One Day in Yosemite – Yosemite 1 Day Itinerary

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Yosemite National Park covers a 1200 sq. miles area. Blessings of natural beauties in Yosemite make it a paradise for all nature lovers. Located at northern California’s Sierra Nevada mountain, here you can enjoy outdoor nature activities like hiking, climbing mountains, horseback riding, river rafting, in summers and snow skiing, snowboarding in winter. It is one of the most visited national parks in the USA and is famous for granite monoliths like Half Dome and Capitan. Therefore there are many must-see places in Yosemite National Park in 1 day. Read this post to know more about places to see in Yosemite by car or the best things to do in Yosemite with the best one-day itinerary. Let’s check about one day in Yosemite.

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One Day in Yosemite - Things to do in Yosemite

One Day in Yosemite – Must visit places – Things To Do in Yosemite National Park.

The Tioga Pass Entrance to Yosemite National Park is the most beautiful and highest one. This entrance is closed in winter. There are other entrances too.  If you are driving on your own then you can cover most of the things in Yosemite in one day by car.

One Day in Yosemite - Things to do in Yosemite

Nearest International Airport – San Francisco & San Jose

Best Time to Visit – All seasons but check road closures or forest fire information before planning. Skii lovers love winter but if you want to enjoy waterfalls, river rafting, meadows, clear sky, and star gazing then Spring to summer is the best time. Fall in Yosemite is also best time to see fall colors.

Check road closures and other information about Yosemite national park on their official website.

One Day in Yosemite - Yosemite 1 day itinerary

One Day in Yosemite – Must visit places – Things To Do in Yosemite National Park.

 

 

RECOMMENDED STOP-OVERS IN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK VIA TIOGA PASS 120  

Lembert Dome – One Day in Yosemite

One Day in Yosemite - Yosemite 1 day itinerary

Lembert Dome is a granite dome rock formation in Yosemite National Park, California. The height of this dome is 800 feet (240 m) above Tuolumne Meadows and the Tuolumne River. It is located in the heart of Tuolumne Meadows, 8 miles (13 km) west of the Tioga Pass Entrance to Yosemite National Park. It is the first official stop starting from the Tioga gate entrance.

Hiking Level – Difficult as you are climbing a mountain. Take proper gear and go with experts or do it yourself if you know mountain hiking.

Parking – Many slots near the trailhead also the same for Dog Lake Trail

Best Time to Visit: – Yosemite 1 Day Itinerary

Pleasant anytime Tioga Road is open (June through October, usually), but best of all, early when the meadows are green.

Tuolumne River 

One Day in Yosemite - Yosemite 1 day itinerary

Enjoy the beautiful Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park with the fantastic backdrop of granite rocks, clear water, and green meadows all around. The Tuolumne River flows for 149 miles (240 km) through Central California and 59 Miles across Yosemite National Park. It creates a series of canyons through the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains range and therefore forms a beautiful vista point in Yosemite. 

Activities – You can swim in the river but beware of boulders, water temperature, and other things. 

Parking – As it passes on the foothill of the Lembert dome, you can park in the parking slot for the Lembert dome.

Best time to Visit – If you want to do water activity, then spring to summer is the best time to feel the water and green meadows all around. 

Tuolumne Meadows

Best places to visit in Yosemite in one day

Tuolumne Meadows is a large, open subalpine meadow with beautiful Tuolumne River passing across and surrounded by granite monolith peaks and domes. It is the third stop from the Tioga Pass entrance. The Tioga Road offers a 47-mile scenic drive between Crane Flat and Tioga Pass through forests and meadows, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, and granite domes. In between, stop at many turnouts that offer broad and beautiful vistas. The Tioga Road is open approximately late May or June through October or November. In winter, the Tioga road entrance gets closed due to heavy snowfall. 

Activities – Summer/Fall activities like Camping, fishing, bird watching, picnicking, stargazing, water activities, and nature photography. Winter activities include snow tubing, skiing, and backpacking.

Best Time to Visit – Summers for enjoying green meadows and winding rivers. It is an excellent place for skiing during winter. In winter, you can access Tuolumne Meadows via cross-country skis.

Parking – There is ample parking near the sides of the road. Check for vacant slots and park safely. 

Tenaya Lake – Things to do in Yosemite National Park 

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite by car

Tenaya Lake is a gorgeous place to visit in Yosemite National park. Tenaya Lake is easily accessible through Tioga Road and is famous for picnicking, swimming, and canoeing. You can also spot Tenaya Lake from Olmsted Point and also when you drive to that point too. Two picnic areas are available here (one is wheelchair accessible). 

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite by car

Tenaya Lake, the most beautiful of all Yosemite’s lakes, is a mile (1.6 km) long. It is bordered on three sides by granite peaks and domes. The reflections of mountains and pine trees in the lake make it the most photogenic place of Yosemite. 

Parking – Small lots at both ends of the lake, with wide shoulders along Tioga Road that are suitable for parking

Activities – Picnicking, hiking, swimming, and canoeing. Nature photographers love this point.

Hiking Level – Hike around the lake loop, 2.5 miles long, and difficultly level is easy. It takes around 1 to 2.5 hours for a complete circle around the lake.

