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The Greatest 3 Day Yosemite Itinerary for Summer time

3 days in Yosemite Nationwide Park is good to get a taster of this awe-inspiring pure wonderland.

The park is large so you may spend weeks there and nonetheless not see all of it, however this 3 day Yosemite itinerary covers the basic highlights in addition to some much less well-known sights.

We visited Yosemite in July and had been anxious that it could be crowded, temperatures scorching, and the waterfalls dried up.

Whereas visiting Yosemite in the summertime does have some downsides, it was completely value it. We hiked by way of alpine meadows and large sequoia groves, gazed at spectacular granite peaks, and admired one magnificent vista after one other.

Regardless of our fears, the warmth wasn’t too dangerous, we had loads of tranquil moments, noticed some lovely waterfalls, and benefited from all roads being open in the summertime.

We had a full 3 days in Yosemite arriving on Wednesday evening and spending Thursday, Friday and Saturday within the park. It was noticeably quieter midweek so keep away from the weekends should you can or plan to go to the much less visited areas.

A Yosemite National Park 3-day itinerary for the summer months. Click through to learn how to avoid the crowds and make the most of a short stay in this stunning USA park. Featuring the Mist Trail and all the main areas of the park—Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Tioga Rd, & Mariposa Grove.

This submit was initially revealed in 2014 and was final up to date in Could 2021 with the newest restrictions.

Yosemite 3-Day Itinerary Contents

Yosemite Restrictions 2021

Yosemite Reservations Required from Could 21

From Could 21, 2021 till September 30, 2021, advance reservations are required for Yosemite Nationwide Park day guests staying outdoors the park. Customer numbers can be restricted. 

In case you have a reservation to remain inside the park at a campsite, resort, or trip rental, you don’t want a day-use reservation (however advance lodging bookings are required).

Starting at 8 am Pacific time on the next dates, most reservations can be accessible for the summer season on

Reservations will open on:

  • April 21 for visits from Could 21–June 30
  • April 28 for July 1–31
  • Could 5 for August 1–31
  • Could 12 for September 1–30

If you happen to miss these slots, further reservations will change into accessible seven days upfront every single day beginning Could 14 at 8am PT. 

Reservations are per automobile (legitimate for all passengers) and price $2 (included within the $35 automotive entrance payment).

The reservation is legitimate for 3 consecutive days beginning on the primary day of the reservation. You don’t must arrive on the primary day, however you’ll must if you wish to maximise your time within the park and observe this 3-day Yosemite itinerary. 

If you happen to missed out on a reservation, I like to recommend seeing if there’s any lodging accessible inside the park (as you then don’t want a allow). Though the Yosemite Valley lodges ebook up far upfront, you would possibly get fortunate with a trip rental in Yosemite West. See under for some options. 

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Different Adjustments

Shuttles are presently not operating inside the parks.

Some campsites are nonetheless closed. All open websites have decreased capability to permit for social distancing. 

Whereas mountaineering please maintain your distance from others. If it’s not doable to remain greater than six toes away, put on a masks. 

Beginning in late spring 2021, you can’t descend the Mist Path steps from the highest of Vernal Falls between 9am and 4pm. As a substitute, you’ll be able to proceed mountaineering uphill to Clark Level and return on the John Muir Path. We advocate persevering with to Nevada Falls then returning on the John Muir Path as we did (see Day 2 under).

See the Nationwide Park Service Yosemite web site for extra particulars on the present adjustments. 

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The place to Keep in Yosemite

Selecting your lodging is a key a part of planning a visit to Yosemite Nationwide Park. In the summertime it’s important to ebook as far upfront as doable.

I like to recommend staying as near Yosemite Valley as you’ll be able to afford with the intention to keep away from lengthy drives. We stayed an hour away to economize and regretted it

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If you happen to can afford it, undoubtedly splurge on lodging within the park (ideally Yosemite Valley)—we plan to do that on our subsequent go to. It’s one of the simplest ways to see Yosemite in 3 days as you’ll be able to maximise your time. 

That is additionally the best choice should you don’t handle to safe a reservation for Yosemite (wanted from Could-September 2021—see above) as reservations aren’t wanted should you keep contained in the park. 

Be sure to ebook far upfront for the summer season—the very best rooms promote out a 12 months forward.

