Suggested Activities For Your Yosemite Stay
These are the activities we take our family and best friends to see and do when they visit us in Yosemite. And we enjoy each of these right along with them, every time. Everything on this list is so great that you just might see us out doing it without guests. If you have special interests, make sure to let us know, as we are sure we have some ideas just for you.
Drive to Glacier Point for sunrise or sunset — the views of Half Dome and waterfalls are amazing! We are located less than 2 miles from the turnoff to this magnificent site. Along with the lookout itself, with its great views of Half Dome and the Valley below, fantastic hiking along the road offers trips short and long. Please note this road is closed seasonally. In the winter, the road is open to pedestrian (ski and snowshoe) traffic beyond Badger Pass. In the shoulder seasons between summer and winter, when there is snow on the road, the road can be closed to all traffic. Check status at the NPS website .
Hike to Dewey Point (8 miles roundtrip). Year-round options for a wilderness experience and great views, our favorite time to enjoy Dewey Point is winter, when we reach the point on skis (snowshoes are an option also). We have enjoyed many lunch breaks at the point with the view all to ourselves- a rarity in Yosemite but still possible to find. The view is just as grand as the snow melts away. As this hike is along the Glacier Point road, access is dictated by Glacier Point Road status (open to driving, open to pedestrians, or closed).
Hike to Sentinel Dome (2 miles roundtrip). Great views and a summit reward for a short hike. This is one of the great hikes just along the Glacier Point road and is easily combined with your visit to Glacier Point. Access is dictated by Glacier Point Road status (open to driving, open to pedestrians, or closed).
Wawona Pioneer Area
Visit the Wawona Pioneer area and historic hotel complex. Walk around Wawona Meadow Loop. On the weekends in high season, you may find demonstrations of some of the pioneer ways. We especially enjoy passing through the covered bridge, and also imagining those who enjoyed Yosemite before us. This area is open 24 hours a day year-round.
Mountain Room Restaurant
Eat dinner at the Mountain Room restaurant in Yosemite Lodge area, Yosemite Valley. Check out our blog post on this topic to find out why this is our most recommended dining experience. Open for dinner only.
Valley Tram Tour
Ride the Valley Tram Tour, which leaves from Yosemite Lodge. Most of the season, this tour is offered in a green open tram, which we affectionately call “The Green Dragon”. Countless times while high on El Capitan, we hear the distant sounds of guided tour, and sometimes, even from over 1000 feet above we can make out the words. This is a great way to see the Valley without driving and really be able to stretch your neck and look up up up, while a National Park Service ranger gives you detailed and accurate information about the sights around you. In colder months the tour is run from an enclosed bus. An interesting option to this great experience- the full moon ride!
Picnic in El Capitan Meadow
Picnic in El Capitan meadow; bring binoculars to watch climbers. The “El Cap Lieback”. Park near the El Cap Cross intersection, which connects Northside and Southside drives, or take the park shuttle bus. We bring a blanket or mat, food and drink. If you really want to track the climbers, in addition to binoculars consider a climbing guidebook, like Chris MacNamara’s Yosemite Big Walls. Go BIG! with a telescope, or stop by the Ranger’s telescope interpretative area, running from May-October in the mid-day.
Rent Bicycles Curry Village
Rent bicycles at Curry Village (aka Half Dome Village) or Yosemite Lodge and ride around the Valley. We prefer riding on the non-roadways, including the many walk/ride paths around the Valley and behind the Ahwahnee Hotel area (aka Majestic).
Sunday Brunch Buffet
Sunday brunch buffet (all you can eat) at the Ahwahnee Hotel (aka Majestic). Approx $50 per person well spent. Weekday breakfast is also very good — smaller selection for breakfast buffet but lower price too. Just a reminder that BREAKFAST at the Ahwahnee is one of our top picks, as well as the special events (Taste of Yosemite, Great Grape Celebration) and not other meals.
Rafting in El Portal
Rafting in El Portal with Zephyr, on the Merced River. We also love Valley “floating” rafting. Check Zephyr’s website for seasons and trips. We prefer the Merced River trips for adventure and proximity to the park.
Yosemite Mountaineering School
Climb or take a class with Yosemite Mountaineering School. Best guides in the sport – the school is coming up on 50 years of operation in the most hallowed and classic rock climbing area in the US. The Mountaineering School also has excellent day hiking and backpacking guides. They specialize in getting you out doing new things.
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
This is one of our top five picks. The grove is generally accessible year-round, and offers a shuttle straight to the welcome center in high season, or access for pedestrians on foot in the winter and shoulder seasons. This is a great activity for your arrival or departure day if you are using the South Gate park entrance.