Yosemite’s Travel Guide in 5 Hours: Hiking Trails

Travel to Yosemite National Park
Travel to Yosemite National Park

Everyone goes to Yosemite National Park. I do not know why but yes, it is very popular! Sadly, we had lots of changes to our travel plans and were not able to book accommodations in advance or plan it properly. Our original plan was to head to Los Angeles first but there was a potential flash flood and we had to change routes. As such, the extremely high prices and the lack of vacancies left us hanging without any plans or places to stay in.

We did consider sleeping in the tent but the weather at night drops to 4 Degrees Celcius and I am sure we would not be able to withstand the chilly cold. We only had a heater and Sherpa Blankets. It was definitely not enough.

We had no choice but to travel up and down the mountain on the same day. My “smart” sister also did the best thing ever. She did not check properly and booked a hotel that was 5 Hours away from Yosemite National Park. Well, I guess we all make mistakes from time to time.

Just a note if you are going to Yosemite National Park, input into Google maps: Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. This is located near all the main attractions in Yosemite. If you input in Yosemite National Park, it is going to bring you to the Ranger box and that is not where the main park is located in.

Thus, we only had a few hours to go around Yosemite before heading to Lake Tahoe and San Francisco! Well, we were able to get a look around, experience what Yosemite was somewhat about. It was fun!

If you have ever been to any of the National Parks, you would probably be surprised by how differently Yosemite is laid out. Yosemite National Park is surrounded by enormous rocks with an extremely steep slope. It was beautiful, astonishing and uniqur. We have been to so many National Parks but this, really took our breath away.

It was really amazing to witness such steep drops. If only we had the luxury of time, we would probably have hiked up to the highest point to see an unimaginable beauty of nature. That is, if my sister, is willing to hike down such steep steps. Climbing up is always easy but she takes millions of years to hike down! (Okay, not millions of years. Just some extra time to hesitate and then embrace that fear. Haha)

If you are thinking of hiking in a short frame of time, these are the hikes we recommend to see all or most of Yosemite popular sights.

We went to the following hikes; all of which lasted about 30 minutes-1 hour.

Short Hikes in Yosemite National Park

1. Cooks Meadows

If you do not have enough time for the whole of Yosemite. We were told that you could see the main attractions here. It was a plain flat land for walking; perfect for anyone! We could see the Higher Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and many more! Well, this was a little too boring for us. We only walked 1/4 of the entire loop and headed back to the bus for our next stop.

However, if you are someone who loves to experience a slow walk and stroll through the beautiful patches of grass, flowers and be overwhelmed by all the top mountains and popular sights around you, this is definitely a place for you to go!

For us, we prefer places that are challenging. The rest of the sights were more enjoyable for us!

2. Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake at Yosemite National Park
Mirror Lake at Yosemite National Park
Mirror Lake at Yosemite National Park
Mirror Lake at Yosemite National Park

3. Lower Yosemite Falls

Lower Yosemite Falls!
Lower Yosemite Falls!
Lower Yosemite Falls!
Lower Yosemite Falls!

A flat and easy hike could lead you to one of the tallest falls in the world! It’s suitable for all ages, young or old. This is the reason why i like Yosemite, it has activities for all. If you are a handicap, it does not mean you don’t get to see any point of interest in near sight but instead, they do offer some hikes that are gentle enough for handicaps to go and Lower Yosemite Falls is one of them. If you are a thrill seeking, steep droppings long hikes are also available to you in Yosemite such as Half Dome and many more! There are 2 different Falls in Yosemite: Upper Yosemite Falls and Lower Yosemite Falls. The hike up to Upper Yosemite Falls was really long but at the least we managed to catch a glimpse of it from Cooks Meadows!

Upper Yosemite Falls!
Upper Yosemite Falls!

Other Popular Hikes:

1. Half Dome (Strenuous)

Half Dome Yosemite
Half Dome Yosemite

Half Dome is a Yosemite icon. You will need a permit to climb the Half Dome. $10 is charged for submitting the application and an additional $10 is charged when you receive the permit. The 2nd $10 is refundable if you cancel your permit.

