TRANSPORTATION: YARTS from the Bug into the Valley and Amtrak are up and running and they avoid the vehicle pass requirement. The free Valley Shuttle bus is up and running. Park in the Valley and use it on busy days. If you drive into the Park you will need a vehicle pass from May 20 to September 30, 2022 in addition to paying entry fee. See Recreation.gov.
FOOD: Get trail lunches from the June Bug Cafe to take with you for the adventure days out, there’s always take out for breakfast too at 7AM.
FIRST DAY YOSEMITE VALLEY: Sightseeing, Hiking, Waterfalls, Viewpoints In Yosemite Valley
Valley Loop Drive for sightseeing: Half day. About 1 hour + bus ride around. Try to make the Tunnel View just a bit south on Highway 41 (or better to avoid the crowds and park along the road on the left hand lot). You will want to walk and see Lower Yosemite Falls if you are traveling with children or elderly or pets. Remember you can also stroll at least part of the stunning Valley Loop Trail instead!
Upper Yosemite Falls Hike: Park at Camp 4 and take the switch back up to Columbia Rock for a lunch with a view. Go further to see the impressive Upper Yosemite Falls close up. The falls are running high now through June.
Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls: You can easily walk from Half Dome Village Parking Lot or Hiker’s Lot beyond it. Take the Mist Trail up and John Muir Trail back down if you go up to Nevada Falls. You can take children and dogs just to the bridge on a paved trail for a view of Vernal Falls.
Mirror Lake and Snow Creek Trail: Mirror Lake appears really to be a lake in spring. Take the Mirror Lake Loop Trail for a couple of hours under the impressive Half Dome reflection. Consider going up the Snow Creek Falls Trail at the end of the canyon for impressive views of Half Dome and Cloud’s Rest on the way up.
SOUTH OF YOSEMITE VALLEY: Sightseeing, Historical, Skiing, Overlook Point. Use this route going south to LA.
Glacier Point Road: Closed this summer for road work. If you would like to go to Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome for a 5+ hour day with a 3000’ elevation gain, take the Four Mile trail fro Yosemite Valley, take lunch and exalt in the lack of people and fine views. Or continue the Panoramic Trail loop from Glacier Point down to Vernal Falls making it a 9 hour day with all the goodies you should carry.
Mariposa Sequoia Grove: Make a quick work of the Lower Grove for 3 hours with massive trees as good as any in Sequoia Natl Park. Or do the fine Upper Grove and Wawona Point Overlook in 5+ hours. Galen Clark’s Cabin is super cool and so are you in this shady grove.
Wawona Covered Bridge & Pioneer Center: The bridge is 150 years old! The assembly of the historical cabins from the first superintendent’s cabin to the Wells Fargo cabin do excite. After May 20th they should have stage coach rides. You can go past the South Entrance to do the Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad as well.
THIRD DAY NORTHERN YOSEMITE: Waterfalls, Sequoia Groves, Lake Views, Hiking, Snowshoeing. Use this route going out to San Francisco:
Merced Sequoia Grove is further to the right past the Crane Flat gas station and is an easy mile in and out. A couple handfuls of big trees but quieter.
Tuolumne Sequoia Grove is a bit more packed with people and two miles R/T on the old stagecoach road. Take a right past the Crane Flat gas station and then a quarter mile.
Hetch Hetchy Valley: Hetch Hetchy is a reservoir that serves San Francisco, but the lake and waterfalls against the cliffs are spectacular. Park near and walk across the dam and through the tunnel for the easy trail along the south facing sunny shore to view the three waterfalls! Later in the summer it is a hot walk.
FOURTH DAY AROUND MARIPOSA: Merced River, Historical Interest, Hiking, Bicycling and Food.
At The Bug: Take the two hour Bug Loop trail in the daytime. It can be very difficult, slippery, wet, steep and narrow. Look for the green diamond marker directionals on the trees every 30 feet about 7 feet up and at intersections. Red markers are trails back to the lodge. The blue marker is a short cut halving the walk. The colored arrows all start at the Amphitheater.
Merced River Wild and Scenic Area: From Briceburg Bridge upstream there is a single track trail for dogs or Mountain Bikes. You can also mountain bike or dirt bike up the Burma Grade going up right there or cycle downstream on the dirt road (5 miles each way) but go at dawn.
Mariposa Old Gold Town & Museums: Go to the Yosemite Climbing Museum just before the first stop sign on the left for sure! Shop along the old 1850’s era block and see the Old Jail and the oldest operating western Courthouse. The Mariposa History Museum takes you back to the Gold Rush, whereas the California State Gem and Mineral Museum at the Mariposa Fairgrounds shows what was dug up here and the rest of California. Goings on around weekends at the bars and saloons in town, too. Do some road bicycling on the Old Toll Road from Bear Valley to Hornitos for some fun!
FIFTH DAY INTO THE HIGH SIERRA: Hiking, Overlook Points, Swimming, Lakes, Domes.
Olmstead Point and Tenaya Lake: Super fun scrambling granite or swimming in the lake. Incredible views at both areas near each other. You may hike around the Tenaya Lake or hike from Olmstead down to a closer view behind Half Dome.
Lembert Dome or Pothole Dome: Pothole Dome is the first left five parking spaces once in Tuolumne Meadows and is great for families. Incredibly, has great views for little work. Lembert Dome is just across the first Tuolumne River Bridge and looms up from the parking lot there. Hike around it and stop at Dog Lake for a swim and veer right at the crest and go to the top for exceptional High Sierra views.
Elizabeth Lake or Cathedrals Lake: The former is great for a family day, or just taking it easy without too many humans. The latter is busy, but Cathedral Dome is lordly, the lakes are swimming heaven and the views just past them down into Yosemite Valley are enlightening.
Mono Lake: This makes for a long, long day of driving if you are coming back our way, but is also worth the time going through to Las Vegas. Lee Vining has coffee and food, but take the time to see the North or South Tufa formations at the lake. Further north is the fantastic Bodie Ghost Town. Further south are the moonlike Mono Craters formations.