TRANSPORTATION: The Park is open 8am to 5pm daily. The free Shuttle Bus in Yosemite Valley is still down. YARTS from the Bug into the Valley and Amtrak are still up and running.
FOOD: Get trail lunches from the June Bug Cafe to take with you for the day since nearly all services will be closed.
FIRST DAY YOSEMITE VALLEY: Sightseeing, Hiking, Waterfalls & Overlook Point 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 park along the road on the left hand lot and take the Old Inspiration Trail up and away). You will want to walk and see Bridalveil Falls and Lower Yosemite Falls if you are traveling with children or elderly or pets. Remember you can also stroll at least part of the Valley Loop Trail instead of all of the above!
Upper Yosemite Falls Hike: Park at Camp 4 and take the switch backs up to Columbia Rock for a lunch with a view. Go further until too snowy to see the impressive Upper Yosemite Falls close up. Possible it will have a snow cone at the bottom on cold days. It’s a south facing warmer and sunny hike.
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 (if it is open) and the John Muir Trail down. 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 right now and will diminish through the summer. 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 and at the point near the top of the rim.
SECOND DAY SOUTHERN YOSEMITE: Waterfalls, Sequoia Grove, Hiking, XC Skiing, Snowshoeing, and Historical Interest. Use this route going out to Los Angeles:
Badger Pass Snow Play: So Badger Pass Ski Area’s Cross Country Ski lot is open! Great for snow play for families, snowshoeing to Dewey Point, XC Skiing to Dewey Point or Glacier Point. The road will not be groomed so be wary of warmer temperatures. There are no services or rental at Badger Pass.
Mariposa Sequoia Grove: We recommend doing this as a day outing. This big Sequoia Grove is worthy of all of your attention with the trophy tree littered Lower Grove and the impressive full Upper Grove with a look out at the top over Wawona and the High Sierra. Catch it after a snowstorm and cross country ski or snowshoe up. The road is usually closed in the winter or after 6am so that adds two miles each way to the trek but you will be rewarded with solitude.
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. The stagecoach rides start Memorial Day. See the elusive Chilnualna Falls nearby with a three hour hike.
THIRD DAY WHOLE DAY NORTHERN YOSEMITE: Waterfalls, Sequoia Groves and Lake, Hiking. Use this route going out to San Francisco:
Tuolumne Sequoia Grove: This lesser grove is a mile in and a mile out on an old coach road. It may be busy but it’s worth the trek to see the trees. If just after a snowstorm take snowshoes. Merced Sequoia Grove is further out on Highway 120 toward San Francisco and is best done when snowy with cross country skis or snowshoes a mile and a half each way.
Hetch Hetchy Valley: An excellent warmer option for winter, 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!
FORTH 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, slippy, wet, steep and narrow. Look for the green diamond marker directionals on the trees every 20 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 swimming hole is getting slower but listen for the water falls and trail that zig zags down to see anyway. If you get lost head back down to the Bear Creek and look up the taller slope at the Lodge. The arrows all start at the Amphitheater.
Merced River Wild and Scenic Area: From Briceberg 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: 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!