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Yosemite Vacation – 10 Fun Things to Do

Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park photo by D.H. Parks

10 Fun Things to Do on a Yosemite Vacation list a variety of activities that all the family will enjoy. Yosemite National Park is one of the top outdoor vacation attractions in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Yosemite is located about 200 miles southeast of San Francisco and about 300 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Yosemite Park ranges in elevation from 2,000 ft to over 13,000 ft and parts of the park can be visited year round. On your Yosemite Vacation you can enjoy hiking in Yosemite Valley, walking through Giant Sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove, taking an art class at the Yosemite Art and Education Center, or just riding the shuttle bus around and look at all the spectacular scenery. Enjoy my 10 Fun Things to Do in Yosemite National Park below.

1. Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley View
Yosemite Valley Panorama from Tunnel View photo by D.H. Parks

Best place to view Yosemite Valley is from Tunnel View off of Wawoma Road below is a link to a google map. You can see El Capitan to the left and Half Dome way up at the end of the view on the right.
More on Tunnel View from Google Streetview  Google Maps


2. Yosemite Falls Hike

Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls – Upper & Lower photo by Navin75

There is a great easy 1 mile round trip hike to lower Yosemite Falls, and a very strenuous 7 mile round trip hike to the top of upper Yosemite Falls with a 2,700 ft elevation change. Take your pick.
More on Yosemite Valley Hiking Map  NPS.gov


3. Yosemite Valley Visitor Center and Museums

Yosemite Valley Visitor Center
Yosemite Valley Visitor Center Exhibit on Half Dome photo by Samuel Mann

The Yosemite Valley Visitor Center is worth a visit. They have exhibit hall about how Yosemite’s landscape was formed. They also have a free 23 minute film about Yosemite. Then there is the Yosemite Museum next to the Visitor Center with lots of cultural history of native americans. Behind the museum is a reconstructed Ahwahnee Indian Village.


4. Glacier Point

Glacier Point View
Yosemite Valley View from Glacier Point photo by sryffel

Glacier Point rises about 3,200 feet above Yosemite Valley and is considered one of the best views of Yosemite Valley you can drive to. You can see Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, El Capitan and other famous locations from here. The 32 mile drive from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point is open in the summer.
More on Glacier Point Information  NPS.gov


5. Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Mariposa Grove
Giant Sequoias at Mariposa Grove photo by David Ooms

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is near the southern entrance to Yosemite NP about 35 miles south of Yosemite Valley. This is the largest Sequoia Grove in Yosemite Park. The most famous tree in this grove is the Grizzly Giant thought to be 2,700 years old.
More on Mariposa Grove Information  NPS.gov


6. Ahwahnee Hotel

Ahwahnee Hotel
The Ahwahnee Hotel – Yosemite NP photo by bryce_edwards

The Ahwahnee Hotel is considered one of the crown jewels of the National Park Service hotels. It was finished in 1927. The Ahwahnee has 99 hotel rooms and 24 cottages. It’s located in Yosemite Valley with views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and Glacier Point. Even if you don’t stay at the Ahwahnee it’s worth a visit to see it. See the links below for The Ahwahee and other Yosemite Hotels.


7. Tuolumne Meadows

Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows Panorama photo by 4johnny5

Tuolumne Meadows is located near the eastern entrance to Yosemite and is at 8,600 feet. It is the biggest sub-alpine meadow in the Sierras. Yosemite Valley is about 55 miles away on the Tioga Road. Tuolumne Meadows is the jumping off point for many great High Sierra hikes. Check road conditions before going because the snow falls early at Tuolumne Meadows.
More on Tuolumne Meadows Information  NPS.gov


8. Yosemite Art and Photography Classes

Ansel Adams Gallery Yosemite
Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite Valley photo by JCTennis.com

Yosemite Valley has several great resources for Art and photography courses and viewing. The Ansel Adams Gallery has been in Yosemite Valley since 1902. Founded as Best’s Studio by Ansel Adam’s wife’s parents. They offer multiple photography courses and a free Camera Walk led by staff photographers during the summer. The Yosemite Art and Education Center has been providing art classes in Yosemite NP for 27 years. The classes run from the Spring through Fall and is an inexpensive way for adults and children to enjoy creating art in some beautiful surroundings. Both the Ansel Adams Gallery and the Yosemite Art and Education Center are located in Yosemite Valley.
More on Ansel Adams Gallery  Official Website
More on Yosemite Art and Education Center  Official Blog


9. Wawona Hotel & Area

Wawona Hotel
Wawona Hotel – Yosemite NP photo by Gelatobaby

The Wawona Hotel is located near the Southern Entrance of Yosemite. There is a lot to do in Wawona. You can play golf at the 9 hole Wawona Golf Course built in 1918. You can go horseback or mule riding. There is the Pioneer Yosemite History Center with historic structures from Yosemite’s history including a blacksmith shop, a jail, a bakery and more. You can go hiking on the many trails in the area and don’t forget to visit the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias just 4 miles to the south. There is also a post office, gas station, gift shop and grocery store.
More on Wawona Hotel  Official Website


10. Mirror Lake Hike with Half Dome View

Half Dome from Mirror Lake Area
Half Dome from Mirror Lake Area photo by Ken and Nyetta

The Mirror Lake hike is an easy 2 mile round trip hike with some great views of Half Dome. It’s really the closest you can get to Half Dome on a trail in Yosemite Valley. Half Dome rises almost 5,000 feet out of Yosemite Valley. Your best bet is to take the Yosemite Valley Shuttle to stop 17. You can hike another mile or so up the Tenaya Creek past Mirror Lake to the Snow Creek Trail on the northern side of the creek. You can no longer hike the full loop trail due to a massive rockfall from 2009 see link below.
More on Yosemite Valley Hiking Map  NPS.gov

Yosemite Vacation Resources

More on Yosemite Accommodations in the Park  Official Park Concessioner
More on Yosemite Hotels in the Area  Hotels.com
More on Yosemite National Park Maps  NPS.gov
More on YosemiteHikes.com  Great Resource for Hiking at Yosemite


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