Dreaming of a trip to Yosemite? Check out this Yosemite National Park Travel Guide for everything you need to know before you go!
Dreaming of a visit to Yosemite National Park? That’s not hard to imagine! From one of the tallest waterfalls in the world to ginormous granite cliff faces, and ancient sequoia groves to lush valleys, Yosemite is nothing short of paradise on earth.
Between all the grandeur, it can be a bit tricky trying to narrow down how to spend your time in this California! That’s not to worry; this Yosemite National Park Travel Guide has all the information you need. This includes what to see, where to stay, what to bring, how to save money, nearby destinations, and more!
So whether you’re looking for scenic mountain drives, backcountry hiking, sweeping valley views, lovely forested campgrounds, or epic waterfall day hikes, there really is something for everyone!
Here’s everything you need to know before you go…
Yosemite National Park Travel Guide
Yosemite National Park Travel Guide – Things to Do:
#1: Watch Sunset at Tunnel View
When you thing of Yosemite Valley, you probably picture this viewpoint.
Made popular by Ansel Adams’ photos, Tunnel View is an iconic viewpoint over Yosemite Valley. From there you can see Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, and Half Dome!
#2: Stand at the Base of the Thundering Bridalveil Falls
One of Yosemite Valley’s most prominent waterfalls, Bridalveil Falls is one of those places you just can’t miss on your visit. A short 0.4 mile loop to the base of the falls makes it the most easy, accessible waterfall in Yosemite. In the springtime, this 600-foot tall waterfall reaches peak flow.
#3: Enjoy Breathtaking Views at El Capitan Meadow
If epic valley views are calling your name, you’ll need to stop by El Capitan Meadow! Take in the breathtaking views of the tallest granite face in the world from the pleasant grassy clearing. Overall, this would be such a lovely spot to enjoy your lunch!
#4: Stand at the base of one of the tallest waterfalls in the World
Lower Yosemite Falls Trail
A short 1 mile loop will take you to the base of North America’s tallest waterfall. In the springtime, the falls are at their peak, so you can expect to feel the spray!
#5: Hike alongside one of the Tallest waterfalls in the world
Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
Only consider this trail if you’re an experienced hiker, and in great shape! It’s 7 miles roundtrip, and climbs 3,000 feet. It’s not for the faint of heart!
You’ll start at the base of Yosemite Valley, and climb up, being rewarded with views of the Upper Falls and Yosemite Valley along the way. Once you reach the top, you’ll cross a bridge over Yosemite Creek. It’s hard to believe that such a small stream can create such a mighty waterfall. A little while later, you’ll make it to Yosemite Point, and be greeted with breathtaking views!
#6: Enjoy lush forests and thundering waterfalls Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls
The mist trail is 3 miles roundtrip to Vernal Falls, and 7 miles roundtrip to Nevada Falls. Along the way, you’ll walk up the Merced River and pass these two waterfalls, some of the finest in Yosemite.
#7: Eat an ice cream cone at one of California’s greatest viewpoints
There’s probably no better place to view Half Dome, Vernal Falls, and Nevada Falls all together, than from Glacier Point. It takes a little while to drive up here, but it’s totally worth it!
#8: Four Mile Trail
The Four Mile Trail is an intense hike that drops straight from Glacier Point down into Yosemite Valley, with an elevation change of 3,200 feet! Most people choose to start at Glacier Point, so they can hike downwards.
#9: Washburn Point
Washburn Point is a lovely overlook near Glacier Point, with views of Half Dome and Nevada Falls. If you have a few minutes to spare, it’s a nice place to stop and take in the view.
#10: Taft Point / The Fissures
This fairly easy, 2.2 mile roundtrip trail takes you to one of Yosemite’s grandest points: The Fissures! It’s a bit eery staring down gaps that go hundreds of feet deep. Right next to The Fissures is Taft Point, which offers some of the most outstanding views over Yosemite Valley. There’s no railing, so watch your footing at the edge!
#11: Sentinel Dome
This 2.1 mile, out and back trail starts at the same spot as The Fissures trail. On this trail you’ll climb 450 feet up a granite dome, and at the top, you’ll then be rewarded with sweeping 360-degree views over Yosemite Valley and Half Dome.
Yosemite National Park Travel Guide – Nearby Destinations:
#12 & #13: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Located in the lower Sierra Nevada mountains, these two back-to-back parks are home to the world’s largest trees: the sequoia. (hence the name!) There are two groves of these trees, the Grant Grove in King’s Canyon and the Giant Forest in Sequoia. You may want to also drive down Kings Canyon – it’s the deepest canyon in the US, and less visited than Yosemite.
For more information on Sequoia and Kings Canyon, check out these Sequoia National Park Travel Tips.
#14: San Francisco
There is so much more to experience in San Francisco, from riding the trolley cars up and down the steep hills, visiting historic sites like Fort Point and Alcatraz Island, smelling fresh baked sourdough bread, and eating a totally gluttonous dessert at Ghirardelli Square. San Francisco is truly is an amazing city, like non other!
Go check out this San Francisco Travel Guide for more details on the city.
Yosemite National Park Travel Guide – Budget Tips, Nearby Destinations, and More
Visiting Yosemite is all around an amazing experience, but getting there should be have the fun! Nothing beats a good old fashioned road trip, especially when a beautiful place like Yosemite is involved.
If you don’t live nearby, fly into the close airline hubs of San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, or Reno. Earn some Free Southwest Airlines Gift Cards and Free Delta Gift Cards to save money on airfare. From those cities, you’re only a few hour’s drive to Yosemite!
When it comes to park entrance, you should consider purchasing the America the Beautiful Pass. “Why?”, you might wonder:
The Yosemite entrance fee is $x. The America the Beautiful Pass is $x.
Hypothetically, if you were planning a road trip through California and wanted to visit Yosemite ($x), King’s Canyon/Sequoia ($x), and Joshua Tree ($x), you would spend ($x).
Now, the America the Beautiful Pass is good for one year. With it, you can visit sites administered by the National Park Service as well as x.
Overall, it could save you a lot of money, depending on what your plans for the year are!
Learn more about the America the Beautiful Pass here.
An example of a place you could visit with the America the beautiful pass:
When to Visit Yosemite:
So, when exactly should you visit Yosemite? Each season has something unique and beautiful to offer.
Spring: You’ll see the waterfalls in full force!
Summer: You’ll get the best weather for hiking and being outside. On the other hand, you’ll have to deal with the crowds.
Fall: You’ll get to see magnificent Fall colors, but the waterfalls will be low. Be sure to enjoy the crisp, cool temperatures!
Winter: Winter will be very cold, but you’ll get to see Yosemite Valley blanketed in sow!
Now that you’ve seen this Yosemite National Park Travel Guide, don’t miss out any longer! Follow along with Never Ending Journeys for more fun Travel Tips and Inspiration!
Have YOU ever been to Yosemite National Park?
So, what is your favorite part of this Yosemite National Park Travel Guide, and what are your favorite things to do there?
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