Yosemite after 20 visits

I moved to California 3 years ago and I’ve probably been to Yosemite close to 20 times. A lot of times it is because I have friends or family visiting California and they want to see Yosemite.

The result of this, along with the fact that I I love planning trips, I’ve probably been asked this question way too many times: “I’m going to Yosemite for the first time and I only have 2 days, what should I do?”

I know there are tons of blog posts already, but the fact that I still get asked this question made me think, about writing a blog post, so that next time someone asks me I send them a link to this post. Alright, here we go:

There are lots of things to do in Yosemite, but let’s say you only have a day or two, and you don’t want to read and research what you love, and you want to go ahead with things I love, here’s my list of must-do things in Yosemite.

Being so close to the bay area, the park gets really crowded and finding parking becomes really challenging, so a lot of this post is around where to leave car and take the bus. If there’s one pro tip from this post it has to be this: Traffic gets bad, so avoid driving and use the shuttle service as much as possible.

Tunnel View and Bridal Veil falls

Can’t go wrong with the classic viewpoint. The parking at Tunnel view gets busy with tour buses and tourists, so parking on the right just before Tunnel View can make a huge difference.

Half Dome village (now Curry Village)

During busy seasons, I always used to park at half dome village and then take shuttle bus everywhere. Campsites get booked months in advance, but if you are able to plan ahead, this is my favorite part of the part.

As of 2019, parking at half dome is available only for those with campground reservations, but there is always some parking on the way from Bridal Veil to Curry village with frequent buses.

Do pay a lot of attention to bear safety. There are lots of bears in the park. Here’s one I saw near Happy Isles in June 2018.

Mist trail

If you take the bus from Half Dome, get off at Happy Isles, walk a few steps forward and the trailhead will be on your right. You can do as little or as much of this hike, and it’s still beautiful. If you’re going after the rains, the trail is beautiful with lots of mist.

Mirror Lake

It’s a long walk to get to this lake named after the beautiful reflections, seen in the lake.

It’s an amazing photo spot, but but there’s not much to do here other than taking pictures. Most of the area around the lake is very plain. Also this is a seasonal lake, so it dries up pretty fast after the rains.

Below is a picture I took in 2018.

Glacier point (closed in Winters)

A great point for watching sunset and enjoying panaromic views of the valley, it is an hour long drive from other spots in the valley.

They frequently have stargazing programs (check NPS website for upcoming events), which are amazing.

There are way more things to do in Yosemite, but these would make some great spots for a first-timer to Yosemite.