One Day Itinerary
If you want to maximize your one day to the park, this itinerary will hit all of the main sights in Yosemite Valley and leave some options for you to make your trip a bit fit your needs. Here is what you will see up close with this itinerary.
The Mist Trail
Half Dome Village
Glacier Point (if you came from the south entrance during summer)
Merced River Rafting
Cook's Meadow Photo Shoot
Bike Rental Ride around Yosemite Valley
Some suggestions to make your trip successful would be to make sure you have fully charged batteries and backups for your camera, a water bottles, a copy of the Yosemite Guide that the Ranger gave you at the entrance station. Always keep the Yosemite Guide with you so you can modify your plans at a moments notice.
This map is a quick review of the areas covered in this itinerary. Check out the full Yosemite map for a detailed look at where everything is.
OK, lets start out your day by getting into the park and heading to Tunnel View near the west end of Yosemite Valley.
10 a.m. - Begin
First, park at the end of the Tunnel by Tunnel view on your way in and grab a few pictures of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall. The view is outstanding and is a no brainer for a great picture opportunity. Make sure you get someone to take a picture of your party.
10:30 a.m. - Arrive at Bridalveil Falls Parking Area
Next, if it is spring, stop at Bridalveil Fall and hike up to the fall, this is a short but steep (24 degrees) hike and make sure you have something to keep you dry. The earlier in the summer the better the falls.
11:30 a.m. - Stop along Southside Drive - El Capitan
After Bridalveil Fall, make your way into deeper into the valley and stop along Southside Drive to snap a few pictures of El Capitan. After a few pictures, head over to the main parking area near Yosemite Village.
Noon - Find a Parking Space and walk to Yosemite Village
Drive over to the visitor parking near Yosemite Village and find a parking spot. Once you get a spot, walk over to Yosemite Village. The walk is short, about 300 yards.
12:15 p.m. - Lunch at Yosemite Village
Take a moment in Yosemite Village to grab some lunch at Degnan's or any of the eateries around Yosemite Village(on the map, the shuttle stops are dark green). See the Yosemite Map for an idea of where everything is. Don't buy any souvenirs here, or you will have to lug them around with you all day. Wait until later at Half Dome Village, or when you head back to the car later in the day you can come back here.
1:00 p.m. - Lower Yosemite Falls Hike
After your lunch, jump on the free Yosemite Shuttle at stop #4 located behind the village store near Degnan's and head over to Stop #6 Lower Yosemite Falls. Make sure you are on the correct bus as they travel in opposite directions around the park. Just ask the bus driver if you are going in the right direction. Once at Stop #6, Walk up to Yosemite Falls and feel the blast from the crushing water falling on the rocks at the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. Make sure you bring a rain jacket as you will most likely leave a bit wet.
2:30 p.m. - Shuttle to Happy Isles - The Mist Trail
After Yosemite Falls, hop back on the shuttle and get off at stop #16 at Happy Isles to make the short hike up to the Vernal Falls Footbridge go past the footbridge and walk a bit further up to the the trail and catch a view of the Mist Trail and the rainbows at the base of the falls. Check out the optional activities to do in place of this hike below.
5:30 p.m. Half Dome Village - Dinner
Once you are soaked enough at Vernal Falls, head back down the hill and take the shuttle (it is one way here) back to Half Dome Village. Stop by the Pizza Patio and grab a bite for dinner. The Pizza is pretty good, and right next to the pizza patio is a nice little bar. Grab a beer and enjoy the shaded patio.
6:30 p.m.- Half Dome Village Shopping
After dinner, head over to the country store at Half Dome Village, it is just around the corner from the pizza patio and do a little souvenir shopping.
7:30 p.m. - Shuttle Back to Car
Head back to Shuttle Stop 1 and head on out after a great day in the park. Remember to stop by Tunnel View for some great sunset shadows playing on the surrounding cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome.
- Swap out the Mist Trail hike for an easier hike up to Mirror Lake
- Swap out the Mist Trail hike with a relaxing day in Cook's Meadow taking pictures of the Valley and Half Dome.
- Swap out the Mist Trail hike and go Rafting down the Merced River. Stop at shuttle stop 13a for the Half Dome Village Recreation Rentals.
- Swap out the Mist Trail Hike and rent a bike and ride around Yosemite Valley.
- Swap out the Mist Trail hike, then at the end of the day, head over to Glacier Point on the way out of the park.
Times will obviously vary. This schedule is geared toward summer travel and should take you about 8 to 10 hours or so, which is a whole day in the winter, during the summer months, you will have an extra 4 hours of daylight to play around with and you can add some extra stops along the way. Things to add would be a trip up to Mirror Lake or go check out The Ahwahnee Hotel or even skip those and head up to Glacier point for sunset and really get a treat.
Make your comments or add additional things to do here.