The Ahwahnee Resort (previously Majestic Yosemite Lodge) is probably the most luxurious resort within the park and the Yosemite Valley Lodge (in all probability my alternative for subsequent time) is extra reasonably priced and has an ideal location near Yosemite Falls.

You may additionally camp at a variety of campsites (bookings wanted). See the Yosemite Nationwide Park web site for the complete vary of choices. 

Simon at Washburn Point, the viewpoint just before Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park

Simon at Washburn Level 

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There are some trip leases inside Yosemite Nationwide Park. These are sometimes accessible when the Valley lodges have offered out (though advance reserving continues to be really useful) and supply a quieter, extra personal expertise. 

Accessing your personal kitchen is a bonus over a resort keep, and the additional house is nice for households and teams. 

You don’t must make a day-use reservation for Yosemite should you keep in a trip rental that’s contained in the park. 

Foresta is the closest space to Yosemite Valley (a 20-minute drive) and is the place to seek out cabins away from all of it, however choices are restricted and ebook up quick. Listed here are a couple of houses that look superb: 

  • Clouds Relaxation Cabin – This tranquil one-bedroom cabin has nice views of El Capitan and Half Dome, a comfy fire, and a bathtub sufficiently big for 2. 
  • Meadow Woods House – A country two-bedroom cabin within the woods with a wooden range and out of doors wood swing to benefit from the view. 
  • See Half Dome and El Capitan out of your Deck – This massive, snug three-bedroom home has floor-to-ceiling home windows to benefit from the mountains views and all of the facilities a household wants. There’s even a pool desk and foosball within the basement!
Yosemite Vrbo rental in Foresta

The view of El Capitan and Half Dome from the deck of a Foresta trip rental. Picture:

Yosemite West has extra alternative of cabins and condos. It’s a bit of additional away, a 30-minute drive from the Yosemite Valley at the next elevation, but it surely’s nearer to Glacier Level. Listed here are some beautiful leases: 

Wawona is the opposite space with trip leases contained in the park, but it surely’s a lot farther from the Valley (almost an hour from the customer centre). 

There are loads extra choices, so search right here for trip leases in Yosemite Nationwide Park on Vrbo.

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If you happen to can’t afford Yosemite Valley lodging or it’s already absolutely booked, I like to recommend on the lookout for inns in El Portal, which is the closest city to the Valley.

Yosemite View Lodge is an efficient reasonably priced possibility—rooms have mountain views and kitchenettes, there are indoor and out of doors swimming swimming pools, and it’s solely a 20-minute drive to Yosemite Village. 

In case you are on the lookout for a extra particular keep, Rush Creek Lodge has lovely rooms and villas (some with fireplaces) in a good looking forest setting with an outside pool and sizzling tubs.

They even present complimentary s’mores to grill on the campfire. It’s solely a 5-minute drive to a Yosemite Nationwide Park entrance and about 40 minutes to Yosemite Village. 

Seek for extra inns close to Yosemite right here.

To economize, we stayed at Yosemite Bug, a hostel 26 miles from Yosemite Valley close to Midpines.

They’ve a spread of lodging from dorm beds to non-public cabins. We went for the least costly personal possibility, a tent cabin with a correct mattress, electrical energy and shared toilet ($96 an evening). 

We preferred the forest setting, accessing a kitchen to make packed lunches, and the cozy sofas within the cafe, but it surely had some points.

The automotive park, kitchen and showers had been actually busy if we acquired again too late, the meals within the cafe wasn’t nice with restricted vegetarian choices, and we actually would have appreciated air-con at the moment of 12 months (accessible within the dearer rooms).

Our greatest remorse was staying to this point out of the park. The drive takes an hour or extra every manner and as we had been getting began early, the times had been actually lengthy and we had been too exhausted to remain out for sundown. It might have been nice to have a break in the course of the day, but it surely was too far to journey.

Test the newest costs of Yosemite Bug right here. 

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Entrance to Yosemite prices $35 per automobile and is often legitimate for seven days, but it surely’s solely legitimate for 3 days in summer season 2021 when reservations are wanted. You possibly can pay upfront or on arrival on the entrance gates (bank card solely). 

If you happen to plan to go to a variety of Nationwide Parks inside a 12 months, it is likely to be value buying the America the Stunning annual move which prices $80. 

