The ULTIMATE 2 Day YOSEMITE Itinerary
Yosemite National Park is one of the worlds most astonishingly beautiful places. It’s captivating scenery is capable of taking your breath away within seconds. I have dreamed of visiting the stunning National Park for as long as I can remember.
And, Last summer that dream became a reality. I was lucky enough to spend 2 days in Yosemite on my coast to coast road trip with Trek America. I had the opportunity to take in the parks spectacular backdrops and hike some of the world’s most amazing trails.
Today, I would like to share with you guys my 2 day Yosemite itinerary. It will feature stunning view points, hiking opportunities and more. Now, it is certainly not possible to see all of which Yosemite has to offer in just 2 days. Nonetheless, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the parks highlights. Which are sure to have you coming back for more.
Why Should I Visit Yosemite National Park?
First things first, why should Yosemite National Park be on everyone’s bucket list. Well, for starters, it’s AWESOME! Yosemite is one of America’s most famous National Parks. It attracts over 4 million people each year. Most of the parks attractions are open throughout spring, summer and fall with restricted access in the winter time due to snowfall and ice.
The park is located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and is known worldwide for its Gigantic Sequoia Tree’s, Outstanding Backdrops and out of this world hiking trails. People plan trips to Yosemite to see the likes of El Capitan, The Half Dome and Yosemite Waterfalls.
I promise Yosemite National Park will be one of the best places you have ever visited. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip now!
Planning a Trip to Yosemite National Park: Day 1
Planning a short Trip to Yosemite National Park is one hard task. There is so much to see and do it is easy to get confused and a little frustrated. Although, even if you can only spend 2 days or even 1 day in Yosemite National Park it is 100% completely worth it. Just to get a glimpse of how beautiful the park truly is. I hope that this itinerary will help with your planning. And, Ultimately, help you decide the best way to see Yosemite in 2 days.
Please Note that I entered the park via the Tioga Entrance, which slightly affects the order of the itinerary. More information on the parks entrance can be found at the end of the post.
Stop 1: Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park
First on the list for our two days in Yosemite National Park is the gorgeous Tenaya Lake. The Glacier lake is jotted between the Tuolume Meadows and the Yosemite Valley. And is surrounded by an outstanding view of the Sierra granite domes.
It is the perfect location to go for a quick swim and enjoy the lakes captivating beauty. So, come prepared by packing some swim gear and a change of clothes.
Just be warned, the Tenaya lake is FREEEEEZZING but 100% worth it. After all, how many people can tick swimming in Yosemite National Park off their bucket list? Besides, once your body adapts to the cold, it makes for the perfect location for a game of ‘water’ Frisbee.
Once you have soaked in the lakes beauty and had a swim in one of Yosemite’s top swimming spots. Make use of the Lakes Picnic area and have a little snack or lunch depending on the time you arrive.Getting There: I have linked Google maps directions from the Tioga Entrance to Tenaya Lake.
Stop 2: Olmsted Point
The 2nd stop on our first day in Yosemite is Olmsted Point. The view point is a further 5 minute drive from Tenaya Lake. Visitors can walk along the erratic boulders formed by the last glacier in Yosemite.
Olmsted Point is the first view point of our trip, and is the perfect place to put in perspective of just how magnificent Yosemite truly is. Olmsted Point offers beautiful views of the north side of Yosemite’s famous Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon and Tenaya Lake.
I recommend spending a 20 to 30 minutes taking in the views and appreciating the beauty of Yosemite National Park.
Getting There: Directions from Tenaya Lake to Olmsted Point.
Stop 3: Tuolumne Grove Trailhead
Next on our Yosemite Trip is a hike around the Tuolumne Grove Trailhead. This hike is a truly unique experience as it allows us to get up close and personal with the world’s tallest tree’s, the Giant Sequoia’s.
One of the main highlight’s of the trail is the ‘Giant Dead Tunnel Tree‘ (photographed above). The Tunnel was created back in 1878 when a fire broke out and killed the tree. Since then the tunnel has become strikingly popular among tourist and is one of the reasons for the trails popularity.
Another point of interest on the Tuolumne Grove Trailhead is the Fallen Giant Sequoia. It is possible to literally walk through the tree trunk and pop your head out from the middle (as photographed above). I was blown away by this part of the hike.
The Tuolumne Grove Trail is a 2 mile round trip and takes 1.5 to 2.5 hours to complete depending on your fitness level. The walk down to the grove is relatively easy and does not need much hiking experience. However, the way back up includes a 400 feet incline, and can be steep and difficult in places. So, be sure to wear appropriate footwear and bring plenty of water.
Home For the Night
Your accommodation will determined what you do next. Most people stay a little bit away from Yosemite’s Village due to Budget and availability. If you are staying near by, I’d suggest driving around to varies viewpoints and enjoy the outstanding scenery of Yosemite. However, if like me, you have booked outside Yosemite’s village and/or are camping. It is probably best to head home for the night, set up camp and have a nice dinner. After all, day two begins with an early start!
Start Day 2 Off Early & Visit Viewpoints Along the Way
Start off the second day in Yosemite National Park off bright and early.Perhaps, wake for sunrise, have some breakfast, prepare a pre packed lunch and head out for the day.
I suggest starting day 2 in Yosemite off bright and early. Perhaps, wake for sunrise, have some breakfast, prepare a pre packed lunch and head out for the day.
