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The Best Things to do in Yosemite

There’s nothing in Yosemite but its raw beauty and outdoor activities for you to enjoy. Find out the top 10 places to check out.

There are many things to do when visiting Yosemite National Park. You can relax, test your endurance, take amazing photographs, and even interact with native wildlife.

But just like any other national park, there are a couple of sights and experiences you can’t afford to miss out on during your trip. Here are some of them.

#1 – Visit Yosemite Falls

Checking out this amazing waterfall is one of the best things to do in Yosemite. Watch the water tumbling down a massive granite wall – it’s the centerpiece of the picturesque scenery in that rather large swath of Yosemite.

You can admire the waterfall from numerous angles. However, the two best viewing spots are at the start of the Yosemite Falls hike and the Swing Bridge picnic site. 

If you want, you can also get to the base of the fall without having to go on a trek.

#2 – Have a Picnic at El Capitan

This particular rock is one of the most popular Yosemite attractions. 

El Capitan is a massive cliff located on the valley’s left side. When seen up close, it becomes clear that nothing in the area towers over it. You’ll also have access to a popular picnic area near El Capitan. Of course, the 3,000-foot cliff is also famous among professional rock climbers. 

Here’s an interesting fact about El Capitan: In 2017, Alex Honnold climbed the ridge for the first time without ropes. That endeavor lasted just under four hours.

#3 – Go Camping

It’s an ideal way to experience the area and take on a bunch of hikes. In fact, camping is one of the top things to do in Yosemite.

You’ll find that the best campsites are the North, Upper, and Lower Pines. But if you’re an avid climber, Camp 4 is a much better choice since it has you close to some of the best climbing spots.

#4 – Check Out the Yosemite Museum

Sure, most people go to Yosemite to gaze at all the natural beauty. That said, the region has a rich history despite being inhabited for thousands of years.

While at the park, visit the Yosemite Museum. It offers a variety of artifacts, demonstrations, and stories about the first people in the valley. 

You can also see some of the native architecture behind the museum. There you’ll find bark-covered structures and some early Euro-American-type buildings. 

The free entrance is an added incentive to check it out.

#5 – See Postcard-Worthy Sights from Tunnel View

This is where you can see the most iconic view of Yosemite Valley. Tunnel View is a popular vista that offers the best views in the afternoon when the cliffs are bathed in sunlight.

From this point, you can see many of the park’s best features: Half Dome, El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and the lush valley.

#6 – Take Your Pick of Hikes

Hiking is definitely among the top things to do in Yosemite. In fact, various trails featuring different elevations and difficulty levels  await you. You can find some wheelchair-accessible routes, too.

Hardcore hikers often choose the multi-day trails that cover most of the park. But know that it’s hard to escape the crowds in some areas. 

The hike to Half Dome is perhaps the most exciting due to its high elevation gain and cable section. But if you want to see amazing scenery, the hikes to Mirror Lakes and Vernal Fall Footbridge will keep you satisfied. However, these can get quickly crowded since they are family-friendly trails of little difficulty. 

If you want the less traveled hikes, those around Tioga Road are your best bet. Also, don’t dismiss the Sentinel Dome hike if you want an awe-inspiring sunset trail. 

These examples show just a tiny sample of the hundreds of routes available in Yosemite Park.

#7 – Visit Bridalveil Fall

It’s an iconic Yosemite sight, one that you can see in all its glory from Tunnel View. Fortunately, reaching the Bridalveil Fall on foot is easy enough that you have no reason to miss it.

Located in the southern region of Yosemite Valley, the waterfall has a short trail that lends easy access to the base. You can get close enough to let the tumbling water spray you when it crashes on the bottom rocks.

#8 – Travel the Tioga Road

A trip on the Tioga Road part of Highway 120 is one of the best things to do in Yosemite. It offers unique alpine scenery, a wide range of hikes, views of pristine lakes, and blooming open meadows.

However, this jaw-dropping location is only available during the summer. The high elevation of 9,945 feet is what prevents the road from staying open in the winter. 

For the best views, you’ll get it at Olmsted Point.

#9 – Climbing at Half Dome

There isn’t a professional climber who hasn’t heard of Yosemite’s Half Dome. 

Taking the Mirror Lake hike is the easiest way to get up close to the massive rock formation. Meanwhile, Tunnel View also provides a glimpse of the wall in the distance. However, the best vantage point is the Glacier Point lookout.

You can hike Half Dome anytime you feel adventurous, although it’s preferable to do so when you have some experience and appropriate gear. What’s great is that the later stage of the hike brings you to the backside of the wall, which is a really unique sight.

#10 – Rent a Bike to Explore the Park

When in Yosemite, you can stop at Curry Village and rent a bike to explore the park in a different way. It’s also one of the fun things to do with kids in Yosemite.

A paved service road that will lead you to Mirror Lake is an excellent choice for bikers. Know that you have other roads to choose from, with some more challenging than others. 

 In total, the park has around 12 miles of paved tracks. 

Don’t Forget Your Yosemite Map

There’s so much to see and do when visiting Yosemite. That’s why it’s best to have an updated map with you so as to not get lost or waste time trying to get to a specific location.

If you’re into the great outdoors, then a trip to Yosemite might turn out to be your dream vacation.

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