California Travel – Things to See and Do at Yosemite National Park

Oma H. Barnett

The Yosemite region in east-central California is known for its spectacular panoramas, massive granite cliffs, mountain vistas and historical communities. Yosemite Park offers exciting destinations with about 750,000 acres of land and thousands of ponds and lakes.

It also has 800 miles of hiking trails and 1600 miles of streams. The park is a 6 hour drive from Los Angeles and about 4.5 hours drive from San Francisco.

The Yosemite Valley is well known for its cliffs, meadows, rock formations and waterfalls. The Half Dome granite monolith is one of the mountain attractions, appearing like a giant dome stone that splits in half. The vertical face of El Capitan is also famous among climbers.

Yosemite Falls is the most impressive and considered the highest fall in the world. Other accessible falls in Yosemite Valley are the Bridalveil, Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall.

Tunnel View is another standpoint that gives a full view of the valley located at the western end of Wawona tunnel.

The Crane Flat is an amazing meadow and forest found 16 miles from Yosemite Valley. Sites nearby are the Tuolumne and Giant Sequoias Merced Groves.

Glacier Point is located just 30 miles from Yosemite Valley. It overlooks the valley and the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. Both cross-country and downhill skiing is available at Badger Pass during mid-December to early April. It also overlooks the Washburn Point. It gives a great view of the southern side of the Yosemite Valley in just half a mile before Glacier Point.

Hetch Hetchy Valley has scenery that usually starts up as a point of many trails. Hiking is advisable during spring and early summer. The road through the valley is open year round but with restricted hours. It is however closed during winter and spring.

Tuolumne Meadows is an open-alpine meadow surrounded by domes, peaks and the Tuolumne River. This area is available for snowshoes or skis from November through May or early June. Visitors can explore the meadows through Dog Lake trailhead for 15 miles.

Wawona is the place for Wawona Hotel, Pioneer Yosemite History Center of historic buildings and the Mariposa Grove.

Yosemite is great for those who love outdoor adventure. It has over 800 miles of trails for hiking. No permits are required for hikers who want a day hike to its many trails and footpaths along the valley. Some trails are easy but some are more tiring such as the sheer granite walls. Hikers may also encounter switchbacks, steep terrain and changing rapid weather conditions.

Backpackers can access the Glacier Point road towards trails in the Clark range as well as the parks along the southern part. Tuolumne Meadows also offers 8 different trailheads.

The Chilnualna Falls and Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias are popular day hikes at Wawona.

Yosemite Valley also offers stunning rock climbing activities being about 3,000 feet tall and having vertical faces. The Tuolumne Meadows is also famous for its high elevation rock climbing. The Yosemite Mountaineering School guides have been assisting visitors since 1969, showcasing an AMGA certificate.

One can also go horseback riding. Again, Tuolumne Meadows and Wawona offer commercial horse-riding at DNC Parks and Resorts, along with custom guided trips.

For those who love skiing, try it in Badger Pass. Their cross-country and downhill trails are about 350 miles. The tracks and skating lanes are connected from Badger Pass to Glacier Point. It is open during December and closed on April.

For backpacking, Little Yosemite Valley is one of the most famous sites. It is 4 miles from the Yosemite Valley floor along Merced River.

Lastly, Yosemite has 13 campgrounds, all with forest canopies and rooms. Campgrounds are available at Crane Flat, Wawona, Hodgdon Meadow and half of Tuolumne Meadows. Camping reservations are made from April to September.

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