Yosemite Roadtrip Itinerary - 2 days
There is no way that you can do a roadtrip through California and not stop by to check out Yosemite Valley and the surrounding areas. It is a must! In our van trip, we drove across from Sacramento to Yosemite and stayed for 2 nights. I think I could spent a lifetime there and not run out of adventures to do and new places to explore. There is so much! Of course, a lot of it is hiking, but there are less strenuous hikes/walks that are just as beautiful. Here is what we did:
We arrived by van and immediately drove straight to Tunnel View. They call it Tunnel View because, guess what, you drive through a tunnel that feels like it’s never going to end, and suddenly the view expands to encompass a full 180-degree panorama of the stunning landscape. This was a great spot to get an overall view of a big section of the park without hiking or walking too far. We parked in the lot and got out immediately to explore. In the image below you can see Horsetail Fall on the left, Half Dome in the centre and Bridalveil Falls on the right.
While we were there, a natural phenomenon was taking place because of the mist from Bridalveil Falls. As we arrived, we could just see a hint of red coming from the bottom of the falls, but we stayed to watch. Slowly, a rainbow crept up from the falls and eventually all the colours were visible! It was a really cool sight to witness.
We got back in to our van and drove down to the Falls to check it out up close. This walk was about 20 minutes with no elevation gain (perfect!). The mist was wet of course, but it would be very refreshing on a hot summer day in Yosemite. It was nothing compared to the hike we did the following day: the Mist Trail!
We checked in to Housekeeping Camp and immediately put our items into a bear bin provided. This included all food, items that look like food, toiletries, and literally everything that had a smell. We went in to Half Dome Village for dinner and got some rest for the next day.
We woke up in decent time, packed a lunch and began hiking the Mist Trail. There is ample parking at the trailhead so that is where we kept the van for the day. The mist trail starts off on an incline and only gets steeper. It was about 2-3 hours of uphill hiking once we got to the top of Vernal Falls. It was definitely worth it! The mist from the falls felt great on tired legs. We relaxed at the top of the falls and took some pictures of the stunning view before putting our damp jackets back on and continuing uphill. We slowly walked for another 30 minutes uphill before the decent down the John Muir trail began. At the top of the John Muir Trail, you could see a humbling view of Nevada Falls feeding in to Vernal Falls, and then rushing down towards the valley below. So incredible!
We reached the bottom of the trail and with shaking legs (me at least!) hopped back in the van. It was perfect to take a break at this point, so we checked in to our next campsite for the night: Upper Pines. *Finding camping spots for this trip was challenging, so check out the information below to find out how I found some sites.*
From Upper Pines campground, we got on the free Yosemite Shuttle and checked out Lower Yosemite Falls. This was a perfect, easy walk that was a great cool-down before dinner at our campsite.
Our last day! We made breakfast and packed up our campsite early in order to head out through the Sonora Pass en route to Mammoth Lakes. Tioga Road (the 120) had not been opened yet for the season (it usually opens in early-mid June), so we had to take an alternate route. Make sure to keep an eye out for road closures when you visit! If we had time, I would have loved to do the Mirror Lake hike, which was about 5-6km. I’ll have to go back, I guess!
Upcamp. This app saved us. Basically, you enter in the dates that you would like to have a campsite for, and the app monitors if any campsites have opened up. It will send you a notification if a site has opened up and you can book it instantly from the app!
This running bag from amazon with water bladder. The water bladder was nice to have so that I didn’t have to worry about finding my water bottle. The bag also has a convenient pocket for your phone, and another pocket at the back for snacks/Tylenol/anything else you need to take with you!
Nalgene bottle. I kept this one with me at all times with a little carabiner that I could hook on my bag just in case my water bladder ran out of water.
Click here to check out my travel toiletry essentials!