The hike for Half Dome is rated strenuous. Be sure to have your backpacking gear and your hiking supplies! It takes approximately about 10-12 hours to and fro so you should prepare your meals beforehand, bring energy bars and drinks! Water is also important.

2. Upper Yosemite Falls

Upper Yosemite Falls
Upper Yosemite Falls

Upper Yosemite Falls Trail takes about 2-3 hours. However, if you wish to hike to the top, it would probably take about 6-8 hours. If you wish to see the falls from afar without hiking, Cooks Meadows would be a place for you! We didn’t have time to hike and this is the view we saw from Cooks Meadows.

3. Nevada Falls (Moderate)

One of the most popular hikes in Yosemite is the Nevada Falls. We really wanted to hike this as the photos on google were just so pretty. However, due to time constraints, we weren’t able to hike up, however, if we were to go back to Yosemite, this would be my number one priority.

This hike takes about 5-6 hours. If you have time to spare, I would recommend this hike! A lot of people who visit Yosemite go for this hike! Sadly, we did not have the chance to do so.

Since we were unable to complete all the hikes, we are not able to tell you much about the hikes that we didn’t go but should you need more information, visit the visitor’s center or use the newspaper they provide everyone with!

Tips and Advice for Yosemite National Park:

a. Accommodation/ Lodging

Booking in advance will definitely help you secure a good place to stay in Yosemite. There are a few cheaper options that you can choose from:  Camping in Tents, Camping in RVs/Campervans or Camping in tent Cabins.

The first two options are normal and you can find them in any other campsites in all of USA National parks. In Yosemite, if you are afraid of the cold, tent cabin is definitely the next cheapest and most convenient option for you. It cost above USD 130 for non-heated tent and USD 180 for heated tents. (prices are exclusive of tax). Do note that tent cabins only provide communal toilets. They do not have private toilets in the cabin itself.

If you do have a car and feel that staying in a tent cabin is expensive and not worth the money, there are hotels available. It is about an hour’s drive from Yosemite Valley National Park.

If money is not an issue for you, there are hotels available within the National Park. It is called Majestic Yosemite Hotel and Yosemite Valley Lodge. Both hotels costs about USD 500 – 600. (not inclusive of tax). Sometimes, Yosemite Valley Lodge is not that expensive, it depends on when you book it. I found it at USD 200+.

b. Driving into Yosemite National Park

There are lots of small hiking trails and picture taking spots available as you drive into Yosemite National Park. I drove into Yosemite National Park from CA- 120W Highway. Along the drive after you pass the ranger box station, there is a beautiful lake, a gorgeous landscape of the mountains and a waterfall formation that you will be passing by! It is a good place for you to take some pictures.

Yosemite Lake!
Yosemite Lake!
Captured this while on the way out of Yosemite!
Captured this while on the way out of Yosemite!
Scenic View while Driving through Yosemite
Scenic View while Driving through Yosemite

As you continue into the park, there are many small hiking trails available where you can hike and explore! We saw many people going around, exploring further into the beauties of Yosemite National Park. There is also a huge lake where many people go for swimming, fishing and many other activities! Everyone seemed to be having an enjoyable time.

I am somebody who is afraid of being cold. The weather in the afternoon was about 14 – 17 degrees celcius. I can’t imagine myself going into the waters with this weather. HAHA. That’s just me.

Yosemite Lodging:

There are several places that you can stay at in Yosemite National Park: Hotels, yosemite Cabins for rent and Campgrounds! For us, we were not used to cold weather especially at 6 degrees or below in a tent. We just didn’t enjoy it. However, if you are a fan of it, you can check it out here! There are also many hotels available within the park. I feel that they are extremely expensive.

This is what I have for Yosemite National Park! Have fun out there! 🙂

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Bunny Hop Travels: Charmaine Leow  

Bunny Hop Travels with Charmaine

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