How to Spend 1 Day in Yosemite National Park
Soaring peaks, waterfalls, and sheer cliffs make Yosemite National Park a scenic wonderland. The valley's compact size means you can take in key highlights even in limited time; opt for express hiking or sightseeing tours to cover more sights in less time. Here’s how best to spend 24 hours in Yosemite.
Morning: Gaze at Glacier Point
The view from Glacier Point is the classic Yosemite calendar shot and is not to be missed. On typical Yosemite sightseeing tours, this is the first stop as the viewpoint offers you the chance to capture dramatic photos of the landscape. A paved, wheelchair accessible trail continues from the Glacier Point parking area to the viewpoint while the steeper Four Mile Trail links Glacier Point with the Yosemite Valley; some tours offer the option to complete the popular hike and meet your tour vehicle at the bottom.
Afternoon: Into Yosemite Valley
Carved by glaciers and immortalized by photographer Ansel Adams, Yosemite Valley is home to some of the park’s most recognizable sights, which include Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and Bridalveil Fall. Spend the afternoon exploring Yosemite Valley on a guided or independent hike, a photography tour, or a scientist-led nature walk. Hiking tours range from leisurely strolls to steep hikes up the sides of the valley, and ensure you don’t lose you way. Among the less-strenuous options are Bridalveil Fall, Lower Yosemite Falls, and the Vernal Fall Footbridge; if you’re looking for a bigger challenge, try the Mist Trail, Nevada Fall, or Yosemite Falls Trail.
Evening: Half-Dome Sunset Shots
Late-evening light works colorful magic on Yosemite’s rock faces, with Half Dome looking especially dramatic. Plan ahead to position yourself for photographing the landmark; among the best places for shooting Yosemite at sunset are Glacier Point, Lower Yosemite Falls trailhead, Sentinel Bridge, and Curry Village. If you’re determined to capture the perfect shot, photography tours ensure you get the perfect position, choose the right lens, and find the best light for each destination. Tours typically include hotel pickup and drop-off to save you finding you way back in the dark.