Visit Yosemite in 2 days

Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains is renowned worldwide for the beauty and diversity of its landscapes: towering granite cliffs, powerful waterfalls, giant sequoias, and so much more.  

It is the third-largest park in California, welcoming more than 4 million visitors every year. So it is essential to plan your visit well. 

Find out what not to miss in 2 days, during your California road trip
 

Day 1


Morning

yosemite national park map
Map of the morning activities

Good morning! 

This morning you head for the legendary Yosemite Valley, inside one of the top 5 parks in the American West!

Take the famous Tioga Road to get there, a scenic route that crosses the northern section of the park. 

It is the highest trans-Sierra route in California, and passes through forests, lakes and alpine meadows.  

visit yosemite tioga road
Tioga Road

Tioga Road has many turnouts offering spectacular mountain vistas.

There are several places where you can park your vehicle on the side of the road. Take the time to stop as many times as you like to admire the different views.

Be sure not to miss:
 

#1. MONO LAKE

visit yosemite mono lake
Mono Lake

Located about ten kilometres east of Tioga Pass, Mono Lake is an ancient salt lake that is almost 3 times as salty as the ocean

Volcanic in origin, it is known for its calcium carbonate formations known as tufa towers that rise above the surface of the water, creating a unique landscape with the mountains in the background.   
 

#2. OLMSTED POINT 

visit yosemite olmsted point
Olmsted Point

To reach this (absolutely must-see) viewpoint requires a short 10-minute walk along a rocky path.  

Incredible panoramic views of Yosemite Valley, with Half Dome in the distance, await you.  
 

#3. TENAYA LAKE 

visit yosemite 2 days teneya lake
Teneya Lake

On a clear day when the sun shines off the blue waters of the lake, this small mountain lake is simply breathtaking!  

It's a great place to stop for a picnic before continuing your route.  
 

#4. TUOLUMNE MEADOWS

visit yosemite 2 days tuolumne meadows
Tuolumne Meadows

The Tuolumne River winds its way lazily through subalpine meadows, surrounded by majestic granite peaks and domes.  

It's the perfect place to stretch your legs while enjoying the fresh mountain air. Be on the lookout, as the area is home to a lot of wildlife.  

 

Afternoon

Map of Yosemite hikes
Map of the afternoon activities

The afternoon is devoted to exploring the Yosemite Valley, where the park's most famous attractions are to be found. 

As you will be arriving in the afternoon, expect to see a large number of visitors

Give yourselves enough time to get from one point to another, depending on the traffic, and above all, be considerate.  
 

#1. Glacier Point

visit yosemite 2 days glacier point
Glacier Point

Head for Glacier Point, a lookout that is accessible by car and offers a commanding view of the peaks of Yosemite. Many consider this to be the most beautiful view in the park.  

Among others, you will see the massive Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls.  

visit yosemite 2 days glacier road
Glacier Road

Allow one hour to reach Glacier Point from the valley. 

Be careful, because although it is wide, the road is rather winding.  
 

#2. Tunnel View

visit yosemite 2 days tunnel view
Tunnel View

Continue to Tunnel View, the most iconic view in Yosemite National View. 

To the left, you will see El Capitan, one of the largest granite monoliths in the world and a legend in the climbing world.

To the right, Bridalveil Falls spill from an enchanting hanging canyon, while Half Dome looms in the background. 

photo spots in Yosemite
View from Tunnel View

Most of the best-known photos of Yosemite were taken here. Now is your chance to take some of your own. ;)
 

#3. Mariposa Grove

visit yosemite 2 days mariposa grove
Mariposa Grove

Located in the southern portion of Yosemite, Mariposa Grove is the largest grove of giant sequoias in the park.  

They are not the largest California sequoias, but it's a must if you don't have time to visit Sequoia National Park, one of the often forgotten parks in the West during your California itinerary

Several short trails wind through the forest, offering a close look at impressive specimens, including the oldest sequoia in the park, known as Grizzly Giant. It is an estimated 1800 years old

Less than 45 metres from Grizzly Giant is California Tunnel Tree, through which a tunnel was carved in the late 19th century.  

  • Distance: 2,5 kilometres (round-trip) 
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Elevation gain: 122 metres 
  • Level: Intermediate 
  • Trailhead: At the end of the parking area 
     

Be sure to have at least 2 hours ahead of you before starting the hike to California Tunnel Tree.  

 

Day 2 (long hike version)  
 

Morning and afternoon


Good morning! 

If you are good hikers, spend the day exploring Yosemite Falls with a hike along Upper Yosemite Falls Trail.

Yosemite Falls is actually a series of three falls, Upper Yosemite Fall, Middle Cascades and Lower Yosemite Fall, which, taken together, form one of the tallest waterfalls in North America

visit yosemite 2 days upper falls
Upper Falls

The hike to the top of the falls is quite strenuous. It climbs steadily, and there are few sections of the trail where you can catch your breath. 