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We arrived at our hostel late afternoon on Wednesday from Sonoma. We knew Midpines was very small so we stopped in Merced for groceries on the best way. There are some huge grocery shops there, however we wished we’d completed our procuring in foodie heaven Sonoma as an alternative the place all the things is native and natural.

We’d deliberate to enter the park for sundown at Artist Level however had been too exhausted after the lengthy drive—one more reason to remain within the park as you’ll be able to maximise your time there.

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Day 1 (9.30am to 9pm) – Cooks Meadow Loop, Taft Level, Sentinel Dome, Glacier Level & Tunnel View

Cooks Meadow Loop

Cooks Meadow, Yosemite, one of the stops on our Yosemite summer itinerary

Cooks Meadow

On Day 1 of our Yosemite Nationwide Park itinerary, we had each intention of creating an early begin, however we had been drained after the drive and didn’t make it into the park till 10.30am. We entered on the entrance on Freeway 140 and purchased our ticket. 

It wasn’t as crowded as we anticipated and we acquired parked simply at Sentinel Bridge for the Cooks Meadow Loop hike (2.25 miles) across the Yosemite Valley. It’s probably the greatest issues to do in Yosemite and was the right introduction to the park—simple and flat, not too busy, and with beautiful views.

We walked by way of lush inexperienced meadows and alongside the river, with views of Half Dome and granite cliffs hovering above. Often there are views of Yosemite Falls however in the summertime it had fully dried up, and the facet journey to the falls wasn’t value it.

We additionally took a facet journey to Yosemite Village to select up a mountaineering map and go to the Ansel Adams gallery. There’s additionally a store and eating places right here.

By the point we’d completed the brief hike, issues had been getting busier and the close by picnic spots had been full. We drove to the bottom of El Capitan which is a bit additional out, so picnic tables had been nonetheless accessible for our packed lunch. (We purchased a cool bag and ice blocks to maintain our meals and water cool through the day.)

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Taft Level & Sentinel Dome

Deer on the Taft Point hike, Yosemite

Deer on the Taft Level hike

After lunch we made our manner out of the valley and up winding Glacier Level Highway (open from mid-Could to October/November).

Most individuals come for the panoramic views at Glacier Level (a one-hour drive from the valley), however we stopped off for some hikes alongside the best way.

We arrived on the trailhead to Sentinel Dome and Taft Level at about 3pm and spent three hours there—an hour for every hike and half-hour on the high of every. Each hikes are brief, not too crowded or troublesome (there are some steep elements however we hiked them in sports activities sandals), and have severely spectacular views on the high.

It’s doable to do a loop that mixes the Taft Level and Sentinel Dome hikes, however this really takes longer (maybe 4 hours complete) and the path is much less apparent. Plus by returning to the trailhead between every hike we may use the bathroom and get extra water from our automotive.

The Taft Level hike (2.2 miles) began by way of the forest with furry inexperienced moss glowing on the bushes and deer getting surprisingly shut.

On the high we loved the vertigo-inducing views as we tentatively peered over the sting of the rock fissures and down and right down to the valley.

Tightrope walker at Taft Point, Yosemite

Slackliner at Taft Level

A few loopy guys had been making an attempt to slackline between two rocks, nothing however 1000’s of toes of air beneath them.

The primary one acquired half manner throughout earlier than he misplaced his footing and fell, his cries piercing the air as our hearts stopped. His harness caught him and he managed to get off unhurt however clearly shaken. It didn’t cease his pal who we watched holding our breath as he slowly made all of it the best way throughout.

We adopted the path again the best way we got here to the trailhead earlier than persevering with on to Sentinel Dome (2.2 miles). This was a bit steeper on the finish as we ascended the rocky dome however nonetheless a reasonably simple hike.

The views on the high had been even higher with a 360-degree view of a number of peaks together with Half Dome glowing within the late afternoon mild.

View at Sentinel Dome, Yosemite from our three day Yosemite itinerary

View at Sentinel Dome

Erin and Simon at Sentinel Dome

Us at Sentinel Dome

Replace: There are typically restrictions on driving on Glacier Level Highway. See the NPS web site for the newest particulars. 

