Making The Most Of A Day Trip To Yosemite National Park

Originally written for Wildland Trekking, 2022

Yosemite National Park has been on your to-do list for a while now, but how do you make the most of the visit with limited time? Due to the high cost of car and air travel, perhaps you only have one day to visit Yosemite and want to see as much as possible. Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the United States, made famous by its stunning natural features and breathtaking scenery. Ideally, the park welcomes a long and relaxed stay, but if you're short on time, below are three highlights that are not to be missed.

What to know before you go

Yosemite is accessible year-round, although many of the roads within the park are closed in winter. Most visitors come to the park between late spring and early autumn. If waterfalls are your main interest, the peak time for high water is March to May as the snow melts out.

There is a shuttle service that visits all of the major attractions, but if you are on a tighter schedule, it may be best to drive your own vehicle in the interest of time. While there is parking available in the park, it is somewhat limited and visitors should plan accordingly.

Lodging outside of and within the park tends to fill up quickly, and visitors are urged to book reservations for hotels and campgrounds as early as possible, as these locations can fill up months in advance.

What to see on a day trip to Yosemite

While some compromises will have to be made if you only have a day to spend in Yosemite, there is still plenty to see with proper planning and an early start.

Glacier Point - Undoubtedly one of the most picturesque and spectacular locations within the park, Glacier Point provides a breathtaking view of the famous Half Dome, Nevada Falls, and the enormous expanse of the Yosemite Valley below.

Mariposa Grove - This grove is home to over 500 mature sequoia trees. Its most famous and oldest resident is the "Grizzly Giant", which towers 210 ft. over the forest floor and is estimated to be between 1,900-2,400 years-old. Walking paths lead through the grove and literally through the trees, making for a truly unique hiking experience.

Yosemite Falls - This spectacular waterfall, the tallest in North America, is also a must-see. Yosemite Creek tumbles a total of nearly 2,500 ft. from top to bottom over a series of three tiers, and various outlooks provide excellent vantage points.

Are you ready to explore more?

As noted above, visiting Yosemite National Park with the hopes of seeing everything that it has to offer is a tall order. The good news that visiting the highlights described above will hopefully spark the interest to return for a longer stay!

For complete information on planning your visit, see the Yosemite National Park website:

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