Answering the Age-Old Question for Reader Primoz

In Day Tripping, On the Trail

Reader Primoz from Slovenia sent in an email:

“First of all let me introduce my self. My name is Primoz and I’m from small country in central Europe called Slovenia. It’s a small but very beautiful country. I’m 29 years old. I am coming to US for the first time in june. I will be staying in San Francisco. Since ever I am dreaming to see the Yosemite park, and this is my best chance so far. The only downside is that my US visit is business and I will only have 2 days for sightseeing (suturday, sunday). I will probably take Suturday for Yosemite park and Sunday I will go to see the things closer to San Francisco (Muir Woods, bridge, etc…)

I read all about the Yosemite on your blog. It’s a great source of information but still I would love to get some inside information from a person who personally walked in the park. What would you advice me to see and how to do the movement in the park to see the most out of it. In one day of-course. My calculations are I will arrive in the park around 8AM and I will leave late at night… That way I will have around 12 hours of time in Yosemite to go around and see things… I hike a lot so that would be the preferred way of moving around. But I realize that hiking maybe isn’t the best option for only 1-day visit.

For now this is my plan:
– rent a car in SF and drive to Yosemite. I know that that’s about 3 hours drive. I would start early morning at 5 am to be in Yosemite as early as possible
– in Yosemite I would rent a bike an bike around the park as much as I can…

Would you advise me do it another way? Or maybe advice me a hike that I could do…? Or what’s the best places in the park to get a great view and is maybe hidden from casual family travelers…? Or can you maybe advice me a good local guide (cheap if possible) to guide me around? I am opened to any kind of advises from you. I am fit and I’m used to hike in nature.”

Thanks for the email Primoz. I know it’s kind of weird to see it posted on the blog but your question is one I get a lot, “I’ve only got one day, what do I do?”

Normally I’d say “You can’t see everything.” and you can’t. BUT, you can see a lot. You may not get the feel of Yosemite you’d get by spending a couple days in the park but you can see some of the major attractions. So, without further ado, here’s my “I’ve only got 1 day in Yosemite itinerary.” Keep in mind this isn’t EVERYTHING there is to see in the park but it’ll whet your appetite to visit again and you’ll have some great memories when it’s done.

8:00 AM – Enter through Highway 120 entrance.

9:00 AM – Enter Yosemite Valley. Stop at Bridalveil Fall. Hike short distance to Bridalveil Fall overlook.

9:45 AM – Stop at Cathedral Beach. Take pictures of El Capitan in morning light.

10:20 AM – Stop at Swinging Bridge turnout. Take photos of Yosemite Fall from footbridge.

10:35 AM – Stop at Upper Yosemite Falls vista (1/4 mile down road from Swinging Bridge – it’s a big wide spot you won’t miss the view). Take pictures of Yosemite Fall with meadow in foreground.

10:50 AM – Cross road and take pictures of Yosemite Chapel.

11:00 AM – Cross foot bridge across from Chapel and take photos of Yosemite Fall across meadow and Half Dome. Hike east down trail to Sentinel Bridge. Take pictures of Half Dome from the bridge (a classic Ansel Adams shot).

11:20 AM – Hike back to car and drive to Curry Village parking lot. Go to store and get lunch if you haven’t already. Buy souvenirs. Eat lunch.

12:00 PM – Leave car in Curry Village parking lot. Hike east to Happy Isles and then up to Vernal Fall foot bridge. Take photos of Vernal Fall. Hike up Mist Trail to top of Nevada Fall taking photos along the way.

2:00 PM – (Top of Nevada Fall) Grab a snack and drink some water. Then start back down to your car.

4:30 PM – (Back at car). Take Northside Drive like you’re headed out of the park. Stop at Valley View and take photos of Bridalveil Fall in afternoon light (another classic shot).

4:40 PM – Continue Driving west on Northside Drive. Stop and turn left at Pohono Bridge like you’re going around the Valley again. DO NOT EXIT THE PARK. Head east on Southside Drive.

5:00 PM – Turn right onto Highway 41 (Wawona Road) and head south. Stop at Tunnel View to take picture of Valley in afternoon light.

5:20 PM – Continue on Wawona Road until you come to the Glacier Point Road in Chinquapin. Turn left and follow the road to it’s end at Glacier Point.

