Yosemite Day Trip – Our Favorite National Park

Yosemite Day Trip – Our Favorite. 

Yosemite….what can I say.  Our very favorite National Park (so far).  We’re fond of many of the parks in Utah also and have many others to see in the near future.  Yosemite National Park has some of the most iconic rock formations which are postcard views seen everywhere in print, but to see them in person is a is awe-inspiring, and never tiring. The park also has some of the most beautiful waterfalls anywhere, and genuinely fantastic hiking trails for all different activity levels.

We decided not to do any of the hikes this trip.  For those who have never visited the park, we highly recommend the “Mist Trail” as your first hike, which after a bit winds right next to “Vernal Falls” and when the waters are flowing you will get a refreshing mist while your hiking.  It’s great in the summer, but a little frosty in the fall!


Difficulty Distance Elevation Gain
Bridalveil Fall Trail Easy

0.5 mi / 0.8 km (round trip)

80 ft / 24 m
Lower Yosemite Fall Trail Easy 1 mi / 1.6 km (entire loop) 50 ft / 15 m
Cook’s Meadow Loop Easy 1 mi / 1.6 km (entire loop) Flat
Mirror Lake Loop Easy to Moderate 2 mi / 3.2 km (lake & back)

5 mi / 8 km (entire loop)

100 ft (to lake)

200 ft (loop)

Valley Loop Trail Moderate 6.5 mi / 10.5 km (half loop)

13 mi / 20.9 km (full loop)

Mostly flat
Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall Trails Moderate to Strenuous 1.6 mi-8 mi /

2.5 km-13 km (round trip)

400 ft to 2000 ft

120 m to 600 m

Yosemite Falls Trail Moderate to Strenuous 2.0 mi / 3.2 km (round trip)

7.2 mi / 11.6 km (round trip)

1000 ft / 328 m

2700 ft / 825 m

Snow Creek Trail Strenuous 9.4 mi / 15.1 km (round trip) 2700 ft / 825 m
Four Mile Trail Strenuous 4.8 mi / 7.7 km (one way) 3200 ft / 975 m
Half Dome Trail Strenuous 14 mi-16.4 mi /

22.4 km-26.2 km (round trip)

4800 ft / 1475 m



El Capitan


Our trip started early in the morning because it’s about 4.5 hours southeast from where we are staying. The drive alone is a wonderful experience.  Going through the central valley and Sierra foothills of California is always a beautiful drive.  Passing the various produce farms, almond groves, cattle ranches, and vineyards with the sun shining and warm breezes making for a terrific trip.  You don’t even notice the hours passing by.

Leaf Peeping
img_1858It was more crowded than we had expected but I guess we weren’t alone in wanting to do some “leaf peeping”.  Yosemite Valley is a great location to see the show. We meandered to the different elevations and took the loop around the valley floor which made for quite a fantastic color show. Unfortunately, we were limited on time so we stayed in the valley. We love Tioga Pass and the various high sierra lakes but they had just closed for the winter that day…Bummer.

The rock climbers that we spoke to told us that even though El Capitan was too slippery they were all just as happy to use some of the other locations and routes to get some climbing in.  So glad to see so many families, photographers, and lots of the area native wildlife out strolling. The valley deer are so accustomed to people, they are just everywhere. Some folks get a little too close to them. Bambi will still kick your butt if you intrude on her feeding.


Ahwahnee Hotel

img_1869This lodge was built in 1926 “to bring people of influence and wealth to the National Park year round”.  It was built with steel, concrete, and granite to reduce the vulnerability to fire.  The exterior is actually made out of concrete stained to look like redwood.  The contractor was not allowed to take any of his building materials from within Yosemite National Park so the entire 150,000 square-foot lodge had to be built by bringing the materials in over very primitive roads to the site every day of the week. Natural resources were, and still are, protected.  It has been referred to as one of the most remarkable accomplishments in California automotive history.  We’ve been at the park quite a few times and had never learned about that until this trip.

The lodge has recently been renamed to the Yosemite Hotel due to some legal trademark issues with the previous management company, Delaware North, but we were told that the original name and history will all be restored soon.

Ahwahnee Dining Room


While we were wandering around the area we looked into a couple of the surrounding RV parks that were close by.  There is a gorgeous Thousand Trails facility just outside of the park that is nicely tucked away from the main road.  Beautiful sites right on a river with plenty of room between you and your neighbors.  If you can’t get into the actual National Park it serves as a great location right next door.  There are no hookup sites inside Yosemite Park (except for the host location) so if that is something you need while visiting the area, the Yosemite Lakes RV Resort in Groveland is a good alternative.

Merced River


After a full day of adventure, it was time to get back to our little home in the woods.  It started to rain on our way back but it was ok because we had just finished a beautiful day in a gorgeous National Park with unbelievable colors, great meals and wonderful memories of the seasons changing in the mountains of California.

Yosemite Falls


The one big takeaway from this trip was no matter how many times we’ve visited the park there has always been something new to see and learn. I Guess we’ll need to go back another 10 times in the near future.



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