Overlooking Olmstead Point
After over a month of non-stop travel, I am finally getting back in the groove of things 🙂 I visited San Diego for the first time ever this past weekend (Can you believe it?!) and while I had a blast, I came back with the absolute WORST sunburn of my life! I’ve been a recluse for a couple of days, limping around my apartment in excruciating pain so I’ll be forgoing outfit posts until next week 🙂 BUT I’m excited to share some photos from our recent Yosemite trip! A few years ago, I shared my Ultimate Yosemite Travel Guide which includes the best places to stay/eat as well as various points of interest. Today, I’m sharing my favorite things to do in Yosemite!
♥ My Favorite Things to Do in Yosemite ♥
This is a recent discovery! My husband and I have been going to Yosemite together at least once a year for over a decade (by now, I’m pretty much an expert!)! The first year we went, I saw photos of this place and immediately put it on my bucket list! The thing is that it’s open for part of the year due to snow (usually April/May to Oct/Nov – but this year, it opened in in July!).
A gorgeous scenic outlook along Tioga Road (pictured above). We loved the view of Half Dome and Cloud’s Rest! Below the outlook is a hiking trail and on the other side of the road is a fun rock face to climb.
Gazing at the gorgeous Tenaya Lake
Probably my favorite place in the Tuolumne Meadows area! This alpine lake is surrounded by towering pine trees and boasts the most beautiful blue water. A great place to relax or take a dip!
Hiking down Pothole Dome overlooking Tuolumne Meadows
A gorgeous subalpine meadow that encompasses the beautiful Tuolumne River. It’s covered in colorful wildflowers (early in the season) and surrounded by majestic mountain peaks. There’s multiple hiking paths to wander but we loved climbing Pothole Dome for stunning views of the meadow.
The Stunning View from Glacier Point
Aside from Tunnel View, Glacier Point is hands down my favorite view of Yosemite! On one side, you overlook the entire valley including Yosemite Falls and on the other, you get an incredible view of Half Dome, Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls. This is also the starting (or ending) point for quite a few hikes including Four Mile Trail and the Panorama Trail. It’s only open partially during the year (usually the same as Tuolumne Meadows – April/May to Oct/Nov depending on snowfall).
If you watched my Instagram stories, then you saw that we actually hiked the Panorama trail for the first time! It’s marked as 8.5 miles, but it was actually closer to 11.5. This trail starts out with sweeping views of Yosemite as it heads down to the beautiful Illilouette Fall. from there, you hike uphill and back down again until you reach the top of Nevada Fall. From there, you hike even further down until you reach the top of Vernal Fall and the famed rock stairs that take you along the waterfall, across the foot bridge and finally down to Yosemite Valley (see the route in the photo above).
At the Base of Lower Yosemite Fall
Lower Yosemite Fall
A very popular and easy loop that takes you to the base of the fall. Check out the hike to upper Yosemite Fall if you want more of a challenge!
Hiking Alongside Vernal Fall
Probably one of my favorite hikes in all of Yosemite! There are rock stairs that go up alongside the fall and the most gorgeous emerald pool – seriously the coolest thing ever! You can get here via the Mist Trail (go a couple of miles in). In the Spring and Summer, it can get a bit slippery though so be cautious and bring along waterproof clothing if you don’t want to get wet. Make sure you go all the way to the top of the fall. I promise, it’s worth it!
The Top of Nevada Falls
Breathtaking View of Nevada Fall from the John Muir Trail
If you want even more of a challenge, head past Vernal Fall to Nevada Fall via the Mist Trail. It’s definitely a workout since there are SO.many.rock.stairs to climb but the view is to die for! Fun Fact: This is also the trail that leads to the famed Half Dome! On the way down, if you prefer to bypass all the rock stairs, take the John Muir trail. It’s slightly longer, but still very scenic.
Backside of the Ahwanee
Our favorite place to relax! We love coming here for Sunday brunch, to grab some truffles and hot chocolate or just to relax (usually outside or in the great room). If you’re not much of a camper, they have some beautiful rooms but it’s a bit pricey and keep in mind that they go out a year in advance for reservations.
The Beautiful Merced River Outside the Ahwanee
Located just outside the Ahwanee, this river meanders throughout the park. In the summer, you can raft or kayak as well as swim in certain spots. I will warn you though that it’s much stronger than it looks so proceed with caution and only use designated areas.
Don’t forget to check out other faves like Bridalveil Fall, Mirror Lake and Mariposa Grove as well!
A Gorgeous Meadow Near Bridal Veil Creek
Best Time to Visit
Personally, I love spring and fall! May and October are my favorite months and they are much less populated than summer. IF you do happen to go during summer, as many do, I HIGHLY recommend getting there as soon as possible. If you’re not already staying in the area, parking will be next to impossible to find unless you come VERY early in the morning (I recommend 7 am or 8am). If you plan on camping, keep in mind that reservations typically go out about five months for most campsites although there are a couple that have have first come first serve site as well (but you MUST get there early!).
- Roaring Waterfalls
- Beautiful Wildflowers
- Unpredictable Weather
- Less People
- Not Many Bugs
- Roaring Waterfalls
- Tuolumne Meadows and Glacier Point are Open
- Hot Weather
- LOTS of Tourists!
- Bugs Galore!
- Buses Are Running
- Gorgeous Fall Foilage
- Less People
- Not Many Bugs
- Unpredictable Weather But Usually Very Nice!
- Waterfalls Have Less Water
- Hardly Any People
- Many Trails Are Closed
- Camping Not Recommended
- Cold Weather
View of Tunnel View at Night
One of favorite activities to do in Yosemite is to star gaze! My favorite spots are Cook’s Meadow, Tunnel View, Glacier Point and pretty much anywhere else that is super open and away from any light pollution or busy areas. In my experience, the best time to star gaze is when there is “no moon.” You can seriously see millions of stars with the naked eye! It’s absolutely incredible!
During the last trip, my husband and I decided to experiment with night photography! They are a little bit blurry but it was so much fun playing around with the settings to get different shots! These were two of my images (I tried to get the stars) – shot at around 11pm at night with the only light being the (full) moon 🙂
If you’ve been to Yosemite, what are a few of your favorite things to do?
If you haven’t, you must put this gorgeous destination on your bucket list! It’s unlike any place in the world 🙂 Always happy to answer additional questions or are suggestions as well – just leave me a comment <3