It can be done! Read on to learn about what you absolutely CANNOT miss if you only have one day to visit Yosemite National Park.
1. Yosemite Valley Loop – Scenic Drive
Distance: 11.5 miles (full loop)
Elevation: mostly level at 4,000 feet
Time: 3-5 hours (depending on stopping times, breaks, etc.)
Begin at: Hwy 41, Hwy 140, or Hwy 120
The best way to blow your mind away by the vastly impressive landmarks that live in Yosemite, is to drive along the Yosemite Valley loop. This scenic drive leads you around the valley, which is a very famously popular area for climbers and tourists alike. These pictures were captured along the scenic drive loop:
I know, right? These views look even more spectacular in person. My favorite view along the Yosemite Valley loop was the view from the Tunnel lookout point. You could see the two most well-known rock features in the climbing world: El Capitan and Half Dome. This was my first visit to Yosemite, and after laying my eyes on these gorgeously intimidating rocks, I felt awakened to do more and to be more.
2. Glacier Point
Distance: 32 miles
Elevation: 7,200 feet
Time: ~1.5 hours
Begin at: Wawona Road (Hwy 41)
Road closures: Glacier Point Road is open from approximately late May through October or November, depending on conditions.
Along the same route as the Yosemite Valley loop, you should discover all the glory that this famous overlook is known for!
I especially want to highlight Glacier Point, because it is wheelchair accessible. The path is smoothed, paved, and leads you to a righteous landscape. This simplified our lives when we were traveling with our parents, who were grateful for the access and entranced by Glacier Point.
3. The Four Mile Hike
Distance: 4.8 mi (7.7 km) one way to Glacier Point. 9.6 mi (15.5 km) round trip
Elevation: 3,200 ft (975 m) elevation gain
Time: 3-4 hours one-way, 6-8 hours round trip
Starting point: Four Mile Trailhead along Southside Drive in Yosemite Valley
Unfortunately, it was not a time to tackle the famous 4-Mile hike during ur visit to Yosemite National Park. But, everyone talks about it, so it must be something special, right?
Click here to learn more about the Four Mile Hike. You’ll encounter amazing views of Yosemite Falls and of the valley.
In the future, I’d love to add my own personal experience with this adventure. Have you conquered this hike? Would you recommend it? Comment below!
4. Yosemite Falls Hike
There’s something special about Yosemite Falls. Did you know it is the highest waterfall in the park? This impressive water attraction is 2,425 feet long and most definitely one of the most popular attractions of the park. If you can, you should plan your visit in the spring, as it is the best time to indulge in it’s magnificence.
We hiked to the lower falls area, and were amazed by the stunning view! Even though we did not do the entire hike up to Upper Yosemite Fall, the friendly and handicap accessible hike through the Lower Yosemite Fall still provided much pleasure and amusement! You could hike your way closer to the falls to get a memorable photo next to the 320 foot Lower Yosemite Fall.
If you’ve only got one day in the park and want to pay a visit to the tallest waterfall in the park, check out the Lower Yosemite Fall hike or the entire Yosemite Falls hike here.
5. Bridalveil Falls
Distance: 0.5 miles
Elevation: 4,000 feet
Time: 15 minutes
Starting point: Bridalveil Fall designated parking area
We were lucky enough to capture this phenomenal shot above of Bridalveil Falls. If you’re driving along Highway 41, it is just a quick detour to pull off and snap a photo of the falls. It drops 620 feet and should be the very first waterfall to welcome you to Yosemite National Park. You’ll be impressed by how beautiful it is, and even more so by how accessible the parking area and trail are in order to view Bridalveil Falls.
Similar to Yosemite Falls, the best time to visit is during the spring and even early summer. The path is paved, but not the most wheelchair-friendly. It’s grade would make for a challenging trip. Nonetheless, you can still capture a satisfying view of the falls from the parking area!
6. Taft Point
Distance: 2.2 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 7,700 feet at trailhead; 7,500 feet at Taft Point
Time: 1-2 hours
Starting point: park at the trailhead, shared with Sentinel Dome. The lot fills up rapidly, but you can always park along Glacier Point Road if the lot is full
Taft Point is often open from June through October. If you’re driving from the valley, drive along Highway 41 for about 9 miles until you are on Glacier Point Road. The trailhead should be along Glacier Point Road about 13.5 miles later.
I have heard that the hike is kind of steep but rewards you with some spectacular views of El Capitan, the northern valley, and Yosemite Falls.
This is another hike that is on the to-do list once we get another opportunity to visit Yosemite National Park.
7. May Lake and Mount Hoffman
Certainly a stop on my ‘to-do’ list, as this was yet another stunning destination we did not have time to explore personally. However, my research suggests that May Lake and Mount Hoffman are must-sees while exploring the brilliant beauty Yosemite holds.
You might want to make sure that Tioga Pass Road is open while planning your visit. Typically, it is accessible from June until October. Plan your amazing adventure up to 10,845 feet in elevation while climbing Mount Hoffman.
Click here to learn more about what to see, how to get there, and what to do once you’re there!
8. Tenaya Lake
Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation: 8,150 feet
Time: ~1.5 hours
Begin at: If you’re coming from the valley, take highway 120 ten miles to the Crane Flat turnoff onto Tioga Road. Drive for about 31 miles east to reach the lake; there’s a sign that’s very easy to spot. If you’re approaching Yosemite’s east entrance at Tioga Pass, drive 15.5 miles west to reach the lake. Again, it’s obvious to find Tenaya Lake.
Road closures: Make sure Tioga Road is open. It’s usually accessible between June thru October.
This was a pretty chill pitstop that we took while driving along Tioga Road. It was a peaceful lake filled with very clear and refreshing water. Yes, you can swim in the water, so bring your swimsuits! Keep in mind it is a bit of a haul from the Yosemite Valley, but it is certainly worth the stop if you’re looking for something to do for a half of a day or so.
The lake itself is approximately one mile long, so there is plentiful space, but don’t expect to absorb the wondrous lake in solitude.
The views are just as spectacular as you would imagine them to be in Yosemite.
Yosemite National Park
Have you been to Yosemite? What have you explored there? Are there climbs or hikes that you would recommend? Please comment below and tell me more about your experiences in Yosemite National Park.
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