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 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 to read more about any of the spots. Be sure to leave your favorites in the comments so I can keep exploring as well.

Hikes in Yosemite Valley

Yosemite is a hiker’s paradise with so many trails it is impossible even to 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
Glen Aulin

Stargazing in Yosemite

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

Yosemite Winter Attractions

Winter is my favorite time to visit Yosemite. Only a quarter of the people that visit in the summer come in the winter, and the snow 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

Yosemite 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
Firefall

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.

Curry Village
Ahwahnee Hotel

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 $35 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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