Two Day Itinerary
Things you will see up close on this two day itinerary
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Wawona Pioneer History Center
Half Dome Village
The Mist Trail and Vernal Falls
Happy Isles Nature Center (Optional)
Rafting the Merced River
Get ready for abusy day so pack a picnic lunch that you can eat when you get to Glacier Point. The only places to stop for food are a couple gas stations and the Glacier Point Eatery is much like the hot fast type food that most convenience stores carry.
Most of Yosemite's famous features can be seen on a two day trip. The best thing about a two day trip is that you might be able to find a random open date at one of the campgrounds a day or so after they have been gobbled up on recreation.gov. Another possibility is checking in with the camping offices at the back end of the Half Dome Village parking lot to see if there are any cancellations and try to get one of those sites.
Ok, here we go.
10:00 a.m. - Arrive at the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Head over to the Mariposa Grove of Sequoias and beat the heaviest crowds by getting there before 10 am. Hike up to the Grizzly Giant and along the way you will pass several famous trees including the Bachelor and the Three Graces, The Fallen Monarch, and a bit farther up is the California Tunnel Tree. Plan for approximately 1 1/2 hours of hiking. Here is a National Park Service self guided hiking brochure and map for the Mariposa Grove.
12:00 Noon - Arrive at Wawona
Next drive about 10 minutes over to Wawona and fill up the gas tank. Take a trip to the past at the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. If you are doing well on time, take the 10 minute horse drawn stage ride. Tickets can be purchased at the Stage Office in the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. Rides cost $4 per adult and $3 per child (ages 3-12)
1:30 p.m. - Arrive at Glacier Point
Head to Glacier point and take in the stunning views. the drive takes about one hour. Plan about an hour at Glacier Point as there are several views to absorb. Eat your picnic lunch and enjoy the view.
3:30 p.m. - Arrive at Tunnel View Parking Area
Next, drive about 1 hour over to Tunnel View by heading back out from glacier point and when you get to Highway 41, turn right and drive to one of the most famous places to take pictures that Yosemite has to offer. Plan on stopping the second you get out of the Tunnel. See this video for an idea of where to get out and what you will see at the end of the tunnel. This is the west end of Yosemite Valley. You should be here around 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. if you started at 10 am at Mariposa
4:00 p.m. - Arrive at Bridalveil Falls
Next, leave the parking area and head over to Bridalveil Falls, which is a quick trip and try to grab a parking spot. Hike up to the falls and snap a few pictures. Bring some rain gear as you will get wet here. Total time here less than an hour.
4:45 - Pictures of El Capitan
Stop along Southside Drive and snap a few pictures of El Capitan. After a quick stop, head over to your Campsite or Hotel and check in.
5:00 p.m. - Check-in at campsite or hotel
Head over to your campsite and check in and set up camp or check in to your hotel. If you
7:00 p.m. - Head out for Dinner
Next grab the free Yosemite Shuttle and head over to Half Dome Village (Stop 13b, 14 or 20) and grab a pizza and a beer at the Pizza Patio. There are several places to eat in Half Dome Village. Check out the Food and Beverage page for details.
Always ask the driver if the shuttle you are getting on is the correct shuttle to get where you are going. Getting on the shuttle going the wrong way can eat valuable time from your day. Take a peek at the Yosemite guide for a map of the shuttle system.
8:00 p.m. Sentinel Bridge
After dinner but before sunset, head over to Sentinel Bridge and get some really nice pictures of the sunset on Half Dome.
- You've earned some rest time, go back to camp and grab a beer.
9:00 a.m. - Grab a Parking spot at Half Dome Village/Breakfast
If you are camping, pack up camp and drive over to Half Dome Village of the main visitor parking and grab a parking spot for the day.
Grab a buffet style breakfast at the Half Dome Village Dining Pavilion. You can do the same at Yosemite Lodge. Not in the mood for breakfast or just looking for a coffee? Hit the Coffee Corner at Half Dome Village for lattes, cappuccinos and other caffeine infused beverages. Not interested in breakfast or did you get an early start? Head over to the Ahwahnee Hotel and take some pictures.
10:00 a.m. - Rafting Trip Down the Merced River
Head over to the
Half Dome Village Recreation Rentals (shuttle stop 13a) and book a rafting trip down the Merced River. This may be one of the most memorable ways to visit Yosemite. Your Rafting Trip will begin after a 10 minute introduction and then you will be given a raft to carry over to the river and begin your rafting trip. When you reach Sentinel Beach, there will be a return vehicle waiting to take you back to Half Dome Village along with your raft.
1:00 p.m. - Half Dome Village For Lunch
Grab a bite to eat for lunch at Half Dome Village. Try the Taqueria for a quick bite before the hike up to Vernal Falls.
Not that hungry, pick up a snack at the Country Store. Don't forget a water bottle for the following hike.
1:45 p.m. - Arrive at Happy Isles - Begin Hike to Vernal Falls
After you finish lunch, jump on a shuttle over to Happy Isles (stop 16) and take the 1 mile hike up to Vernal Falls via the Mist Trail. Definitely do not stop at the footbridge. If you want some really great views including the famous rainbows at the base of Vernal falls, take a few extra minutes and go past the bridge and up the trail. You don't need to climb to the top of the falls as this will eat up extra time. Head back to Happy Isles and Grab a shuttle over to Yosemite Village.
4:30 p.m. - Yosemite Village
Get off at Stop 2. Don't get off at stop 4 or you will have to go over to the Ahwahnee Hotel unless that is something you want to hit along the way. Go over to the Village Store and do a little souvenir shopping at the well stocked store. The store has almost every knick-knack you can imagine.
5:30 p.m. - Yosemite Falls
After you finish shopping, jump on the Yosemite shuttle and get off at shuttle stop 6 (Lower Yosemite Falls). Take a leisurly stroll up to the tallest waterfall in the U.S. Make sure to bring rain gear as you will get wet if you plan on walking up to the bridge crossing the river below Lower Yosemite Falls. After your walk up to the falls, head back the way you came and head back to the Half Dome Village Parking area. If you have extra time, try doing one of the activities below.
Suggestions if you have extra time:
- Do a ranger program (see the Yosemite Guide for times and places)
- If you have kids, take them over to the Half Dome Village Pavilion and watch Ranger Ned's Big Adventure.
- Hang out around Cook's Meadow. There are some really good photo opportunities of Half Dome here.
- Head over to the Ahwanee Hotel (Shuttle Stop 3)
- Rent a bike at the Half Dome Village Bike Rentals and take a ride around the Valley Floor
- Hike up to Mirror Lake (Shuttle Stop 17)