I preferred to see the Half Dome from one of the many views that the Park offers.

Do you want to watch a video? Watch it here below and tell me in a comment if you would dare to go up:

 

2.EL CAPITÁN:

things to do in Yosemite

A 2952 feet high granite monolith north of the Valley. It is one of the most desired places for climbers since its vertical wall presents several climbing “paths”. For those who do not know how to climb, you can access its top from the trail that is next to the Yosemite Falls.

We did not climb to the top but we enjoyed a beautiful view of El Capitan from El Capitan Meadows, sitting on the grass and surrounded by large granite walls. Meanwhile, and as the day was coming to an end, several deer came to us.

3.LOWER YOSEMITE FALLS:

things to do in Yosemite

The Yosemite Falls are the highest in the park. They have a total fall of 2424 feet, of which 1443 belong to the upper ones, and 675 to the middle ones. The final 321 feet corresponding to the lower part are those that can be visited from the Valley through an accessible walk even for wheelchairs. It is a short 1 mile round trip through a paved road.

The highlight of this hike is that it is almost entirely facing the waterfall. You can see the upper and lower fall as we get closer. In spring and summer, the sound is deafening. And most likely, you will certainly get splashed.

4. BRIDALVEIL FALL:

things to do in Yosemite

With a drop of 616 feet and easy access from the parking lot, the most striking feature of this waterfall is that it has flow all year long. In addition, when the wind blows strong, the water does not touch the floor and flies through the air. That’s why the Native Americans knew it as “Pohono”, or spirit of the puffing wind.

 

Things to do in Yosemite: The best views

If there is something that amazed us about this Park are its breathtaking views. It is difficult to choose one within the concept of “things to do in Yosemite”, so I am going to give you our 5 favorite ones to find in your visit.

1.GLACIER POINT:

things to do in Yosemite

The mother of all views. But I’m not talking about Yosemite. I am talking about perhaps the most impressive sight we saw in our lives. Globally. So when it comes to choosing things to do in Yosemite this sit cannot be missed.

From there you can see absolutely the entire Valley. The Half Dome is the great protagonist. You can also see the Vernal and Nevada waterfalls, and several points of interest.

If the crowds do not affect you, it is a wonderful place to enjoy an unforgettable sunset. Although in high season it is difficult to find a parking lot and you have to wait a lot. But a visit there is practically mandatory.

2. WASHBURN POINT:

things to do in Yosemite

Just a few meters before Glacier Point, this place is just as spectacular as the first. Glacier Point has the advantage of offering a wider viewing angle. But Washburn Point offers better views of the Nevada and Vernal waterfalls. And besides, a lot fewer people and the parking lot just in front.

3. TUNNEL VIEW:

things to do in Yosemite

One of the most popular views of the Park and the one that in most cases will welcome visitors. This view was made famous by one of the most influential photographers of all time: Ansel Adams.

As we leave a tunnel, a spectacular image opens up before us with the Capitan and the Bridalveil waterfalls as protagonists, and the Half Dome in the background.

4. JOHN MUIR TRAIL FROM NEVADA FALLS:

things to do in Yosemite

I will then expand on this spectacular trail. But for now, I’m going to concentrate on this beautiful image that you get a few meters after starting the descent from the Nevada waterfalls. Looking to the right we are presented with these waterfalls and the Liberty Cap, which by its shape made me think of the Kirkjufell in Iceland.

5. SENTINEL BRIDGE:

things to do in Yosemite

Nothing more beautiful for a photographer than an outstanding reflection in the water. And that’s what this place gives us: the Half Dome reflected in the waters of the Merced River.

Things to do in Yosemite: The best hike

If there is something that characterizes the Park is its immense offer of walks. Choosing the best one is complex, but I think it’s not impossible. At least not from my point of view. And if we add that the best is the union of two walks, then we could be facing one of the best walks to do in the United States.

