My Yosemite Day Trip Guide
If you only have one day to visit Yosemite National Park and you want to make the most out of it, follow this Yosemite day trip guide for an unforgettable experience.
For my birthday, I wanted to visit Yosemite National park with my family. But since I didn’t plan ahead and book a hotel or cabin many weeks in advance we had to go and come back the same day.
Peter and I travel to Yosemite National Park at least once a year, but my family hadn’t been in years, and it was my little sister’s first visit. I wanted this to be an unforgettable Yosemite day trip.
We packed as much as we could in while still enjoying the scenery and squeezing some time in to hike up to Yosemite Falls. The following is what we fit in our Yosemite day trip. We started our day at about 10:30 am in the park and left the park at about 9:00 pm.
Stop at Tunnel View
Tunnel View is the mandatory first stop once in Yosemite. If it’s your first time in Yosemite National Park that you’ll want to stay here for hours and marvel and the beauty and grandness of the park. Tunnel View will take your breath away.
In this scenic viewpoint, you’re able to see Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, and Bridalveil Falls. Tunnel View is where everyone’s get “the shot.” You’ll capture a magnificent photograph that looks like a postcard.
Bridalveil Fall is the waterfall you see in the distance while standing at Tunnel View. Bridalveil Fall also the first waterfall you can stop at to see up close. There is a paved walkway from the parking lot to the base of the waterfall. We were here at the end of July, so there wasn’t much water but in the Spring and early Summer the water is gushing.
Sentinel Meadow/Cook’s Meadow Loop
Sentinel Meadow one of my favorite stops! This meadow is incredibly lush with wood walking paths right through. Once on the walking path you can see Yosemite Falls.
Find a picnic table for lunch
Most likely if you’re doing a Yosemite day trip, you didn’t reserve a spot for picnicking so ask a park ranger. We asked a ranger, and he directed us to a gorgeous picnic area where no reservations were necessary and were empty. Since it’s not identified on Yosemite’s map, click here for the coordinates.
This spot was where we had a nice, long relaxing lunch! There weren’t tons of people, and it was silent.
Visit Lower Yosemite Falls
After lunch head over to Lower Yosemite Falls. If you’re doing a Yosemite day trip in the summer, this area is going to be very busy. There are tons of people walking up and down the paths and even hiking up to get a closer look at the falls.
If you visit Yosemite in the winter, it will be the opposite. I’ve shared a photo of Lower Yosemite Falls before on my blog when we visit in the winter; it was empty.
In this spot, you’re able to see all of Yosemite Falls from top to bottom surrounded by trees and the mountain.
Hike up to Yosemite Falls (if weather permits) to see it up close
Again depending on the time of year you visit Yosemite there could be lots of water or small amounts of water. Since we were here late July, there was not much water, so we went “off the path” and climbed the rocks to the base of Yosemite Falls.
There are danger signs posted at the bridge of Yosemite Falls so if you’re not comfortable climbing it’s better that you appreciate it from afar. Everyone was making their way to the base of Yosemite Falls from the old to the young so we decided we should too.
Peter, my sister, my dad and I made it to the pool of water at the base of Yosemite Falls, and it was incredible. The water was icy, but there were some jumping off rocks diving into the water. It was a first for my and a one of a kind view of the waterfall.
View Sunset at Glacier Point
As it gets towards the end of your Yosemite day trip start making your way out of Yosemite Valley towards Glacier Point.
It takes about 30 minutes to get to Glacier Point from the posted road sign. There is a fork in the road one that takes you down into Yosemite Valley, and the other takes you up to Glacier Point.
Since Glacier point is so high up it’s only open six months out of the years during winter because it’s too snowy and dangerous. So if you’re here in the summer, you’re in for a treat.
This winding road takes you up to one of the most spectacular viewpoint anywhere! This incredible view gets you very close to Half Dome. From Glacier Point, you also see Yosemite Valley and three waterfalls. This postcard vista point will end your day with the best view in Yosemite.
If you get there before sunset enjoys the short hikes to get different views of the valley and Half Dome. About five minutes before sunset a park ranger comes and gives a talk about sunset in Yosemite National Park.
I hope this Yosemite day trip guide gives you some ideas for your journey!