1.5 km from the trailhead, stop at Columbia Rock to take in the view. You will be able to see three of the park's star attractions: Sentinel Rock, Sentinel Dome and Glacier Point

  • Distance: 11.6 kilometres (round-trip) 
  • Time: 6 to 8 hours
  • Elevation gain: 820 metres 
  • Level: Difficult 
  • Trailhead: Camp 4 - Shuttle stop #7 
     

Keep in mind that in the summer, the water levels may be quite low. While the falls may be less impressive, the challenge is worth it for the amazing views of the valley from an altitude of 739 metres.  

To reach the trailhead, park in the visitor parking and take the free park shuttle.

Be sure to arrive very early to get a parking space.  

 

Day 2 (short hikes/family version)  
 

Morning


Get an early start this morning to secure a parking spot, and take the shuttle to the Mist Trail, which leads to the top of Vernal Falls.

The trail follows the Merced River and includes 600 granite steps. When water levels are high, the mist from the waterfall can make the steps very slippery

visit yosemite 2 days mist trail vernal falls
Vernal Falls

There are a few steep climbs to reach the top, but the view is well worth the effort! 

If you are travelling with children or are less physically inclined, note that it is possible to turn back at any time

  • Distance: 4.8 kilometres (round-trip) 
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Elevation gain: 300 metres 
  • Level: Difficult 
  • Trailhead: Happy Isles - Shuttle stop #16 

In fact, you can shorten the hike by going to the scenic Vernal Falls Footbridge

visit yosemite 2 days vernal falls sentier
Vernal Falls

The footbridge offers a gorgeous view of the waterfall and the Merced River.  

  • Distance: 2.6 kilometres (round-trip) :famille: emoji
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Elevation gain: 120 metres 
  • Level: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Happy Isles - Shuttle stop #16 
     

It's the perfect hike if you're travelling with young children, or if you're less physically fit. 
 

Afternoon


This afternoon, head for Mirror lake

A paved road leads straight there from the shuttle stop.  

visit yosemite 2 days mirror lake
Mirro Lake

When the water level is high, the lake resembles a mirror, offering beautiful reflections of the surrounding scenery.  

Take the time to relax in this gorgeous spot!

  • Distance: 3.2 kilometres (round-trip) :famille: emoji
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Elevation gain: None
  • Level: Easy – paved trail 
  • Trailhead: Shuttle stop #17 
     

Be careful, the road is also accessible to vehicles with a disability placard or license plate vignette.

Ask a park warden about the water level of the lake.  


If you're tired of walking after your climb to Vernal Falls, spend a relaxing afternoon.  

The park offers many short, easy trails, including the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail, near the Yosemite Village Visitor Center. 

visit yosemite 2 days lower falls
Lower Falls

The trail offers spectacular scenery and leads to the base of Yosemite Falls

  • Distance: 1.7 kilometres (round-trip) :famille: emoji
  • Time: 45 minutes 
  • Elevation gain: None
  • Level: Easy – paved trail
  • Trailhead: Shuttle stop #6 
     

Note that the falls are less impressive, and may even be dry, from early August. Ask a park warden about water levels.  

 

Where to eat

visit yosemite 2 days where to eat
Where to eat in Yosemite ?

There are a few restaurants in Yosemite Valley, but keep in mind that you will often be traveling by shuttle or hiking.

It may not always be easy to coordinate travel, activities, tourist traffic and your appetite!


:manger: emoji PICNIC

The easiest and most enjoyable option is to bring picnics, that you can eat when and where you like, in the heart of nature.  

If you don't have time to go grocery shopping, note that the Village Store carries some useful items for preparing a picnic lunch.  


:manger: emoji DEGNAN'S KITCHEN

  • Open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
     

Snack bar type restaurant. Serves deli sandwiches, salads, artisan pizza, breakfast to go, coffee and other beverages, baked goods, etc.  


:manger: emoji THE  LOFT AT DEGNANS

  • Open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays
     

Loft style restaurant with service above Degnan’s Kitchen. Serves Mexican and Asian fare as well as artisan pizza. There is also a wide selection of sakes, cocktails, wine and beer.  

Several TV screens show sports and other entertainment programs.  

To see the menu, click here


:manger: emoji VILLAGE GRILL DECK

  • Open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., from late March until mid-October
     

Fast food restaurant. Serves grilled sandwiches, hamburgers, hotdogs and a few vegetarian options.  

Outdoor seating is available.  


:manger: emoji BASE CAMP EATERY

  • Open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
     

Located just across the street from the Yosemite Valley Lodge and formerly known as the Food Court, Base Camp Eatery has undergone extensive renovations. 

Cafeteria style with an extremely varied menu that uses local ingredients. You will find hot meals, grilled meats, fast food, salads and more.  

It's the perfect choice if you're travelling in a group, and offers excellent value for money

You will also find a Starbucks cafe, for a typically American experience. ;)

 

And there you go! 

There are so many great things to see and do in Yosemite National Park that this itinerary could easily be modified.  

If you have any questions and/or comments, or special requests, don't hesitate to leave them in the comments below.  

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