MIST TRAIL + JOHN MUIR TRAIL:

things to do in Yosemite

It was on the internet that, searching for “Things to do in Yosemite” and “The best hikes to do in Yosemite”, I discovered the possibility of doing this path. As I read that it was a quite demanding walk, I left very early while my wife and son slept since it was not suitable to do it with a small child, much less with a pregnant woman.

The Mist Trail is perhaps the most iconic of the park as it takes you to two of the most beautiful waterfalls: Vernal and Nevada. But as the demand for the walk is increasing as it progresses, the volume of people gets smaller.

There is something that differentiates this from the other hikes and what makes it unique and wonderful. The trails in Yosemite usually focus on one main attraction. That that goes to the Lower Falls. The one that goes to the Half Dome. Or the trail that takes us to Glacier Point. But this hike gives us views at every step we take. The waterfalls to which it arrives are only the motivation that makes us continue with the effort.

It is difficult to describe the sensations of such a wonderful hike that makes us forget about the passage of time. Talking about mountains, waterfalls, giant rocks, stone stairs, dream views, it would be a shame. So I might as well leave you with some photos of some of the things that you can find there. I am sure that after seeing them, the question “things to do in Yosemite” will be answered on its own.

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Hike info

Distances: from the beginning of the trek in Happy Isles it is a 3 miles round trip if you only go to the Vernal waterfalls. 6.8 miles round trip if you want to go to the Nevada Falls. If instead of starting at Happy Isles you decide not to take the bus after leaving the car at Curry Village, you have to add a total of 1.5 miles more.

Heights: the elevation at the beginning is 4000 feet. There’s a 983 feet height gain up to Vernal Falls. There is a 1900 feet height gain to the top of Nevada Falls.

Walking time: between 2 and 5 hours depending on the distance you cover. Logically speaking of times on a hike is very subjective as it depends on your state, your speed, and the stops you make along the way. But at least you can have an idea that it is a walk that requires a good amount of tim but can be definitely be done in a morning.

Difficulty: Medium to High. Reaching the base of the Vernal waterfalls requires some resistance to abrupt changes in height. It’s a pretty steep climb. Reaching the top of the waterfall requires resistance to climbing many steps (and desire to get completely wet). Going up to the Nevada Falls is a very tiring job but its reward is sublime.

How to get there and where to park: Follow directions to Curry Village, east of the Valley. The best idea is to leave the car there and take the free shuttle service since the parking lot next to the beginning of the walk is usually full.

Things to do in Yosemite: Conclusion

I tried to make an article as faithful as possible to our experience, and that is why I left out things that we did not see and that are fundamental in a visit to Yosemite. Such is the case of Mariposa Grove and its forest of giant sequoias. Unfortunately, during our visit, it was closed to the public. But as was the case with Mariposa Grove, there are many places to discover.

What are the best things to do in Yosemite is a very difficult question to answer because everyone has their tastes and preferences. There are those who prefer to enjoy a long walk, and there are those who prefer the trip by car for the photo stops. Everything is valid.

I hope at least you leave with a brief idea of what are the best things to do in Yosemite and then you can decide on your own to put together the itinerary.

As for lodging, our experience at The Pines Resort was wonderful, so I highly recommend it. I leave the link to the article so you can see a little more about the place: The Pines Resort at Bass Lake.

The entrance to the park costs about $ 35 per car, and even if you go alone, it’s worth every penny. It is also valid for 7 consecutive days, so for that amount you can go in and out as many times as you want in the park for a whole week. If you go on foot instead of with a vehicle, the entrance fee is 20 dollars per person.

We recommend that if you are going to visit three national parks or more, buy the annual America the Beautiful pass, which for 80 dollars gives you unlimited access to all the National Parks of the USA.

See you next time! And do not forget: if you liked it, leave us your comment. Believe it or not, we really like to receive your opinions and inquiries.

 


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Written by Pie & Pata
Happy is he/she who enjoys family travel.