Best Time to Visit – Summer/ Fall to enjoy water activities, and also Tioga road is open during Spring, Summer, and Fall time.

Most of the lakes in Yosemite require hiking and are not directly accessible by road. So Tenaya lake is a popular spot to stop over as it is directly connected with the road and is one of the most Instagrammable spots in Yosemite.

Olmsted Point to view Half Dome Rock

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite by car

Olmsted Point is a famous vista of the northern side of Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon, and Tenaya Lake to the east from Tioga Pass off State Highway 120 in Mariposa County.

Olmsted Point is a must-do stopping point as you through Tioga Pass. It is also known as where clouds rest, and hiking to this point is the most beautiful hike in Yosemite. You can stroll across “erratic” boulders that are staggered around the granite slopes. These giant boulders were left when the last glacier came through.

Parking – There are many at the trailhead. Also, you can park across the shoulders of Tioga Pass.

Activities – Hiking, Photogenic spot, 

Hiking Level – 0.25 miles (0.4 km) round trip and easy level.  

Best Time to Visit – Mostly clear days during Spring, Summer, and Fall. Still, it depends on your interest as some people love winter adventure. But from them, Tioga Road is closed, and they have to come through different entrances.

Bridal-Veil Waterfalls – One Day in Yosemite

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite by car

Falling 620 feet (189 meters), Bridalveil Fall is often the first waterfall you’ll see when entering Yosemite Valley through the Tioga road entrance. Famous for its mist and its shape during falling, it got its name Bridal-veil. It is one of the most enchanting waterfalls and iconic stops at Yosemite National Park. It is the most favorite spot in things to do in Yosemite. 

During Bridal-veil falls trail, you would pass through Bridalveil Creek with a backdrop of stunning meadows, and really, the more of Yosemite Valley. This whole region is genuinely fantastic, and therefore you should include this waterfall in Must see places in Yosemite National Park in 1 day.

TIP – During Spring, the Fall is thunderous due to the falling of melting snow. It continues till early summer.

Parking – Bridal-Veil waterfalls trail head designated parking. Also, there are broad shoulders when you pass along this region, where you can park your car and admire the beauty of this Fall.

Activities – Hiking, Trails, picnic spots, Nature photography. 

Hiking Level – Easy – 1.2 miles (2 km) round trip but can be slippery on many boulders due to falling water, mist, and wet area. So wear proper anti-slip footwear. Also, take ponchos or get ready to wet as you can feel the mist all around. BEWARE OF SLIPPERY ROCKS.

Best Time to Visit – Spring to Summer.

El Capitan

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite by car

El Capitan is the most iconic spot of Yosemite due to its vast structure and surrounding nature. El Capitan is an iconic granite monolith rock that forms a dominating backdrop of the western end of Yosemite Valley. It is 3,000 feet (900+ m) above the valley floor and is 2.5 times as tall as the Empire State Building or more than three times as high as the tip of the Eiffel Tower. It is trendy amongst rock climbers. 

The reflection of El Capitan in the Merced river at its base is the most photogenic spot of Yosemite National Park. Do not miss this post in your Best Yosemite one day itinerary.

Parking – Lots of parking everywhere around the rock on shoulders.

Best Places to see in the El Capitan region – Bridalveil Straight, Tunnel View, & El Cap Meadow

Activities – Camping and picnicking at the base, spot rare species, Wall & rock climbing, Nearby hike and trails, El Capitan’s Firefall Light Show during mid to late February.

 

 

Best Time to Visit – All year-round. El Capitan looks dramatic and unique in each season. 

Merced River – El Portal Point 

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite National Park 1 day itinerary

Starting in Yosemite Valley, you’ll find several highlights along El Portal Road, and one of the most photogenic is Merced river main fork. 

Parking – Many shoulders near the river gorge or El Portal Point.

Activities – swimming in summer, Camping, small hikes, fishing, and picnicking. Lovely nature photogenic spot.

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite National Park 1 day itinerary

Best Time to Visit – all seasons but summer for river rafting.

Yosemite Lower Falls

Yosemite National Park one day itinerary - must visit places

It is the part of North America’s tallest waterfall; Lower Yosemite Fall is the final 320-foot (98-meter) drop.

Parking is available at the Yosemite Village and Yosemite Falls parking areas.

Activities – Nature vista point for nature photography, hikes, camping grounds on base.

Hiking Level – Easy – 1 mile (1.6 km) loop – The trail starts at Begin at Lower Yosemite Fall Trailhead (shuttle stop #6).

Best Time to Visit – Spring to summer, you can see the heavy flow of waterfall dropping down. This waterfall is often dry from late July or August through October.

Yosemite Chapel/Village – Yosemite Souvenir Shop

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite National Park 1 day itinerary

This fairy tale type of chapel is surrounded by spectacular cliffs, beautiful meadows, which have an impressive view of Yosemite Falls. This chapel is the oldest structure in Yosemite Valley. The architecture of this chapel is Carpenter Gothic style.

Parking – Lots of parking on the shoulder and near the shopping village. 

