Two days in Yosemite National Park (day 2)

What can you do in Yosemite National Park in two days? The activities I can suggest you doing, are the same I actually did when I visited Yosemite:

  1. Hike 1: Top of Yosemite Falls Trail
  2. Hike 2: Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall Trails
  3. Hike 3: Lower Yosemite Fall Trail
  4. Hike 4: Tuolumne Grove Trail
  5. View Point: Glacier Point

During the first day I hiked the Top of Yosemite Fall Trail (Here you can read about my first day in Yosemite). The second day I did all the other activities.

So, let’s start talking about the second day in Yosemite from the moment my flat tire was already fixed (here you can read what happened during the day 1 in Yosemite).  So, at 11am of my second day in Yosemite, I decided to hike Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall Trails, which are also called the giant staircase (I’m wondering why they are called in this way ;p ).

Vernal Fall
The giant staircase to Vernal Fall

This hike brings you really close to the waterfall, and what I enjoyed the most was the view of the many rainbows which are created because of the water splashing at the bottom of the waterfall.

Vernal Fall
Rainbow at the bottom of Vernal Fall

The first stop during the hike is the Vernal Fall footbridge, from which the Vernal Fall is visible. This part of the hike takes about 1 hour and the elevation gain is not huge (120m), thus the difficulty is moderate. After the footbridge, the hike difficulty increases (the difficulty is strenuous according to the website), and you can reach the top of Vernal Fall going up a steep granite stairway. The stairway can be quite slippery because of the waterfall spray, and you will get completely wet for the same reason. So, be prepared! The view of the valley from the top of the fall is just astonishing.

Valley view from the top of Vernal Fall
Valley view from the top of Vernal Fall

On top of the fall, it is possible to rest and chill-out by the river in the shadows of trees.

Top of Vernal Fall
Top of Vernal Fall

At this point, it is possible to continue uphill to the top of Nevada Fall. However I was behind schedule, so I decided to turn around and head back the way I came. After the hike, I had a delicious pizza at the half dome village and then I thought to go to Mariposa Grove to see Giant Sequoias. But, surprise surprise, I forgot to turn off the lights of my car so the battery was dead. I spent some time before to find someone who could help me with a fast jump, but in the end, I managed to reanimate my car and I was ready to start exploring again. However, I was super late on my timetable, thus I changed my plans and decided to hike the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail first, and then go up to watch the sunset from the Glacier Point. The Lower Yosemite Fall Trail is an easy short hike of about 30 minutes, but it is still very nice because it allows to walk to the base of the lower fall and watch the Yosemite Falls in its entirety.

Lower Yosemite Fall Trail
Lower Yosemite Fall Trail

I was there in August, and I must say I was quite lucky to see them because this waterfall can be dry from late July through October. After this short hike, I took the car again and drove all the way up until the Glacier Point. This drive takes about 1 hour. From the Glacier Point, all Yosemite Valley is visible, with the Half Dome dominating the scene.

Glacier Point
Glacier Point

Up there it was extremely windy and chill, but the view was breathtaking.

View from Glacier Point
View from Glacier Point

And the sunset was even better than the day before.

Sunset at Yosemite Valley
Sunset at Yosemite Valley

So at the end of the day, I managed to do two hikes and go up to the Glacier Point despite the unexpected events which obliged me to change my plans. However, when I arrived at the resort, I was not entirely satisfied. I really wanted to see the giant sequoia. So, I remembered that during my lunch a couple suggested me to visit the Tuolumne Grove instead of Mariposa because Mariposa Grove is very far away from Yosemite Valley. So I checked the location of Tuolumne Grove and I realised it was very close to the resort where I was (30 minutes driving). So I decided to go the next morning before to continue my road trip toward Lake Tahoe. So, I woke up at 6 in the morning and I hiked the Tuolumne Grove Trails during the sunrise.

Sunrise at Tuolumne Grove
Sunrise at Tuolumne Grove

What a moment! I was the only one in the grove and I was completely surrounded just by nature. The hike is very easy, and it takes less than 1 hour. There are some huge trees on the trail sides, which are smaller than the one that it is possible to find in Mariposa Grove, but they are still quite spectacular. I put myself in the picture to show the actual dimensions of the tree.


The hiking path is the “Old Big Oak Flat Road”, which was one of the earliest tourist routes into Yosemite Valley. To attract tourists a big hole in the Dead Giant was augured in 1878, and you can still pass through it. As you can see I was pretty happy to be there alone 🙂


And this was the end of my 2 days (and few hours) in Yosemite. If you are more organised (and lucky) then me you can definitely hike the Tuolumne Grove during the second day and so be able to do the same activities I did in just 2 days. What additional activities do you suggest to do in this amazing national park?

Here you can see more posts about my trip in California.

If you want to know more about my all 7-day road trip in Northern California, click here.

Author: Giusi

Travel is life!

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