In Yosemite What to Do Is Easy To Answer
On most everyone’s list of Yosemite what to do items is the valley floor. Most of the park’s nearly four-million annual visitors head for the valley floor even though it is a small part of the park’s over 3,000 square kilometer area.
Most of the park’s most familiar sights and a long list of the most popular Yosemite what to do are to be found in the Yosemite Valley.
The main roads from the west once in the valley soon become one-way and take cars on a long round trip tour of unbelievably spectacular natural views. The drive around the valley can easily become an all-day adventure. Don’t forget to get a map of the park at the fee station as you arrive. All of the places I list are easily reachable by car or shuttle or by a short hike. Most are easy handicap accessible.[sam id=1 codes=’false’]
Yosemite – What To Do in the Valley
Your first stop if you entered by highway 120 or 140 is to turn right onto highway 41 for a very short distance to Bridalveil Fall. As with all the falls in Yosemite this fall is most spectacular in the spring but is always worth the visit. Park in the parking lot and walk the short trail to the foot of the falls. In the winter Bridalveil will be framed by thick columns of ice.
If you entered Yosemite via highway 41 then you will already have come to the Wawona Tunnel viewpoint. If you entered via highways 120 or 140 turn left from the Bridalveil Falls parking lot and continue on highway 41 a few miles to the Wawona Tunnel viewpoint.
The view from Wawona Tunnel is the famous, classic view of Yosemite Valley and is absolutely awe inspiring. The rows of sheer granite cliffs stretch off miles into the distance to the obviously named Half Dome. The view here is particularly popular at sunset when the skies to the west are clear. The many cliffs of Yosemite, such as El Capitan are painted the bright colors of the sunset, one of the finest natural landscapes in the World.
Leave the Wawona Tunnel viewpoint back down highway 41 into the valley. A stop at Swinging Bridge picnic area is advisable for the fine views of the surrounding cliffs from the open meadow. Continue on the road and after the main road loops around you will come to Yosemite Village.
Besides satisfying all your shopping needs, Yosemite Village includes a post office, fast food vendors, museum and information centers and the always popular Ansel Adams Gallery. Ansel Adam’s detailed, black and white art photos of Yosemite are the mental images many people have of the park. The must-see gallery features prints of his photos for sale, fine art, photo supplies and picture taking advice.
In Yosemite Village you can also grab one of the frequent shuttles that will take you through the valley. A trip to the Nature Center at Happy Isles is a top Yosemite what to do as well as the slightly longer hike to Mirror “Lake”. In a stunning example of natural geologic changes Mirror Lake has become Mirror Meadow over the last 40 years from washed down sediments.
From Yosemite Village it is a short drive to the historic accommodation in Yosemite: The Ahwahnee. The hotel, completed in 1927, is a first-class luxury hotel and well worth the time to visit for its historic interest as well as to see an architectural masterpiece.
From The Ahwahnee return to Yosemite Village then continue driving west along the valley loop road to Yosemite Falls across the valley loop road from Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. The short, easy walk to Yosemite Falls is probably the most popular hikes in Yosemite. The approach gives you a clear view of the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls and is sure to impress at any time of year.
On any visit to Yosemite what to do is never the problem. Finding the time to do all the things you will discover is the problem.