Exploring Yosemite in One Day

Tunnel View at Yosemite National Park

When you travel with Natalie, another trip means another national park. And another national park means more hiking and somehow it’s always uphill, both ways.

In August my adventure with Natalie brought us to Yosemite. She did most of the legwork, booked our flights, our hotel and rental car and got us set up with a reservation for the park. It’s a good thing she did her research, because I didn’t even know you had to have reservations. And we had to do all of our exploring of Yosemite in one day.

It seems like the more popular parks, including Yosemite, have experienced overcrowding in the last few years. This is especially prevalent from spring through fall and on many dates reservations are required. It was also advised that in order to avoid a traffic jam going into the park that we arrive early, definitely before 9 a.m.  We planned an early day and arrived with little traffic around 7 a.m.

Tunnel View

We first headed in the direction of Tunnel View. Tunnel View is an amazing view point. You can see, among others, El Capitan and Half Dome. But even before we arrived, we had to pull over several times. Even though we knew about what to expect, the view was both amazing and unexpected.

A young woman sits on a rock wall in front of Tunnel View while exploring Yosemite in one day.
We were anxious to see Tunnel View and El Capitan in the distance.

When we finally arrived we were blown away. The parking lot was about half empty so we had no problem finding a place. We took some pictures, but the morning glare was a bit much and the shots seemed hazy. We stopped back later in the day and were able to get much better pictures.

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Seeing some giant sequoias was at the top of my bucket list. As a small child my family took a grand road trip all the way to the Pacific, up the California coast and home again. One of my favorite memories was seeing the giant sequoias and I definitely wanted to see that again.

A young woman poses in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias while exploring Yosemite in one day.
Seeing these giant trees was a highlight for me. Natalie posed for a shot in the California Tunnel Tree.

We headed over to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. You aren’t able to park at the Grove, but instead park at the visitor center and then ride the shuttle bus to the Grove.

A young woman stands next to a cross cut of a giant sequoia tree in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park.
Natalie posed next to this cross cut of a giant sequoia to give you some idea of the size of these massive trees.

We arrived just in time it seemed and we made it onto the first shuttle bus we saw. When we returned, we noticed the line had grown with people waiting through several shuttles to catch a ride to the Grove.

When we arrived at the Grove we were in awe of the sequoias. We took a two mile hike (Grizzly Giant Loop Trail)  through the Grove, taking lost of pictures. We saw deer, but the star of the show was the sequoias. I felt so small next to the giant trees. Natalie really liked the California Tunnel Tree as you can walk right through it.

Giant sequoia trees in Yosemite National Park, California
It’s hard to show in pictures how awe inspiring these giant trees truly are.

Lunchtime in Yosemite

By the time we finished at Mariposa Grove, we were famished. We found the nearby Wawona Hotel Dining Room. It was certainly a throwback to a simpler time. But it was a nice, quiet place for lunch. We had usual lunch fair, sandwiches and fries.

More Adventures in Yosemite

We had a few more stops to make in Yosemite before heading back to San Francisco and our hotel. We hiked to Yosemite Falls, which in August is barely flowing. Well, to be quite honest, Natalie hiked all the way to the base. I hiked most of the way to the base, but passed on the last 1/10 of a mile which was more of a rocky scramble.

The meadow at Yosemite as you look towards El Capitan. Yosemite National Park in California
I captured this photo in the meadow. I can’t imagine how beautiful it would be in the spring.

We then headed to El Capitan. Natalie had watched a program on free climbing El Cap, as they call it. She wanted to touch the face of El Cap so we set off in that direction. We made most of the hike, but again stopped short of the last 100 yards. The trail turned rough and I was a bit too tired to make the rest of the trek through the rocky pass.

The hike to the waterfall had been a fairly busy trail, so I was comfortable sending Natalie on alone to finish the hike. But near El Capitan, there weren’t any other hikers on the trail. Being an over protective mom I asked her not to finish the hike. I felt really bad about that, but she reminded me that she was young and would return to Yosemite some other time.

Yosemite Valley

We stopped at a few other spots in the Yosemite Valley. The view from the boardwalk in the meadow was amazing and we got several pictures. I imagine that view would be even prettier in the springtime when the wildflowers were all in bloom.

Visitors play in a mountain stream in Yosemite National Park.
This was one of my favorite spots in the park. Visitors played in a clear mountain stream with the granite peaks in the background.

One of my favorite stops, and one that was quite unexpected, had us crossing a bridge. There were a number of families swimming in the creek below. It was beautiful and the stream was clear, with an amazing view of the valley.

Yosemite is definitely worth the trip. The landscape is like another world. I’m just as happy with hiking and enjoying the natural world here in Ohio, but Yosemite is just a different world. San Francisco is the closest airport and served as a great home base for us during the trip. I’ll catch you up on the city in another article.

A tunnel winds through the mountains in Yosemite National Park.
There were so many views like this in the park. It was incredible.


Thanks for joining us on FindingOhio today and our adventures beyond the borders of the Buckeye State. If you’re looking to follow our adventures far and wide, check into the travel section.  If you’re looking for travels closer to home, explore our day trips for great adventures within the state.

A young woman stands at the welcome sign at Yosemite National Park in California.
Natalie always likes to get a shot next to the signs at all the national parks.

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