Yosemite is one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been to my entire life. Mother Nature lights up the moment you enter the park, and my eyes light up each time I have visited. This trip marks the third time I have had the pleasure of staying there, and it certainly will not be the last. Below you will find pictures of my stay while I was there, and I hope it serves to you as a visual guide of what a trip to Yosemite can entail for you.
I would recommend booking a camp site well in advance or if you want to pay more you can glamp, like I did, at Half Dome Village. If you are a big spender, then there are hotels in the area that will cost you a pretty penny! I would highly recommend going during the off season, as there will be more available spots to stay in, especially if you are like me and not the best at planning a vacation months and months in advance. In the summer months, you would need to plan well in advance if you are looking to camp there. the weather is sunny and it does not bring the mysterious shifts in weather, like you will see in my pictures below.
Some areas you need to check out include: Glacier Point, Tunnel View, and of course you need to plan a hike while you are there! I list the hikes I have currently done and highly recommend below. Also, you will get a map once you enter Yosemite National Park. I encourage you to keep it with you at all times or take a picture of it so you do not get lost!
Tips for hiking that are essential to provide you the best day!
- Buy hiking shoes. Just do it. It’s worth the investment.
- Wear layers. You will typically start out bundled up, and once the day progresses or the sun comes out, you will want to de-layer. Layer is key.
- Pack water and food. Then pack more of it. Don’t let yourself get thirsty or hangry. Take my first hiking experience here as your own fail. I did not have snacks, and I become an irritable, grumpy person to be around; hanger is a real thing!
- Pack an emergency kit that includes bandaids, pain medicine, a flashlight or headlamp. You wouldn’t want a silly blister or a raging headache to rain on your parade, so be prepared! You also may stay out a little later than you planned, and that’s okay – especially if you have a flashlight or even better, a headlamp!
- Pack a photography kit: a camera, a tripod, a backup charger. You won’t want to go home empty handed, evening being in the essence of Mother Nature, once you see all of breathtaking landscape before your eyes.
- Bonus: If you are an overpacked, like myself, I like to remind myself that weather can change instantly and I really dislike being cold. Therefore I dress in layers, pack extra socks, a poncho, gloves, and maybe some hand warmers if I know the weather is going to be cold. If it is warm, I may pack an extra bra if I know I’m going to get super duper sweaty. Hey, you never know where the day will take you, and I would rather be over prepared than grumpy while I’m either standing in the rain trying to take in all the magic Yosemite has to offer or brutally sweating and thinking “Oh, I’m so gross right now;” stay comfortable out there and you will have the best experience of your life!
Tips for exploring Yosemite National Park
- Take the bus around town so you can see different areas of Yosemite without having to walk everywhere.
- Rent or bring a bike (explore quicker than on your feet).
- Plan a hike and stick to it.
- Check out the Nature Center for art classes. They hold them each week, and you can learn from a professional if you are not in the mood to hike for four hours of your day!
Below are the hikes I have done, and the estimated time it has taken me (or my partner) to get to.
Easy hike: Vernal Fall Bridge, about 3o minutes. Don’t let the 0.8 miles fool you, as this hike is no joke – especially to beginners or people that do not exercise regularly. You need to bring water on this hike, and you need to be prepared that it is OK to stop and take breaks.
Moderate hike: Top of Vernal Fall, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. PRO TIP: pack a rain jacket, as you ascend this hike on the right side, water will be cascading down to you and YOU WILL GET WET. Be prepared, my friends, as in the moment it is exhilarating, but when the hype wears down, you will be wet and cold.
Difficult hike: Top of Nevada Fall, about 2 hours. (Disclaimer: this information is from my boyfriend who hiked to Half Dome last week, and this hike to the top of Nevada Fall is on my bucket list for the next time I go to Yosemite).
Very Difficult hike: Yosemite Falls, a full day of hiking. (Disclaimer: I had to turn around, as I had started this hike too late, and was fearful that it would get dark if I were to trek on to the top of this hike)
If you are looking to see a waterfall and not have to go on a hike to it, I would recommend checking out Bridalveil Fall. You can park and walk about 5 minutes on the trail to see it cascading down, viewing from the bottom of it, of course. You could also park at Tunnel View and see this waterfall from there during certain seasons, as earliest as March and as latest to October.
I hope this information helps you plan your next trip to Yosemite! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below, send me an email, or message me on instagram. I would be happy to help answer any questions you may have about going!