Must See Attractions of Yosemite in 24 Hours

Updated: Feb 8

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Are you looking to hit all the National Parks you can? Or did you watch Free Solo and just want to see El Cap in person?

I went there in November 2018, and I did not have a full day to explore the park.

Yes, I know, how can you see all the highlights or really get to experience it in just 24 hours?

The short answer is, you can't.

However, if you clicked on this, you’re likely looking to visit Yosemite and have limited time as well.

Here is some insight into why I only had 24 hours. For those of you who are new to my blog, I live in New Jersey, Yosemite is in California which is on the other side of the country.

Picture this, my friend and I land in Sacramento, drive two hours to Aladdin Inn (yes this is a real place), in Sonora, California.

We crash and maybe get 4 hours of sleep.

Leave the following morning by 6 AM.

Get to Yosemite explore as much as we can with the little daylight November offers.

Get back in the car to reach our final destination, John Muir Lodge in Kings Canyon.

Now that you know the timeline, let us jump into visiting Yosemite!

Getting to Yosemite has been my dream and getting back there is seriously on my list!

I researched any keyword I could think of in Google and Pinterest.

The main search included, "the must-see areas of Yosemite".

Some articles were helpful, but after learning the names, I turned to Google Maps and mapped out the day.

If you have not used Google maps to plan out an adventure, I highly suggest it!

I am going to save you the hassle of reading so many blogs, studying google maps, and repeating the process for days on end as I did.

If you just want a quick list of where I highly suggest going, here you go:

  • The valley - take your time here and check out the Yosemite store!

  • Tunnel View - it is a pull-off on the road with a parking lot, expect lots of people.

  • Glacier Point - beautiful views and walking trails.

If you want to know why I say those spots, keep reading!

Before jumping into the locations, be prepared. There is a fee for entering the park.

Think of what you are going to wear, and be prepared to have layers especially going to different elevations. The higher you go, it’ll be colder.

Be mindful of your footwear. I wore comfortable boots. Although, sneakers would close enough to a light hiking day shoes would be ideal for comfort.

Also, be safe! The top of Glacier Point is very windy. Be mindful of your surroundings.

The number of people that have died from taking a selfie…. NOT WORTH IT. You know what, just leave your phone and camera in the car if you cannot restrain from taking a safe selfie.

I know, I know, just get on with explaining the beauty of Yosemite.

Right when I went to Yosemite, a husband and wife died at Glacier Point because they got famous for taking daring selfies and were trying to take one there.

#1 The Valley

For those you know not familiar with the valley, the valley is at the center of Yosemite. This is where you can see Bridal Falls, El Cap, Half Dome, and Cathedral Rocks.

The views will take your breathe away. I would say, if you don’t make it to the next two places, it would be okay.

In the valley, you have the peace and quiet.

Your own space. It's very relaxing.

When you enter the park, Bridal Falls is close to the start of the loop. Park there and enjoy the walk to the waterfall.

When I went it was the fall, so very little water was falling.

From there you can take a path that takes you out to El Cap. Now, it is spectacular.

How, just how someone thought to Free Solo it, I will never understand.

As a plug, I am a rock climber and boulder. I broke my ankle in December 2019 from 10-foot fall bouldering.

So, yeah not something I would think to do.

From there, there is a spot to park that has a walking trail through the center of the valley and a bridge over a mirror lake that reflects Half Dome.

Full disclosure, I was OBSESSED with Half Dome leading up to this trip. My main focus for planning was to stop and see Half Dome is as my viewpoints as I could.

My friend who went with me can totally attest to that!

#2 Tunnel View

Now, this view is wonderful.

However, it is a quick turn off on the side of the road.

It can be crazy with people trying to turn in and get their own picturesque photos.

As long as you know, it is a view from a parking lot so don’t be surprised by all the people you’ll encounter there.

After coming out of the valley, where it's so peaceful, it was a bit underwhelming.

If you have the spot to yourself, enjoy the view and the sound of the wind going through the valley.

There were a decent amount of people when I went. My photo is a bit hazy due to the major California fires happening during the time.

Even with the smoke from fires hundreds of miles away, it is still a beautiful view.

Now, get back in your car and head to the final place you’ll want to take your time!

#3 Glacier Point

This view, just look at it!

Now I was in awe. I wasn't just in awe of the view, I felt a special connection to my Mom.

When my Mom was in her early twenties she went backpacking in Yosemite with friends. Taking a photo and being where she was at a similar age to me, made this trip even more memorable.

Now, this view. Just wow.

Looking about all these monstrous rocks from up above, you still feel so small.

Now, just a major reminder - BE CAREFUL!

Here it is very windy, be careful, know where the edges are at all times.

There are walking trails you can take to keep getting views. Make sure to leave enough time to enjoy the views from here.

I hope you enjoy your trip to Yosemite! Share with me what your favorite spots in Yosemite is!

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