Yosemite National Park Guide: Hikes, Waterfalls, View Points, Food & Lodging

Yosemite National Park is one of California's most popular attractions and it is easy to see why. The park is incredibly magical with flowing waterfalls, thousands of miles of backcountry trails and views that you have only seen in your dreams. I have been to Yosemite a dozen times, and I still get excited every time I get to go again. Here are some of my favorite spots in the park for you to explore, click through on any of the posts you are interested in. Be sure to leave your favorites in the comments so I can keep exploring as well.

Hikes in Yosemite Valley

Yosemite is a hikers paradise with so many trails it is impossible to even complete them in a lifetime. Yosemite is the start of the famous John Muir Trail, but if you are looking for some great adventures that don’t take a few weeks then check out the below ideas.

Mirror Lake

Mariposa Grove

Half Dome

Bridalveil Falls

Sentinel Dome

Mist Trail

Hikes in Yosemite High Country

The high country of Yosemite is located off Tioga Pass Road, Highway 120. This route is closed during the winter, but during the summer it is full of hiking, camping and backpacking spots. Here are a few of my favorites.

May Lake

Clouds Rest

Glen Aulin

Lembert Dome

Elizabeth Lake & Unicorn Peak

North Dome

Stargazing

Yosemite is an amazing spot for stargazing as it is so dark when you get out of the valley. My favorite spot for it is Glacier Point which you can read about below.

Glacier Point

Indian Rock Arch

Winter Attractions

Winter is my favorite time to visit Yosemite as there is only a quarter of the people that visit in the summer and the snow really makes the valley come to life. Getting out on a pair of snowshoes is a great way to see this beautiful area during the winter, here are a few of my favorite spots.

Snowshoe to Dewey Point

Snowshoe to Tuolumne Grove

View Points

The tunnel view in Yosemite is probably my favorite view in all of California, but there are countless other viewpoints that are just as great to explore in the park.

Tunnel View

Glacier Point

Dewey Point

Sentinel Dome

Ten Best Half Dome Viewpoints

Hetch Hetchy

Hetch Hetchy is the valley and water reservoir that was dammed in the 1920’s and that provides water for the San Francisco region. There are a few hikes that take you around the water to some of the waterfalls, here is one I did.

Hetch Hetchy

Food

There are not many options for food in Yosemite Valley itself but here are a few of the fine dining spots I have been to.

Mountain Room at Yosemite Lodge

Ahwahnee Dining Room

Where to Stay

I am partial to Half Dome Village (used to be Curry Village) or camping but there are also two hotel you could stay at in the valley as well.

Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village)

Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly Ahwahnee)

Private Tours

If you are looking to take the stress out of your planning, we partnered with Yosemite Family Adventures, which is a great local guide company that does a bunch of different tours in Yosemite National Park. I used them once and it was a great experience that you can read about below. I am planning to do another trip with them this summer for fly fishing, hiking, and stargazing. You can read about my time with them below or learn more about all the adventures they offer by clicking here.

Winter Private Tour

Summer Private Tour

FAQ

Where do I get a map?
You will receive a map and a small newspaper with information on the park when you enter. Unless you are planning on going into the backcountry, this should be good enough for most people.

How much does it cost?
Current price is $30 but I always spring for the year pass to all the National Parks which is $80.

How can I avoid the crowds?
I recommend heading up to Glacier Point road for a few hikes during the summer. This area is always less busy than the valley floor. If you are heading to the valley, consider getting there early in the day 8AM - 9AM so you can park and leave a car. Then you can use the shuttle to get around to the different points of interest.

Where can I eat in the park?
There are two fine dining restaurants and then a buffet and pizza place at Half Dome Village. Other than that there is a small grocery store but that is about it for your options in the valley.

Videos

Now it is your turn, what did I leave off this list that you love exploring in Yosemite National Park? Be sure to leave them in the comments so that others can find them as well.

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About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.