Changes are, no matter where you stay, a scenic drive is involved in order to reach Yosemite’s village. Take full advantage of the scenery and stop off at viewpoints along the way.
The above image is one of my favourites, I loved seeing El Capitan soar before me. I have attached a google maps link the the photo’s location. It was taken on the Southside Drive.
Stop 1: Hiking the Mist Trail at Yosemite National Park
The first and main stop for day 2 in Yosemite is hiking the Mist Trail. The hikes length can vary from 2 to 5 hours depending on how high you decide to climb. The hike can be strenuous at times and a medium to advanced level of fitness is needed to complete it. The trail is easily accessible via the free Yosemite Shuttle Bus (more information on Yosemite transport is available at the end of the post).
A little advanced warning: The trail is called ‘mist trail’ for a reason. It is near impossible to complete the hike without getting sprayed with water from the falls. I did it in Early September when the water volume was low and still managed to get a little wet.
Hiking Mist Trail: What to Expect
The Mist Trail is one of Yosemite’s most popular trails and offers outstanding views of Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls and the Half Dome. There is no denying it, the trail can be challenging at times and involves hiking over 600 steps that are carved into the cliff’s edge. With that being said, the views are truly worth the effort.
About halfway up the staircase, Vernal Falls will start to come into view. It is possible to walk off the staircase trail and towards the waterfall to get a closer look. At the end of the first staircase (top of Vernal Falls) lies and stunning pool with a stunning view of the mighty El Capitan. If fact, I rarely come across this viewpoint online and wonder if it is one of the Mist Trails ‘hidden gems’.
With that being said, it is rather easy to find the pool. Once you reach the top of Vernal Falls, gear slightly to the left through a forestry area. Just pay attention to the safety signs and never enter somewhere that is out of bounds. The pool was my favourite part of the trail and is the ideal location to stop for some lunch.
The hike continues towards Nevada Falls and then the Half Dome. The hike up to Nevada Falls is of the same difficulty and is rather enjoyable. Due to incoming weather, I was unable to proceed further than Nevada Falls and had to turn back. I do believe, the hike up to Half Dome is said to be a lot more difficult and two steel cables are needed to help hikers climb.
Stop 2: Tunnel View
The final stop on our Yosemite Itinerary is none other than the famous ‘Tunnel View’. The iconic viewpoint offers a phenomenal view of the entire Yosemite Valley. As I stood staring out at Tunnel View, I had the ultimate ‘Pinch Me I Dreaming Moment’. The beautiful scenery look my breath away.
The viewpoint is so iconic that apple used it as a screen saver for the macbooks Yosemite OS X update.
Yosemite Itinerary 2 Days Map
I hope the above itinerary will come in handy for those of you planning a 2 day visit to Yosemite National Park. I have embedded a map below of all the mentioned attractions to make organising your trip that little bit easier.
Check Out My 60 Second Video of my Yosemite 2 Day Trip Down Below
Tours to Yosemite National Park
As mentioned in the intro of this post, I visited Yosemite as part of a US coast to coast road trip with Trek America. This was a group tour and one of the best experiences of my life. If you can I’d 100% recommend booking a trek.
Now, I understand that most people can not dedicate a month of their lives to travel through 13 sates but if you do hope to visit Yosemite in a short period of time, perhaps a group tour is the way to do it. Check out some options down below.
Tips for Visiting Yosemite National Park
Ok, so now that we have determined What to See in Yosemite in 2 Days. It’s time to look at ways of getting around the National park. Yosemite has two main roads, the Southside Drive and Northside Drive. Both roads connect together to form a loop around the park.
Generally speaking, a car is needed to navigate from your accommodation to Yosemite Valley. However, once you reach the valley, a free shuttle bus service is available, helping visitors reach the parks main attractions.
Yosemite’s Free Shuttle Bus Service
The transport around Yosemite is amazing. There are two main bus services that transport guests around the park, the Yosemite Valley Shuttle and the EL Capitan Shuttle.
The Yosemite Valley Shuttle loops around the main areas of the park stopping near some trailheads, shops and accommodations. The service operates all year round 7am to 10pm. The El Capitan runs by the four mile trailhead, El Capitan and Yosemite Valley Visitor Centre. I runs from mid-June to October from 9 am to 5 pm.
Other services include Maripose Grove Shuttle, Badger Ski Pass Area, Glacier Point Tour and Tuolumne Meadow’s Shuttle. More info on Yosemite’s bus service can be found on the official National Park Website.
Entering Yosemite National Park
Yosemite has a total of 5 entrances, the Hetch Hetchy Entrance, the Big Oak Flat Entrance, the Arch Rock Entrance, the South Entrance and Tioga Pass Entrance.
I entered the park through the Tioga Road. This determined the order in which I visited some of Yosemite’s top attractions. If you plan on visiting the park from a different entrance the itinerary can be adapted accordingly to accommodate your route.
The Tioga Entrance is ideal for those driving from Lake Tahoe (like me), Las Vegas or Death Valley. Just be mindful that the wait time into the park can be long. So, don’t forget to prepare a banger road trip playlist to keep you entertained.
Related Post: What to pack for a road trip
It is important to note that many of Yosemite trails are high up. Meaning they are a long way from the ground. Please, always take into consideration the danger of a situation before committing to it.
Thank you for Reading!
Thank you all for reading hope this 2 day Yosemite Itinerary is helpful and I hope you have an amazing trip to Yosemite National Park.
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