6:40 PM – Grab a bite to eat and take a short nap.

7:30 PM – Take a flashlight, tripod and camera and hike to Glacier Point. Take sunset photos of Half Dome and High Sierra.

9:00 PM – Go find a hotel with an empty room. You’re exhausted and shouldn’t be driving.

Well that’s it. You’re going to see a lot of crowds, but you’ll see a lot of sites. You don’t really need the bicycle as you’ll be driving from spot to spot and parking to do some hiking. I guarantee you WILL be tired though so try to find a room for that Saturday before you come up. Most of the automobile fatalities that occur in Yosemite are from tired drivers.

Feel free to shoot me an email and ask any questions you might have. Thanks for sending along the beautiful pictures of Slovenia. Going to have to take a trip there someday to check it out.

Have a great trip!

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2 commentsOn Answering the Age-Old Question for Reader Primoz

  • Carol Ouzounian

    Perfect advice!

  • Ernie Coffman

    Primoz,
    There are some corrects, in my estimation anyway to what was shared with you. Most of the times, are pretty cool looking, but…first of all, you’re not going to make it to Yosemite in three hours. Sorry about that! Even if the cops were not flying or looking the other way. You’re not going to do it! Not from San Francisco! You’ll be getting there, more like 9 a.m. if even that, by leaving at 5 a.m.

    9:00 a.m. is a good suggestion, but I wouldn’t call it an “overlook.” More like the landing of the falls.

    12:00 p.m. I surely wouldn’t hike to Happy Isles. I’d hop on the free bus ride, so you get an example of the camping that’s going on and be more refreshed for the next part of trip. If you do hike up Mist Trail, expect to get wet, for it’s very wet this year. I was just there in the beginning of the month.

    2:00 p.m. When it says, “Grab a snack,” he’s referring for you to take it with you in your day pack, along with water. Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water! And, don’t try swimming on the top, for there have been people swept to their deaths on the top, even though there are signs that say not to.

    4:40 p.m. This seems kind of interesting, but this is because there is a lot of road construction going on; thus, pay attention to what and where you’re driving.

    5:20 p.m. As he states, turn here to the left and drive to Glacier Point. Large parking area! This is where a hotel used to be, but it burned down in 1969. A lot of tourists will be here, but this is the grandest view of the entire valley, except from the otherside of the valley, which isn’t too accessible for most folks. In fact, if you were to only do one spot on the entire Yosemite trip, GO TO GLACIER POINT! Excellent view and the mountains in the background are still covered with snow. Kind of like your country.

    6:40 The small eating establishment might be open by now, but it wasn’t when we were there, so be prepared with a back-up. But…I believe on the 20th it opened up, again. That was a good idea of taking a nap, for we hiked up to the overlook, where they used to dump the “Firefall” back several decades ago, down to Camp Curry, and waited around for 2.5 hours along with a number of other photographers. The Alpenglow–the golden color on Half Dome–never happened, so don’t be disappointed. It doesn’t happen everyday. If you have a flashlight, that’s a good idea, too! There probably will be a lot of folks up there, and most will leave right after the sun sets.

    9:00 p.m. I’m not sure where you’re going to find a hotel at this hour…even if you’re tired, which you will be. You won’t find it in the valley floor. You might get in to Wawona Hotel, after driving back to the road that goes to Fresno. I wouldn’t go any farther, for the roads are quite curvy and as he wrote, you’re going to be tired. Better to be safe and alive when you wake up, so…if no hotel, then find a parking spot at the hotel and grab some ZZZZZZZs; and, go in for an early breakfast in the a.m. They have a buffet or you can order what you want, but the buffet is worth the $13 (I believe it was), considering where you’re at. Everything is increased in price at Yosemite, it seems! :>(

    Have a great trip and welcome to the U.S. if this is your first time here. Now, that you’re back on the road, after breakfast, you can enjoy some of the other sites, going back to San Francisco. You might want to continue down to Oakhurst on the same highway going south toward Fresno, and pick up the road that takes you to Coulterville and down to Modesto and then back to Highway 120/108, which will get you back to SF in plenty of time. And, of course, you could always go back the same way you came in and do that trip, as well. It depends upon how many hours you want to be on the road. Have a great trip!
    Ernie

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