The highway can be closed totally in 2022 for repairs, so this afternoon’s itinerary received’t be doable then. In 2023 there can be 30-minute delays. You may nonetheless attain Glacier Level by mountaineering the difficult Pohono Path however doing the return hike in a single day is for the tremendous match solely.

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Glacier Level & Tunnel View

We continued on as much as Glacier Level stopping alongside the best way for extra superb views at Washburn Level.

Glacier Level is rightly widespread and was fairly busy. The views are unbelievable and it’s the very best place to get a way of the size and fantastic thing about Yosemite.

You possibly can see the peaks of the excessive nation, Half Dome, Nevada Falls, and proper right down to the verdant carpet of meadows and forest within the valley far under.

View down to the valley at Glacier Point, Yosemite in the summer

View right down to the valley at Glacier Level

The cafe closed at 5pm so we had been glad we had sufficient meals for a picnic dinner. We’d have beloved to have stayed for sundown, but it surely was too late in summer season (8.15pm) and we had been now a two-hour drive from our hostel.

So we headed again right down to the valley hoping to catch sundown on the well-known viewpoint Tunnel View. half-hour earlier than sundown it was empty, although, because the solar was hidden behind mountains and I believe we missed the very best mild. We had been handled to a sky illuminated in pink and purple on the drive again.

Tunnel View just before sunset, Yosemite in the summer

Tunnel View simply earlier than sundown

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Day 2 (6am to 5pm) – Mist Path & Mariposa Grove

Mist Path

For our “huge hike” we selected the Mist Path (7 miles). We had been anxious that this widespread hike can be very crowded and sizzling in the summertime, however by beginning at 7am it was nice.

There have been different hikers however not too many, and we simply acquired parked on the trailhead regardless of listening to that it’s typically full with early risers mountaineering as much as Half Dome.

Simon hiking up the Mist Trail towards Vernal Falls - a highlight of our Yosemite 3 day itinerary in the summer

Simon mountaineering up the Mist Path in the direction of Vernal Falls

The steep path, partly on stairs carved out of the rock, took us up previous Vernal and Nevada Falls which even in summer season had good flows (however not sufficient to get moist as you do within the spring).

Vernal Falls on the Mist Trail - a highlight of our Yosemite 3-day itinerary

Vernal Falls

On the high of Nevada Falls we selected to hike again down by way of the Muir Path reasonably than retrace our steps. The path was a lot quieter and there are unbelievable views of Nevada Falls from afar. We had been typically alone and acquired a style of the wilderness expertise with out having to hike too far.

Nevada Falls from the John Muir Trail, Yosemite

Half Dome, Liberty Cap, and Nevada Falls from the John Muir Path

Close to the underside we rejoined the path to Vernal Falls and at 11am it was extraordinarily busy with vacationers struggling as much as Vernal Bridge. An early begin is unquestionably really useful.

We handled ourselves to pizza, espresso, and ice-cream at Curry Village for lunch.

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Mariposa Grove

Grizzly Tree in the Mariposa Grove

Grizzly Large within the Mariposa Grove

After our 5am begin and five-hour hike, we had been exhausted and actually wished we had been staying within the park for a nap. After an extended lunch we made the hassle and headed as much as Mariposa Grove, about an hour’s drive away, to see the large sequoia bushes.

Sadly, we missed the signal saying the automotive park on the Grove was full and needed to drive an additional 4 miles every manner and are available again to the customer centre parking the place we took the shuttle.

I admit our enthusiasm was waning at this level and we determined simply to do the brief 1.2-mile hike to the 1800-year-old Grizzly Large.

The large purple bushes are spectacular, however presently of 12 months many had been burnt (the burning is required for restoration) and it was highly regarded and crowded—Friday afternoon undoubtedly felt busier than Thursday. We a lot most well-liked our expertise at Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve in Sonoma.

I believe it’s solely value going as much as Mariposa Grove for an extended hike, ideally early, with the intention to escape the crowds.

It in all probability would have made extra sense to mix the grove within the morning with Glacier Level within the afternoon and do the valley stuff in sooner or later, however we didn’t get an early sufficient begin on Day 1 to do this.

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Day 3 (7am to 3pm) – Olmsted Level, Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows, Gaylor Lakes

Our closing day was a Saturday, so we visited one of many quieter areas of the park excessive up alongside Tioga Rd (solely accessible in the summertime), a two-hour drive from our hostel (one hour from the valley).

