How to Make the Most of One Day in Yosemite National Park
Captivating an average of over 4 million visitors yearly, Yosemite National Park, without question, is one of the most beloved and frequently visited National Parks in America. Its breathtaking views and nostalgic grandeur leave everyone in awe and reminds you of how beautiful our planet truly is.
Is a day trip to Yosemite worth it?
Covering around 759,620 acres or 1,187 square miles in area, one day in Yosemite is definitely not enough. A longer stay, like a minimum of 3 days, would be better. But with proper planning, you can get the gist of it one day. If you simply don’t have enough time, like if you’re in Fresno just for a few days for a work conference or a long layover, visit Yosemite! It’s only 2 hours away, and it will still be worth it.
How to get to Yosemite
The closest airport to Yosemite is in Fresno, California. From Fresno, Yosemite is 2 hours away. So, rent a car and drive if you want to save time.
You can also fly to San Francisco or Oakland, but both are 4 hours away. If you’re doing this route or already in either, drive up early.
How do I spend a day in Yosemite National Park?
The key to a successful Yosemite day trip is to get there as early as possible and leave as late as possible. The earlier you get, we suggest before 9 am, the less traffic there will be in the parking area, especially if you’re going in summer.
Before going, make sure to pack everything you need, especially water! We suggest packing lunch too to save time and just go on picnics at the Park.
Here’s our suggested Yosemite One Day Itinerary if you’re entering Yosemite through the South Entrance from Fresno.
- Tunnel View
Your first stop then will be the Tunnel View. If you are heading out early, this is a great spot to watch the sunrise. Check out what time sunrise will be if you want to catch it on time.
The Tunnel View is one of the park’s most iconic vistas giving you a fantastic view of El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, and more. Make sure not to miss this, especially if you only have one day in Yosemite! It’s Yosemite National Park in one snapshot, pretty much.
- Bridalveil Falls
On the right side of the parking lot, after you head down to the valley from Tunnel View, go for a short walk to see the 620-foot tall Bridalveil Falls. Just a short half-mile hike roundtrip, if you time yourself right, it can take you just around 30 minutes from your car and back.
The falls are incredible when you visit in spring or early summer. You can get soaked by the mist, but that’s the fun part!
- Cathedral Beach or Sentinel Beach
Just a few miles east of Bridalveil Fall is the Cathedral Beach, and further along, is the Sentinal Beach. Both are excellent places for a breakfast picnic if you haven’t eaten yet. Enjoy stunning views of the El Capitan at the Cathedral Beach and the upper Yosemite Falls at Sentinel Beach while relaxing on this Sandy Beach by the Merced River. In warmer months, you can jump in for a refreshing dip and even float down from the upper stream down to the picnic area with a raft or a floating device.
- Yosemite Valley
The next stop is the epicenter of Yosemite National Park – Yosemite Valley. You can park at Yosemite Village, Curry Village, or near Yosemite Falls. Once you find a spot, leave your car there.
The best way to go around the valley is by bike! You’ll get around much faster, especially if you’re only spending one day in Yosemite. Yosemite Valley has an extensive network of bike paths, so biking around is easy. To start with, just bike around the valley and soak in the breathtaking views!
- Cooks Meadow and Lower Yosemite Falls
This picturesque meadow offers an awe-inspiring view of the Sentinel and Half Dome. It’s an easy trail that’s only 2.25 miles in a full loop. In spring and summer, the meadow is green and lush; in fall, it turns into a lovely fall foliage, although not so much.
The Lower Yosemite Falls is nearby, too, so head out and see the 2500 feet waterfall. It is best seen during spring when the water flow is full. By summer, it dries out, and by fall, it’s just a trickle!
- Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
The Glacier Point Road is closed for 2022 for rehabilitation, so you can’t access Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome, Taft Point, and other Glacier Point destinations. So for your last stop on your way out of the Yosemite National Park, visit Mariposa Grove.
Mariposa Grove is the home of about 500 mature giant sequoia trees – the largest living things on the planet! The most famous tree in the grove is the Grizzly Giant. It is one of the largest trees in the grove and is estimated to be 2700 years old.
If you’re coming from and to Fresno after visiting Yosemite, stay at Fresno City Inn for a relaxing time before or after a long day of adventure. Sink into our comfy beds in our spacious and classy rooms, yet at a budget-friendly price!