Hundreds and thousands of visitors flood Yosemite National Park every month. In the summer months that number climbs to over half a million. There’s a reason so many of us rush to California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. The park is a picturesque dream, and there is something there to accommodate every age group. While a full day in the park is enough time to realize just how incredible it is, I recommend committing at least 2 days to explore. Reason being Yosemite is huge and lots of things are fairly spaced out, it could take over an hour to get to a destination once you enter the park. Continue reading for my must see spots in Yosemite, including both hikes and viewpoints.
- Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail
When researching hikes, this was one of the more common hikes that popped up. It’s about 9 miles roundtrip and most of the elevation gain starts within 2 miles. Please note, this is rated “hard” on All Trails. I definitely do not recommend hiking this trail if you do not have prior experience hiking. To be honest, this trail was brutal in the 95 degree weather, but worth every second. I’m used to hiking in the PNW, where the air is typically crisp. Bring plenty of food, water, and sunscreen because the trail will take at least 4 hours to complete and most of the hike after Vernal falls is exposed. The views were incredible from start to finish. I’ve taken quite a bit of photos from my hiking adventures the last couple of years and these are some of my favorites.
- Taft Point
If long and steep hikes aren’t really your thing, but you still want incredible views, THIS IS THE HIKE FOR YOU! 2.3 miles round trip and you are greeted with some of the most insane views I have ever seen. A lot of the famous photos you see of Yosemite are taken from this hike. Both my parents were able to do this and it meant so much to me to share the views with them! Talk about the best picnic spot. Photos of this place do not do it justice, I highly recommend checking it out! I’ve heard that it’s a great hike to do at sunset 🙂 If you want to add onto this hike for a little more milage, add Sentinel Dome for 5 miles roundtrip.
If you’re not an avid hiker, there are plenty of things to see in the park that are just a short walk away. Here are some must see spots:
- Tunnel View: A scenic viewpoint that displays some of the most iconic views of Yosemite Valley. If you skip any of the items on this list, this would be the one I skip because you can get similar views even closer up Glacier Point. That being said, there is a tunnel shortly after this viewpoint and as you’re leaving Yosemite you get the most incredible view as you exit the tunnel. Likely where the name “tunnel view” comes from. In the distance you can see El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls and Half Dome.
- Glacier Point: This viewpoint is INCREDIBLE. You’re greeted with amazing views after a short walk from the parking lot, but you can also walk about a quarter mile up and reach Glacier Point. The views across the parking lot are just as good, so you don’t need to go all the way to the end. If you have the energy to stay for sunset, make this your last stop in the park!
- Valley View:
I’ve always wanted to check this place out. When you research this place, you are presented with some of the most beautiful pictures. Valley view has El Capitan on the left and Bridalveil fall on the right
- Boardwalk near the church
This next stop seems a bit random, but it was such a beautiful spot to conclude our day trip in Yosemite. Typically this boardwalk is packed with people, but the crowds thin out in the evening. This spot does not officially have a name, but it’s located right before the church, it will be on your left.
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That concludes a 48 guide to Yosemite National Park. Happy exploring!