I'm Alley from Travel Tribe Guides. I'm a mom of four from Arizona, and I love sharing our travel experiences on Instagram and at www.traveltribeguides.com. We spent spring break in Yosemite National Park and I'm excited to share what we learned.
This trip didn't go as planned for our family. We had expectations about the weather, our lodging, the size of the park and what roads and activities would be open during our visit, and we were surprised along the way.
However, we learned a lot about Yosemite National Park and had a great trip. Now that we've been there, I have lots of tips to help you plan a great itinerary for one day in Yosemite National Park.
One Day in Yosemite
If you only have one day in Yosemite and want to see some of the highlights of the park, here are my tips.
Head first to Tunnel View. This part of the park sends you through a tunnel cut out of the mountain – which the kids loved! Once the tunnel ends, you'll be treated with an amazing view of El Capitan and Half Dome. There is a pull out where you can take photos and enjoy the view.
Once you leave Tunnel View, continue to Bridalveil Fall. The gorgeous, easy hike along a meandering river and through large trees will take you to the most stunning waterfall I have ever seen. Bridalveil Fall was a highlight of our trip.
Continue to Cook's Meadow Loop which is an easy and beautiful flat hike with views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, and Royal Arches.
Next, we decided to head to Yosemite Falls. On the way, you may want to stop at Valley Visitor Center and The Ansel Adams Gallery. In this area you'll find a grill and rest area with snacks, sandwiches, drinks and pizza. See Yosemite Falls from easy walk through beautiful trees and a paved trail. Keep in mind we did all of these trails with four children age 11-4 with no difficulty.
On the way back to our lodge and the exit of the park, there was a great trail for a view of El Capitan. This was a wonderful way to complete our day in Yosemite National Park!
We set off for Yosemite during our spring break in early March. We expected perfect, cool but not cold, clear weather. That’s not what we got, even though the forecast predicted perfect conditions. Yosemite's weather can be very unpredictable.
Weather wise, late spring and summer are probably the best time to visit as the lodges, campsites and trails are all open and Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad is operating. However, Yosemite is still a beautiful park to explore any time of year, and much less crowded in low season. Snow on the mountains and trees gives the park a majestic vibe. Be aware that four-wheel drive and snow chains may be required for ice and snow.
Expect heavy traffic during peak hours and seasons. Arriving before 9 AM or after 5 PM will save you the hassle of tailgating a Prius on a twisty road that contains no guard rails and only a few pull outs.
The Majestic Yosemite Hotel is a historic resort located in the best part of the park for views. If you go during low season and it’s not sold out, go straight to the front desk and ask for their walk-in rate. You can save hundreds, with luck and good timing. Click the button to check rates and availability on TripAdvisor.
One day in Yosemite National Park is really not enough. Get more fun activity ideas for Yosemite in Natalie's post 10 Places You Can't Miss in Yosemite National Park.
Finally, we got in to Yosemite National Park for free with my 4th Grader's Every Kid in a Park Pass. Learn more about Every Kid in a Park and other ways to save on National Park fees in Allison's post 4 Ways to Save on National Park Fees.
My family loved Yosemite National Park and we look forward to a return trip!