4 routes in Yosemite National Park that you should not miss


We have been three times in Yosemite, in different years and seasons. From our experience we have compiled 4 routes in Yosemite National Park that are essential, for different types of fitness and all of them in the Yosemite Valley, the main place of the whole national park. However, the park is huge but surely if we visit Yosemite once, the valley will undoubtedly be our chosen destination.

Routes in Yosemite National Park- Nevada Fall

4 routes in Yosemite National Park - California

Yosemite is immense. So big that it would take us hours to travel the entire car. In spite of its extension, the vast majority of its visitors gather in a single point, the Yosemite Valley. Place where the Captain, Half Dome and a large number of idyllic waterfalls, such as Nevada or Upper Yosemite fall.

Routes in Yosemite National Park

As we do not have all the time in the world to visit the entire park, we have compiled 4 different routes and in different locations in or near the valley. Accessible to all types of public, since they do not require any technical knowledge, but although it is true some of them require you a good physical condition if you do not want to end up broken.

1 Upper Yosemite Fall and Yosemite Point

A demanding route on a physical level and that I recommend doing first thing in the morning (8AM). In this way we avoid the heat and the large influx of public, very given to start the route from 10 in the morning onwards.

LengthSlopeEstimated timeDifficulty

The route starts from the camp 4, near Yosemite Village. From there in an endless zigzag that reaches the base of the Upper Yosemite Fall, from where there is a magnificent view of the waterfall and the valley itself. It is the most beautiful point of the waterfall, so if you go bad weather, I recommend you to go around unless your goal is Yosemite Point.

Routes in Yosemite National Park

Continuing the path and again through a zigzag, we overcome the 1000 meters of unevenness until we find the upper fall viewpoint. Above, a little more than a mile away is the Yosemite Point, one of the best views of the Half Dome of the whole park.

More information at: On the road through Yosemite Falls Trail and Yosemite point

Route to take in the morning

2 Vernal and Nevada Falls

Perhaps the star excursion of Yosemite National park. Two waterfalls that are wonderful and a landscape that surprises us every moment. Also, if our physical condition is not very good, we can reach Vernal fail and turn around.

LengthSlopeEstimated timeDifficulty

It starts from the campground of Upper pins and it is recommended to do it in the morning, which is when the sun best illuminates the waterfalls. The road has no loss, we just have to follow the crowd. It is also done in a circular and one way way.

Routes in Yosemite National Park - Vernal fall

More information in the article on Vernal and Nevada Falls.

Route to take in the morning

3 Taft point and Sentinel Dome

Taking the road that ends at Glacier Point, there are several routes of different difficulty levels. We recommend going to the Taft point from the parking lot that is 4 kilometers from the Glacier point, specifically where the Taft Point trailhead. From there and there are less than 3 kilometers is the Taft point, from my point of view the best views of the Captain.

LengthSlopeEstimated timeDifficulty
9.5km408m3 / 4hLow

From Taft point we can go to the Sentinel Dome, a rock top that has unbeatable views of the Half Dome and the valley that overlooks the Mirror lake. Ideally, reach the top by the variant that is attached to the edge of the mountain due to the good views of the Upper Yosemite Fall.

Routes in Yosemite National Park

More information at: Route through Taft point and Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park

Route to take in the afternoon

4 Mirror lake

Of the 4 routes mentioned, this is the easiest of all. With a minimum slope and an average length. Ideal to do it with children or for people with low physical condition.

LengthSlopeEstimated timeDifficulty
12.5km150m2 / 3hLow

Be part of the campground of lower pinnes and it is a circular cutting path. You start by climbing the river on your left side until you reach the Mirror lake and another set of lakes, then return on the other side of the river. This route is advisable to do it in the afternoon, to see the mountain reflected in the lake and the illuminated Half Dome wall.

Routes in Yosemite National Park - Mirror lake

Route to take in the afternoon

More information on the website of the Yosemite National Park and in our article What to see in Yosemite National Park.

Practical data

Before leaving for the United States

  • United States Planet's Guide
  • Airport Transfers
  • Car rental in USA with a 15% discount
  • The best excursions in the United States

When to visit Yosemite National Park?

Since the beginning of May the road to Glacier Point is usually open. Therefore, to make this route it is strictly necessary that the road is open.

The routes from the Yosemite Valley are very hard

The answer is a NO resounding There are for all levels and most are excellently documented so that nobody gets a surprise. If we have to talk about some demanding route, these would be the one that goes up to the Upper Yosemite Fall and from there to Yosemite Point or surroundings.

What does it cost to enter Yosemite National Park

The cost of access to Yosemite National Park is 30$ and is billed per vehicle. This pass is valid for 7 consecutive days.

How to get to Yosemite National Park

The ideal is to arrive by car to travel it to our pleasure. Even so, there is a free internal bus service and some public transport option to arrive from cities like San Francisco. Here for example you can take a bus to Merced withAmtrak and from there another to Yosemite.

Where to sleep?

Be careful with this point because we can take a dislike. Yosemite is the most visited national park in the United States, so staying here can be a headache if we don't book months in advance. In my case, I tried to book a cabin a month and a half in advance and it was impossible, with the tent being the only option, or going to a hotel in Butterfly an hour from the valley, since he was not willing to pay for a room the chilling amount of 300$

Outside Yosemite you can also sleep in the portal, just 5 minutes from the entrance. Prices are generally high and their occupancy high.

He camping It is the most economical option and without a doubt the one that will best integrate us with the park. To reserve a place just go to theYosemite National Park website. and its cost is usually 26$ by store However there is a camping series that no reservation required and access is only cut once they are filled. These campsites are:

  • Camp 4 : Located at the base of the captain and ideal for climbing. Located in the Yosemite Valley.
  • Bridalveil creek : closed in winter to be located on the road that goes up to the Glacier Point view.
  • Tamarack Flat / White Wold / Porcupine Flat / Tuolumne Meadows : located on the Tioga road, therefore closed for much of the year.
  • Yosemite view lodge: hotel of great proportions at the gates of Yosemite. Despite its size it is recommended to book.

If we camp for free on a multi-day route, we must take a permit that costs about 5$.

Another option is the cabins, which are really large tents with a multitude of amenities, many of them optional such as TV, heating, ..., etc. for a higher cost than 100$ night.

And of course, there is always the hotel option, mainly in Yosemite Village But the prices are really high.

Guided tours to Yosemite

If we don't have time we can always opt for a guided tour to Yosemite where we will see the main points.

Yosemite excursion

Other fantastic places near San Francisco?

  • Hiking through Pinnacles National Park : route through the national park closest to the city.
  • Muir Woods : the closest redwood forest visited from San Francisco.
  • Whale Watching in Monterrey.
  • Alcatraz Island in San Francisco.
  • Big Basin Redwoods : If Muir woods fell short, this is your place.
  • Lake Tahoe and Mount Tallac

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