Things to do
Yosemite is Vast!
Here are some specific suggestions to see and do:
- Yosemite Valley, the center of the Park is where you will find many of the water falls as well as the dramatic granite cliffs, including Half Dome and El Capitan.
- Glacier Point has a dramatic view overlooking Yosemite Valley. The Glacier Point road is generally open May through October. If so, this is an amazing view point overlooking Yosemite Valley. If it's not open, or if you are inclined for some strenuous exercise, you can do it on foot. It's a great hike about 9 miles round trip.
- Giant Sequoia Groves: Of the three groves in Yosemite, the main one, Mariposa Grove is located at the south entrance to the park, about an hour and a half drive from us, has about 500 mature trees, and because you can drive right to the grove there are usually hundreds of people. The parking is limited and it is best to take the free shuttle from the Wawona Store where there is plenty of parking. However there are two other lovely groves. The trail heads are just 10 to 15 miles from us, with the same amazing giant Sequoias, but only a handful of them. You have to hike 2 or 3 miles round trip to get to these groves and consequently there are far fewer visitors. The short hike to either of these groves, the Tuolumne, or the Merced Grove, is highly recommended.
- The high country, Highway 120 east- Tioga Pass Road (generally open Memorial Day, ‘till the snow flies’ in October/November): White Wolf, Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows, & Tioga Pass. This drive takes you up through and above tree line where the vast expanse of the Sierra really opens up. The views are spectacular! Summer hiking in this region is outstanding!
- Winter, early spring, and the fall are great times to visit the Hetch Hetchy area of Yosemite, and it is just 20 miles from us. It is a valley like Yosemite Valley, with the granite cliffs and waterfalls, but was dammed at the turn of the last century. It is a beautiful area, particularly appealing in the spring with the waterfalls and wildflowers, as well as the fall with beautiful autumn colors. And since it is a little out of the way, it is not nearly as 'touristy' as Yosemite Valley.
- Hiking: There are many great hikes inside the Park, and a few in our surrounding area.
- Some of the short hikes in Yosemite Valley, including Vernal Falls and Mirror Lake are great, and extremely popular! A short walk, well worth the 10 minutes, is to the base of Yosemite Falls. To avoid the crowds in Yosemite Valley, avoid the Village areas at the east end of the Valley and instead park in a pull out along the side of the road and walk out into a meadow or down to the river. You will leave the majority of tourists behind.
- In the summer time, the high country, specifically Tuolumne Meadows and the Tioga Pass region are ideal for hiking as it is always a little cooler at the higher elevations, and the majority of the crowds are far behind in Yosemite Valley. Just to name a few; Cathedral Lakes, Gaylor Lakes, Lyell Canyon, and Dog Lake are all terrific hikes, with minimal crowds. A few hikes on the way up to the Tuolumne region include Hardin Lake and May Lake/Mount Hoffman. There are also some great, short hikes along the Glacier Point Road including Taft Point, & Sentinel Dome. A little longer, lovely hike is to Dewy Point.
- Even closer to Sunset Inn, drive about 2 miles to the South Fork of the Tuolumne River on Evergreen Road and you can either walk about ¼ mile downstream for a lovely swimming hole, or go upstream to Carlon Falls, a great hike about 2 or 3 miles round trip!
- For further advance planning, you might check out the book: 'Moon Handbook- Yosemite', by Ann Marie Brown. You may be able to get this at your local library. It is such a comprehensive guide to the Park that we keep a copy in each of our cabins for your use.