Where to fly to: Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno
Personal Opinion/Timing Tip: Yosemite can be done in 2-3 full days plus travel time
Where to stay: Visit: Travel Yosemite to book. There are cabins, permanent tents, tent sites, and RV sites. Yosemite lodging sells out FAST! Book as early as you possibly can. We stayed at the permanent tents and booked 6 months in advance.
Tip: The BEST time to see anything in Yosemite is sunrise or sunset. I think Yosemite becomes 10x more beautiful during sunset because the setting sun adds so much color and dimension!
Things to do:
THE most beautiful spot (in my opinion) in Yosemite during sunset. It is an easy 1 mile hike to get to the cliffs. You’re hiking through treeline for the majority of the time until you reach the open cliff area. This will definitely test someone with a fear of heights!!
The trailhead is about 1 mile away from Glacier Point.
The parking area is very small so you may need to park on the side of the road. Pit toilets are available at the beginning of the hike.
This was taken by Silver Leaf Photography:
There are little areas like this at Taft point, watch your step!
The BEST sunset spot in Yosemite!
The road to glacier point is only open in the Summer. Its about 20 miles from Yosemite Valley and takes roughly 1 hour to drive to. This is a popular spot so try to get there early or late otherwise, parking can be difficult (or non existent).
Glacier Point is a small area with the BEST view of half dome. You can easily spend an hour here! A lot of hikes begin (or end) here. Its also pretty dusty!
The photos below were taken by Silver Leaf Photography
This is a small area about 20 minutes from Yosemite Valley (you pass it on the way to Glacier point). The best view of the valley is here! Parking is limited but people are constantly coming and going. The best time to see it is sunset and sunrise.
Panorama Hike (Including Nevada and Vernal Falls)
Listed as 8.5 miles, this hike is closer to 10 after all the detours and stops.
This is a one way hike– you have to secure transportation at the beginning or end of the hike. We made the mistake of winging it and trying to hitch hike back up after the hike. It was a BAD idea. I highly recommend catching the bus/tour to Glacier Point and hiking down.
Visit: Glacier Point Tour Bus to secure the one way transportation with Yosemite’s tour bus. $25 one way. This tour sells out FAST- book ASAP.
General Breakdown of the hike:
Your view for the first 2 miles:
Illilouette falls at about 2.25 miles
At mile 2.65, you will reach Illilouette Creek
Panorama Point at mile 3.3
The next 1.25 miles is uphill
At mile 6.25, you will reach Nevada Falls
The view of the valley from Nevada Falls
The view on the way down of Nevada falls
The final bridge at mile 8.5.
When we reached the end, we had to continue for another 1/2 mile back to our campsite. The line for the bus was so ridiculous that we figured that it would be faster walk.
Since we drove to glacier point and hiked down, we had to find a way back to the car. After an hour of trying to hitchhike (its totally a thing in Yosemite), we gave up. Thank goodness we had an acquaintance that was kind enough to lend us their car to go back.
I highly recommend that you DO NOT do what we did. After such a long hike, you just want to drink some beers and relax, not worry about going back to Glacier point to get your car.
Some other things that we did not do but appear to be worth a visit:
Bridal Veil Falls 1.2 roundtrip hike to the waterfall
Sentinel Dome: Starts at the same area as Taft point, 2.2 miles roundtrip hike to the top with beautiful views
El Capitan Meadow: People say this is a great place to watch the climbers (with binoculars) and a nice place to have a picnic
Swinging Bridge Beautiful 1.5 mile RT hike to a bridge with areas where you can swim, also a good spot for a picnic
Mariposa Groves: the famous forest of Sequoia trees just reopened in July 2018