Yosemite in a Day | April & May

Yosemite | 1 Day

Early Spring is an ideal time to be in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. The waterfalls are flowing, dogwoods are in bloom and the river is rushing. Get an early start! This is a full day’s worth of activities. 



Getting Started:

From the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau: Go northbound 14 miles on Hwy 41 to the Yosemite Park south entrance.  Stay on Hwy 41 (Wawona Road) all the way to Yosemite Valley. (Park entry fee is $30 per car, good for 7 days; if you are 62 or older and a US citizen or permanent resident, you can obtain a Senior Pass for $10, good for life for all National Parks).  

Viewpoint 1: WAWONA

Things to do and see: 
  • Wawona Hotel 
  • Pioneer History Center
  • Walk the Meadow Loop (easy, 3.5 mile loop, flat)
  • Hike Chilnualna Falls (moderately easy to first cascade—2 mile round trip. strenuous to upper cascades, 8 mi round trip, 2,300 ft elevation gain, possible snow on trail). 
  • Play Golf
  • Have dinner in the Wawona Hotel and listen to Topp Bopp (musician/Yosemite historian) Tuesday through Friday 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Travel to next Viewpoint:

Take Glacier Point Road out 16 miles to the point; return the way you came (seasonal road). Special note: It may be closed due to weather. The Park Service tries to have Glacier Point Road open by Memorial Day weekend. 

Viewpoint 2: GLACIER POINT

  • Hike McGurk Meadow – spectacular wildflowers in late summer - easy 2 miles. If you hike to creek crossing, you may find head-high wildflowers in bloom.
  • Hike to Dewey Point – moderate, 8 miles round trip, stunning views.
  • Hike to Sentinel Dome - moderate, 2.2 miles round trip, best 360-degrees views of valley and high country.
  • View Nevada and Vernal Falls from Washburn Point and Glacier Point.
  • Birds’-eye view of Yosemite Valley from 3,200 ft above valley floor.

Travel to next Viewpoint:

From Glacier Point, turn right on Wawona Road; continue down to Yosemite Valley. You will go through a mile-long tunnel.

Viewpoint 3:

  • Tunnel View – Immediately after exiting tunnel, park on right or left. Watch for traffic! Spectacular view of Bridalveil Fall, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, El Capitan. Quintessential photo opportunity!
  • Bridalveil Fall – Walk ¼ miles to base of fall. (Be prepared to get wet!)


  • Oldest building still in use in Yosemite Valley, dating from 1879, and spectacular view of Yosemite Falls from outside chapel. 

Travel to next Viewpoint:

From Yosemite Chapel continue to Sentinel Bridge. Turn left over Sentinel Bridge and park at Shuttle Stop 11. 


  • Walk back to middle of bridge. This is one of the best-know photo locations in Yosemite - Half Dome over the Merced River. 

Hop on the Shuttle

Shuttle Stop 1

  • DAY PARKING:  – Park your car and forget it for the rest of your visit to Yosemite Valley, until you’re ready to leave.
  • Take the free Yosemite Valley shuttle bus to all the major spots in the valley 

Shuttle Stop 6

  • Yosemite Falls – ½ mile walk to base of Lower Yosemite Falls

Shuttle Stop 5/9

  • Valley Visitors Center
  • Visitors Center & Bookstore - watch "The Spirit of Yosemite" in Theater
  • Ansel Adams Gallery
  • Indian Museum

Shuttle Stop 3

  • Ahwahnee Hotel. Great for LUNCH 1-209-372-1489. Dinner reservations only necessary (dress code applies for dinner; none for lunch) 

Shuttle Stop 8

  • Yosemite Lodge - Valley/Glacier Point tours depart from here – info and reservations 1-209-372-4386

Shuttle Stop 16

  • Happy Isles - See the Fen and the Happy Isles Nature Center
  • Hike to Vernal Falls Footbridge - .8 miles UP
  • Hike to Nevada Falls – 1 mile to top of Vernal Falls (very steep stone steps; you will get quite wet in spring/early summer) – another 2 miles to top of Nevada Fall.

Shuttle Stop 17

  • Mirror Lake – walk out about 1 mile to Mirror Lake for an up-close  view of the face of Half Dome. It’s an easy walk for a big payoff. 
  • Those are just a few of the adventures you can have in Yosemite Valley. One more awaits you as you’re leaving the valley via Northside Drive -->

View point 6: VALLEY VIEW

  • Watch for the big pullout on the left as you approach the Pohono Bridge. You'll often find "green dragon" tram tours there. This view from here is a panorama of Yosemite Valley from a different perspective.

A Parting Gift

If you have time and the road is open, don't miss the opportunity to view the Yosemite high country up-close-and-personal by traversing the Tioga Road, which goes across the park to the east side of the Sierra Nevada. For some of us, this is the most beautiful, most spectacular part of the park.