Things to do in Yosemite national park – 1 week Itinerary
1 week in Yosemite National Park is the best way to see all of the beautiful sights Yosemite National Park has to offer. From gorgeous views of the mountains, to huge waterfalls, you won’t be disappointed. Here are the best things to do in Yosemite National Park!
We visited Yosemite in the beginning of June, we got lucky that it wasn’t too crowded on any hike we went on. They were only allowing 1,000 visitors (cars) into the park a day because of covid. That being said if you’re planning on traveling to Yosemite during the covid pandemic, you need to make reservations before you go the park. Otherwise they won’t allow you in.
Where to stay : Junction Campground
If you’re traveling to Yosemite in a camper like we did. There are plenty of campgrounds on the pass up tp Yosemite. They’re all first come first serve, so you need to get there in the morning. Keep in mind there is no cell service in the park or along the pass at any of these campgrounds.
We stayed at Junction Campground which is about 5 minutes from the park entrance. It was $19 / night and your stay limit it 7 days. They’re also pet friendly as long as you keep them on a leash and clean up after them! The closest large town is Mammoth Lakes which has restaurants and shopping.
Day 1 :
For our 1st day in Yosemite National Park, we drove about 1 hour from the entrance to visit Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. The hike was a moderate 3.2 mile out and back, mainly paved trail. They say there is about 2 dozen sequoia trees within Tuolumne Grove. Our favorite part about this hike is the giant tunnel that goes through a dead sequoia tree!
After we hiked at Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, we were getting hungry so we stopped at all of the viewpoints on the way back, then stopped for lunch at Tuolumne meadows. They have a small general store and a grill next door that sells burgers and sandwiches. We ate lunch then headed back to the campsite for the remainder of the day.
Right around sunset, we decided to take a drive to Shepard Hot Springs in mammoth lakes. Theres 2 small pools that can fit around 4-5 people. if you’re lucky like we were you’ll have the whole pool to yourself!
Day 2 : Cathedral Lakes
For day 2 in Yosemite, we did the hike to Cathedral Lakes. The hike is a 8.6 miles out and back. Its rated moderate but if you aren’t used to 9,000 Ft elevation then i’d rate it hard. The 1st 2 miles are the hardest because it’s all up hill, after the initial climb it flattens out a good bit.
The Terrain changes a lot throughout the course of this hike. It goes from rocky, to sand, then to grass and creeks once you get to the top. You get tons of beautiful views of the mountains and even this huge rocky mountain that looks like half dome. Once you pass this rock, you’re about half way to the top!
This is the flattest portion of the hike, after this you have another small climb to the top and let me tell you…. so worth the hard hike up! When you first get to the top its gonna be a large grassy field. To the left you will get to see the Cathedral rock. Then if you keep walking to the right you will reach Cathedral Lake.
After our hike we started to make our way back to the campsite when we saw this crystal blue lake, we just had to stop! This gorgeous lake is called Tenya Lake!
Day 3 :
Being exhausted from the 9 mile hike we did the day before, we decided to explore things to do near Yosemite National Park. About 20 mins from the campsite there’s a few towns that have pretty lakes you can checkout. Go swimming, paddle boarding, etc. The day we decided to go was a little chilly. That being said, we just walked around and took in the views of June lake and mammoth lake!
If you’re up for it there’s a scenic drive you can do around June lake, it’s only a couple of miles and the views you get are inane!
Day 4 :
On our 4th day in Yosemite we took it easy and just did a small hike and got some lunch afterwards. The hike we were supposed to do was the Tuolumne River Loop. The hike is a 3.5 mile loop. well…. All-trails failed us and we got lost and ended up having to cut through parking lots to find our way back. All worked out though because we got to see a mama bear and her cub! This hike featured gorgeous views of the river and mountains around it.
Day 5 : Yosemite Valley
Our last day in Yosemite National Park was definitely my favorite! Since Yosemite Valley was 2 hours away from our campsite, we tried squeezing in as much as we could in a day. To start the day we did the Vernal falls hike! It’s a 3 mile round trip to Vernal falls, and there’s another waterfall even farther up called Nevada Falls. That one is 7 miles round trip I believe!
Next stop on our list was Mirror Lake. From the end of Vernal falls trailhead mirror lake is around a 1 mile walk or .7 mile bike ride if you take the road. It was super hot and to us wasn’t really worth it. The water level is pretty low and filled with people. You do get a really cool view of half dome which makes it worth it!
A few more stops to check out on your drive back from Yosemite Valley are Lower Yosemite falls, and swinging Bridge picnic area for another view of Yosemite falls. You get gorgeous views of the lower falls and it’s just breathtaking. Theres a short hike that give you a even closer view of the falls if you’re up for it!
Last but not least El Captain. To get a good view of the Summit, there’s a pull off about 10 mins away when you’re driving out of Yosemite Valley. You will see tons of cars stopped and people with their binoculars looking for people climbing El Captain.
If you wanna see more from our Yosemite Trip, be sure to checkout my Youtube video!