Yosemite In Two Days (including Mariposa Grove)
Updated: Mar 4
"It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter."
There were many places yet unseen on my bucket list for California before we headed to Australia so although I had limited time I decided to get in the car and head to Yosemite which was #1 on my list.
I only had two days to visit Yosemite and I didn't really have a plan. I just knew I wanted to see what I could without rushing. I am sure it would be possible to see more of Yosemite than I did in the time I had but I knew I would want to soak in every minute and have time to take photographs (250 to be exact!).
The drive from San Diego to the hotel in Oakhurst just outside of Yosemite 6 hours. I left at 6 a.m., arrived by noon, stopped at the visitor center and then had a quick lunch. Since I didn't have the whole day left, I chose to visit Mariposa Grove which is at the southernmost part of Yosemite 25 minutes from Oakhurst. I actually spent the rest of the day there hiking the trails before heading back to the hotel.
The giant Sequoia tree above left is known as "Old Grizzly", estimated to be between 1900 and 2400 years old. It is nearly 30 feet in diameter at the base and more than 90 feet circumference.
I included the photo of the cut out Sequoia on the right to provide some perspective of just how big these trees are since it is difficult to appreciate in a photograph.
These four giant Sequoias share the same root system and are referred to as the Bachelor and Three Graces.
Mariposa Grove has several loops and trails ranging from .3 miles to 7 miles. Take the 7 mile loop trail to the top of the Mariposa Grove and you will arrive at Wawona Point Overlook for panoramic views of the Grove.
Up the next morning very early, I had breakfast and drove straight to the South Entrance of Yosemite.
The drive is long and winding but on the way I stopped on a dirt shoulder to get a closer look at this view. I love the light, the shadows, and the soft, muted colors of this scene.
Below is Glacier Point overlook, one of my first stops. If you go to Yosemite, don't miss it for a view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and the High Sierra. This is an amazing panoramic view.
Glacier Point is 3,214 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley with an elevation of 7,214 feet.
Above is a close up view of Half Dome which has an elevation of 8,844 feet. Clouds Rest is behind it.
Above left is Sentinel Dome and the photo on the right is the climb to the top from the base of the Dome. The trail is about 2 miles round trip (gradual uphill) from the beginning of the trail when you get to this point. It was a warm day and I remember debating if I would climb to the top after the hike but I am so glad I did! Be sure and make that climb - the views are breathtaking! To the west is Yosemite Valley and beyond to the Merced River canyon, to the north Yosemite Valley including El Capitan and Yosemite Falls, and to the east Nevada Falls, Half Dome and Clouds Rest.
Photo below is looking down at Half Dome from the top of Sentinel Dome. Have you ever felt like you were on top of the world?
Experience this if you can - it's not just the view - it's the sound of silence, a place of peace, nature at its best.
I sat for a long time at this point at the foot of the smaller tree on the right which is just at the bottom of Sentinel Dome. It was very quiet and the only sounds were of a light wind blowing through the mountains and the birds singing.
El Capitan Vista. Park here for easy hiking trails to Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite's most photographed waterfall.
Bridalveil Fall is usually first waterfall seen when entering Yosemite Valley. These photos were taken in September when flow is low.
On the left is the Valley view - when the water is at its peak in spring and early summer, expect to get wet!
On the right is a view of Bridalveil Fall from Glacier Point.
Tunnel View - if you enter Yosemite Valley from the south, Tunnel View is directly east of the Wawona Tunnel. This will be your first view after exiting this long, dark tunnel. El Capitan is on the left and Half Dome can be seen far back on the right. You will not be in a hurry to leave this place!
This is a close up of the Tunnel View from the Valley with the southwest face of El Capitan on left, Half Dome on the right in the middle.
Tunnel View from the Valley floor along the Merced River located along one-way Northside Drive on your way out of Yosemite Valley.
There is so much to see at Yosemite. I arrived early in the morning and stayed until dark. I was happy that I was able to visit as many spots as I did, although I would have liked to go further north to see Tuolumne Meadow, Tioga Pass, and Hetch Hetchy. I think one more day would have allowed the time but probably 4 days would be ideal. Next time I would try to book very early and stay in the Valley which would mean minimal driving time and easy access.
Yosemite is 747,956 acres - not sure anyone could ever see it all but the beauty of it is the views change with the time of day, the weather, and the seasons - you could visit many times and it might look different each time. Early September was a good time to be there (I left right after Labor Day) because it was still warm, the falls were still flowing (although minimal) and it was not too crowded. If I could choose a time of year for my next visit, I would go in the Spring when the snow is gone, falls are roaring, and the summer crowds have not yet begun.
If you are planning to visit Yosemite, be sure and reach out to Yosemite National Park (yosemite.com and nps.gov) for detailed information. They will help you plan and offer suggestions for lodging, camping, restaurants, hiking, tours, and things to do in the area.
There is a Visitor Center is located in Wawona as well as the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center in the Yosemite Valley.
If you have questions for me about my visit to Yosemite, please e mail. I will be happy to help!