We entered the park by way of the west 140 entrance as ordinary however left by way of the east Tioga Move entrance and spent our final evening in Lee Vining (particulars under).

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Olmsted Level & Tenaya Lake

Olmsted Point on Tioga Rd, Yosemite

Olmsted Level on Tioga Rd

Our first fast cease was at Olmsted Level for one more view of Half Dome, this time from far above, and as at all times, it was beautiful. We had been unhappy to grasp this is able to be our final glimpse of the valley.

Somewhat additional alongside is Tenaya Lake. It was quiet and exquisite, with reflections of the encompassing granite domes within the calm water, and solely a few rise up paddleboarders round.

We didn’t hike across the lake, but it surely’s solely 2.5 miles so it could be worthwhile.

Tenaya Lake, Yosemite

Tenaya Lake

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Tuolumne Meadows

Tuolumne Meadows on our Yosemite three day itinerary

Tuolumne Meadows

After stocking up on meals on the Tuolumne Meadows grill and retailer, we went again a couple of minutes down the highway to the Tuolumne Meadows Customer Heart. From right here we did the flat, simple, and surprisingly quiet 1.5 mile hike to Soda Springs.

It was a stunning sunny day however cooler than the valley and much quieter, even on a Saturday.

We walked by way of the inexperienced Tuolumne Meadows, alongside a winding crystal clear river with a backdrop of granite mountains and forest within the distance. Soda Springs is a small spring with carbonated water effervescent from the bottom.

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Gaylor Lakes

Middle Gaylor Lake, Yosemite

Center Gaylor Lake

Our final hike was at Gaylor Lakes simply earlier than the Tioga Move park entrance at almost 10,000 toes (3000 metres) altitude.

We felt the altitude on the brief however steep climb at first, but it surely was value it for the views right down to the lakes and again to Dana Meadows and Mt Dana.

From the move we climbed right down to Center Gaylor Lake which, with just a few different folks round, felt very distant, unbelievable contemplating how shut we had been to the automotive park.

The changeable climate and craggy granite mountains surrounding the lake gave it an actual alpine really feel.

After strolling across the center lake we set off by way of the meadow of boulders and wildflowers in the direction of Decrease Gaylor Lake. We’d misplaced the path as we didn’t have a map, but it surely’s open and flat up right here and laborious to get misplaced.

It felt totally secluded and peaceable, and even on a Saturday afternoon, there have been just a few fishermen on the far facet of the decrease lake.

The meadow between the Gaylor Lakes

The meadow between the Gaylor Lakes

It took us three hours to go to the 2 lakes together with a leisurely picnic, however you may spend so long as you want up right here visiting the opposite lakes.

We extremely advocate this hike for a style of excessive mountain surroundings and seclusion with out having to hike too far.

After Gaylor Lake we left the park on the Tioga Move and drove alongside the slim winding highway on the sting of the dramatic Lee Vining Canyon.

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Listed here are all of the locations we visited on our 3 day journey to Yosemite plus a couple of of the very best locations to remain. 

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Extending Your Journey – Mono Lake & Bodie

Mono Lake, California at sunrise - a worthwhile addition to a Yosemite itinerary

We had been completed by 3pm on Day 3 and will have pushed again to San Francisco, but it surely’s an extended drive (5 hours) and there are some fascinating points of interest simply outdoors the park.

We spent the evening in Lee Vining, a tiny city a brief drive outdoors of the park. We stayed at El Mono Motel which at $89 was the most affordable we discovered and had trendy, properly furnished rooms, a small backyard, and onsite espresso store. 

We had been there to go to the bizarre tufa rock formations at Mono Lake at sundown and dawn, only a 20-minute drive away.

On our manner again to San Francisco the following day we additionally stopped on the distant ghost city of Bodie.

Each locations are undoubtedly value a detour and including an additional evening to your Yosemite itinerary.

Bodie ghost town, California

Bodie ghost city

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Yosemite exceeded all of our expectations. With some cautious planning, the summer season climate and crowds didn’t stop us having fun with this spectacular place, which has a few of the finest views and hikes we’ve ever skilled.

We noticed loads in three days however nonetheless solely a fraction of what the park has to supply. We all know we’ll be again—at any time of 12 months.

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