Yosemite is one of America’s Crown Jewels, which has popularized the national park system and became the dream destination for cross-country road trips. With a storybook landscape and a close proximity to California’s major cities, tourists from across the world are flocking to catch a glimpse of iconic sights such as Half Dome and El Capitan. Aside from breath-taking views, Yosemite offers a wide range of recreational activities that appeal towards the majority of world-travellers. From day hikes to lounging around the Merced River, Yosemite has you covered!
What to do in Yosemite National Park:
Glacier Point houses the most popular view in all of Yosemite National Park. With a panoramic vantage point over the valley, photographers will love getting a bird’s eye view of the iconic Half Dome. Glacier Point Road also plays home to Washburn Point and Sentinal Dome trails.
My second favourite spot in Yosemite is the Tunnel View. Conveniently located on the drive towards Yosemite Village, this lookout features astounding views of the valley and El Capitan. Nestled in the distance is Half Dome which sits nicely in the middle of the “tunnel”.
The Yosemite Valley houses a small village and numerous campgrounds. You’ll also find plenty of sights such as Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite Falls and El Capitan. The Valley is a perfect place to start your journey within the park.
Looking for a full day activity in Yosemite? The Tioga Pass is a beautiful drive that takes you through winding mountain roads and vast meadows. There will be plenty of times you’ll want to pull over to admire the view. Olmsted Point and Tuolumne Meadows are just a couple examples of the beauty this drive offers.
Take a Hike
Yosemite’s catch phrase is “Take a hike” and for good reason, the park features some awesome hikes for each level of fitness and experience. One of my favourites is the Mirror Lake trail which loops around a picturesque lake that perfectly reflects the surrounding mountains.
While not technically in Yosemite, a short drive from the Tioga Pass Entrance is Lake Mono. The area features strange geological formations called tufas which line the southern shore. I have never seen anything quite like this lake and it’s strangely beautiful. If you’re doing the Tioga Pass drive, you’ll want to consider going the extra mile to see Lake Mono.
Where to Stay:
Staying within Yosemite is the best option for those who only have a couple days to explore the park. These lodges fill up quickly and are very expensive, be sure to book far in advance. Here is a link to the lodges within Yosemite National Park. For those looking to stay nearby and drive in each day, I have provided a list of my top choices.
Tenaya Lodge: A four-star lodge that is a bit of a drive from the Yosemite Valley. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a hotel more luxurious than Tenaya Lodge anywhere close to the park.
Yosemite View Lodge: This is the best choice in terms of location, being a 5-minute drive from the park entrance it is very convenient. The lodges around El Portal are a little out of date but you’ll be spending the majority of your time exploring Yosemite!
The following towns are a bit of a drive from Yosemite Village but offer a wider range of accommodations. In addition, you’ll find more amenities and have cell service!