California, Destinations, Experiences, Outdoor

Two days in Yosemite National Park (day 1)

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I know what you are thinking, Yosemite National Park is huge, what can you possibly see in two days? I think you can still see a lot of this beautiful National Park if you know how to manage your time. To do so, first go to the park early in the morning to avoid the endless car line of tourists who start arriving at about 9.00am, then go with a clear idea in mind about the activities you want to do, so you can also avoid waiting to get information from the tourist office located at the entrances of the park. I can give you these tips because I didn’t do any of the things I suggested, so I can learn from your mistakes and share my wisdom with as many people as possible. Nevertheless, I managed to spend two amazing days there, which I extended a little bit going there again before the sunrise of the third day (park pass is valid for 7 days and it costs 30$ for non-commercial car), but if you are more organised than me (and you don’t get a flat tire) you don’t need to do this (although one of the most amazing moments I spent there was the one right before the sunrise).

The activities I did in 2 days, and so the activities that I can suggest you doing, are:

  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, while during the second day I did all the other activities.

But let’s start from the day one. I rented my car with TURO, and I selected Berkley as pickup point to avoid the traffic of San Francisco (here 10 tips about what to do in this city, and also 6 tips to rent a car on TURO). I left Berkeley at 9 in the morning and I arrived at Yosemite around 2 in the afternoon because I stopped for food at a farmer market in Oakdale. As I said I didn’t know what hikes I wanted to do before entering the park, so I stopped at the tourist office which is right after the Yosemite National Park Big Oak Flat Entrance. It was August, but I had autumn clothes on because it was quite cold in San Francisco. First thing I noticed is that the weather in Yosemite is completely different, it was crazy hot. So, first I wore the shorts and the t-shirt I had in my backpack and then I went into the tourist office. The small house which hosts the tourist office was so packed with tourists and so warm, that I immediately needed to go out, so I selected trails I wanted to do by myself. Again: be smarter and more prepared than me. You can find all the information about the park in advance on Yosemite website.

The hike I selected for that day was the Top of Yosemite Falls. According to the website, estimated time for the round trip is about 6-8 hours, and when I started hiking it was already 3.30 in the afternoon. But I thought I could be fast enough to be back in 5 hours, right after the sunset. The hike is not easy (difficulty level is strenuous according to the website), but it is well rewarded with close-up views of Upper Yosemite Fall.

Upper Yosemite Fall
Upper Yosemite Fall

Anyway, after 2 hours and a half hiking, I arrived at the top and I was exhausted. I think it must be a time record. But the view at the top was so beautiful that I quickly forgot about the effort.

On top of Upper Yosemite Fall
On top of Upper Yosemite Fall
View from the top of Upper Yosemite Fall
View from the top of Upper Yosemite Fall

Once at the top of the fall, I couldn’t rest for more than 20 minutes because the sun was setting and I didn’t have a flashlight with me (here another tip for you: ALWAYS bring a flashlight during hikes). On my way down the half dome was pink because it was facing the sun setting down. It was spectacular.

Half Dome at sunset
Half Dome at sunset

After some pictures at sunset, I started to rush because I really couldn’t see anything. But I was lucky enough to meet other tourists on my way and I joined them (and their flashlights). After this hike, I took my car and drove to my accommodation for the night. I stayed at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort, which is super close to the Yosemite National Park Big Oak Flat Entrance. It is just next to the last gas station available before to enter the park. Gas is more expensive inside the park, so better you stop there if you need fuel. The next morning I woke up at 7 full of energy and ready for another day hiking. But there was a surprise for me: a beautiful flat tire. So, I went to the gas station to ask if they could help me in some way and they opened the phone book and gave me the number of the Tire Shop, which is sited in Gloveland, and it is the closest mechanical to Yosemite. I think I haven’t seen someone using a phone book in years, but around Yosemite, there is no phone reception, so people still use the landline, which is weird and nice at the same time. It looks like you are back in time of 10 years. Here there is the number of the tire shop, in case you need it too (I hope you don’t).


Anyway, I needed to go to the mechanic and so I needed to mount my spare tyre to get there. So I opened the hood and I realised I didn’t have a jack, this is why I wrote 6 tips to rent a car with TURO. Long story short, I managed to borrow a jack from a family in the resort and I went to the Tire Shop to repair my tire. After all this, I was back at Yosemite at around 11am.

Click here to know what happened during the second day at Yosemite.

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.




23 thoughts on “Two days in Yosemite National Park (day 1)”

  1. If you liked Yosemite NP you should go see Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland. Lauterbrunnen valley was formed the same way as YNP, by glaciers. It’s GORGEOUS with the same high, vertical walls.

      1. I hope you enjoy it! Personally I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. It almost looks like a fake backdrop. There is a great little sand path that you can walk the length of the whole valley. When we were there we saw a bunch of BASE jumpers flying in the air and landing. The valley is well known for BASE jumping. If you have extra time I would recommend riding the tram (train) up to the Jungfraujoch! It’s beautiful too 🙂
        Enjoy 🙂

  2. Beautiful pics! And I agree with time management in all things; if you’re intentional about all you do, you’ll be able to do what you set out to do! We have a 4 year old so he slows us down a bit but we don’t let that stop us from getting out there!!

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