Activities – Wedding in Sierra Nevada mountain range, shopping and eating out in Yosemite village shop, chapel for religious services, view of Lower falls.

Hiking Level – Four Mile trail starts from here.

Best Time to Visit – All year round

Ellery Lake View Point 

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite National Park 1 day itinerary

It is not be missed spot and is located two miles outside the Yosemite National park entrance. There’s no designated trail around Ellery Lake. 

Parking – on its Vista point towards right hand from the exit of Yosemite National Park.

Best Time to Visit – Spring to summer. Tioga road closes during wintertime, so not advisable to go in late Fall and wintertime.

Sunset at Yosemite – Sierra Nevada Mountain Ranges

Sunset at Yosemite National Park - Yosemite in one day

Sunsets of Yosemite sunsets are knowns as some of the best sunsets in the world. The orange-reddish-purplish sky with a backdrop of granite monoliths, waterfalls, rivers, valleys would truly captivate your mind. There are some Sunset vistas in the National park, but you can choose any high point during your hike or trail and spot some of the best sky colors when sunsets. Do not miss the sunset of Yosemite while spending One Day in Yosemite as it is the most beautiful thing to spot here.

Some of the best sunset spots in Yosemite:

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite National Park 1 day itinerary
Glacier Point
  • Sentinel Dome
  • Taft Point
  • Artists Point/Inspiration Point
  • Tunnel View
  • Cook Meadow 
  • Clouds Rest Sunset
  • Mariposa Grove Sunset
  • Firefall Sunset

Parking – Park your car roadside shoulders and hike a little to the little highest point to spot the valley and sky. 

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite National Park 1 day itinerary
Vista points – perfect for viewing Sunset and sunrise

Best Time to Visit – Clear sky is a must to view the beautiful sunset. So check the weather forecast before planning for the evening in Yosemite National Park.

Unique Facts about Yosemite National Park – Best Yosemite One Day itinerary 

· Yosemite is famous for giant Sequoia trees.

· Glaciers formed Yosemite Valley.

· Yosemite is one of the unique places in the world which experiences the Lunar Rainbow “Moonbrow” – rainbows in the nighttime.

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite National Park 1 day itinerary

Where to stay in Yosemite National Park? – One Day In Yosemite

CLICK TO BOOK STAY IN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

There are few options to stay in Yosemite National park, and if you book a stay here, the entry is included with the stay without any extra prior reservations. Check below some of the recommended stays in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite National Park 1 day itinerary

If you are coming through Tioga road to Yosemite National Park, staying at Mammoth Lakes nearby is also a good option. With this, you can explore Mammoth Lake and a small mountain town. You can find many good eateries, musical festivals, hotels, inns, and shopping in Mammoth Lake.

CLICK TO BOOK STAY IN MAMMOTH LAKES

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite National Park 1 day itinerary
My stay at Mammoth Lake – nearby mountain village town

Check some of the best stays in Mammoth lake too. 

Video tour of Mammoth Lake hotel stay near Yosemite National Park

Food options in Yosemite National Park – Things to do in Yosemite – One Day in Yosemite

There are a couple of food options in Yosemite National Park, so better to carry lots of drinks and food with you during hikes and exploring the park, and you may feel hungry and thirsty. Yosemite Curry Village is the spot where you can find many food options. They offer Vegetarian and vegan burgers, wraps too. 

IMPORTANT TIPS FOR PLANNING A YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK TOUR – Things to do in Yosemite

Yosemite in one day - Yosemite National Park 1 day itinerary

  • Check the weather forecast of the planned days before you start.
  • Check all entrance and road closures rules on the official Yosemite National park or National parks of the USA website. After COVID, many times, there are restrictions on crowd and entry policies. 
  • During winter, Tioga road closes, so check for option entrances through the western side. 
  • Choose easy-level hikes if you are a beginner and have no experience in hiking.
  • If you are planning for Camping, take prior permissions, and carry all your camping gear.
  • Ponchos are needed if you are planning to hike near waterfalls.
  • There are lakes and rivers in the park which are open for swimming and fishing but beware of slippery rocks nearby and take all precautions on a wet, watery surface.  Yosemite in one day - Yosemite National Park 1 day itinerary
  • If you get bit by poisonous insects or need any emergency, call for Yosemite park rangers. They are always ready to help you, and you can spot them at many places in their uniforms too. 
  • Drive slow as the drive is mountainous, curvy, and slippery during snow or wet season. While parking on another side, look around for traffic coming from reverse directions. Yosemite by car one day is a beautiful trip if planned wisely in advance.

I hope you loved reading Best Yosemite one day itinerary in this post and would indeed plan your Yosemite National Park trip in your upcoming holidays. These are a few places to see in Yosemite by car and are some of the best things to do in Yosemite. Please share Must see places in Yosemite National Park in one day article with your friends and enjoy your #Californiaroadtrip. 

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7 Comments

  1. Great post and wonderful photos, especially the one with the colourful sunset! I’ve never been to Yosemite but would love to visit one day to see its natural wonders in person. Just have to wait until it’s safe to do so ☺️ thanks for sharing and have a good day ☺️ Aiva

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