I wasn’t too keen on the idea of spending a few days in a national park, but I am so glad I went. The views and scenery are amazing in Yosemite and it was a really enjoyable part of my trip.
What should you see in Yosemite?
Here is a Park Map that will help you plan where you want to visit in the National Park.
Here are some recommendations:
- Yosemite Falls/Columbia Rock: There are 3 options here. The Lower Falls, Upper Falls and Columbia Rock are on the same route. This route is not for the faint hearted as it is a steep trek but the views are spectacular. Going all the way to the Upper Falls will take around 6-8 hours round trip. Make sure to bring LOTS of water. The hike to the Lower Falls is around 3 hours up and back.
- The walk to Mirror Lake is a less strenuous walk and is practically flat the whole way. If you’re lucky, you will be able to see a reflection in the water. Unfortunately, we got there and Mirror Lake was dried out, (*boo*) but the lake just before it is a great place for a picnic and a swim. The water is so fresh and crystal clear. It’s so refreshing to jump in after a long day of hiking so make sure to bring a swimsuit and a towel!
- Glacier Point is one of the biggest attractions in Yosemite. On this day we drove in. The roads up are very winding and steep so be prepared. The drive up takes around 40 minutes. On the way here, you will pass Tunnel View where you can stop and take some amazing pictures and Wawona Point is another must if you have time to make a pitstop on the way.
- If you’re not driving, there are shuttle buses from Yosemite Ski Point to Glacier Point, or you can walk but it is a very long walk!
- Half Dome is one of the biggest attractions in Yosemite, but if you want to go up to Half Dome, tickets for this sell out early. We were too late, but, as you walk or drive around the park you get to see Half Dome from many different angles. You can see it from Tunnel View and Glacier Point. And, to be honest, the best thing about it is seeing it, which you can’t do when you’re up there so save yourself a hard hike and just take in the views! You can get tickets here or with companies like viator and tripadvisor.
- There are a number of picnic areas too around the park. You can bring a packed lunch or even have a barbeque. If you’re not into hiking, you can go along and have a picnic with some very scenic views.
- You can also rent or buy rafts and drift down the river. The earlier the better for this because it does get very busy in the afternoons.
If you’re planning a trip to Yosemite and want to stay in the campsites there, you definitely need to book this well in advance. Especially during the summer months, the campsites can be booked out up to 5 months in advance.
However, there are many other options if you’re stuck. We stayed in a KOA campsite which has since closed down. However, when we were travelling on the Yart (shuttle), it stopped at a number of hostels/hotels along the way. Looking up the Yart routes would be a great way to find your accommodation, especially if you’re not planning on driving. The schedule is linked above. We were an hour outside the park and the Yart was only $12 round trip. Here are some alternative tripadvisor and booking.com options. Rush Creek Lodge is a very popular place to stay too and has brilliant reviews.
If you’re planning on driving into the park, a weekly entrance pass is $25-30 depending on the vehicle size. If you are planning on driving, make sure you get fuel before you get to the park. There are not many fuel stations close by and those that are close by charge a small fortune and will set you back a bit. Mariposa is one of the closest towns to Yosemite, so if you’re passing through there, fill up the tank!
- Book your accommodation early
- Plan what you want to see in advance to make sure you are not disappointed.
- Check out my LA, San Fran and Grand Canyon posts.
- Wifi and phone reception don’t generally work well here
- Enjoy the views 🙂
Top Tip Traveller 🙂