15 Best Things To Do in Yosemite National Park, California

by Bhoomi Shah Updated on 15 Oct 2018

Yosemite National Park is the symbol of United States’ natural beauty, and the park draws millions of visitors from all over the world. Its majestic waterfalls, abundant wildlife, giant sequoias and amazing cliffs make this a favorite among nature-loving tourists and also those who want an adventure in the wildlife. It is not without reason that is considered as one of the most beautiful places on earth. The natural calmness and the beauty will engulf you in itself. There are a number of things to do in this park, and a trip would be completely worth it. This list of the 15 best places to visit in Yosemite national park will help you plan your vacation.

Let's explore Yosemite National Park  attractions and 15 best things to do in Yosemite National Park:

1. Glacier Point

This is not the usual high points where you simply take in the sights and click some photos and come back. The Glacier Point will pull you into the lap of Mother Nature, and you will be captivated by the views from up there. You will be able to see the entire park from up there and other features such as the Half Dome, the Vernal Fall, the Nevada fall and the Cloud’s Rest. The best view is of the sunrise and sunset. The amazingly pink and pretty sunsets and sunrise will fill your soul with warm and cozy happiness. Even though the climb to the top may be a bit difficult, it will be all worth it at the top.

2. Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

If you think you have seen old and large trees then wait till you visit the Mariposa Grove. The giant sequoias do justice to their name. They are immensely huge and very old, some are about twenty-four hundred years old. A trip through this grove will feel like being in a movie and surrounded with giants. The path may be a bit difficult, but you will not be able to stop since the size of these trees will truly impress you. You will definitely appreciate the sheer grandness of the trees. Some of the ones to look out for is the Grizzly Giant, the Fallen Monarch, the Bachelor, the Faithful Couple and the Telescope trees. Each has their own characteristic and story behind their names. A visit to this grove is a must because this place is one of its kinds.

3. Yosemite Falls

The Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America, and thus this is very popular among tourists and locals. If you are in the Yosemite Park, then this waterfall is a must due to its sheer grandeur. The waterfalls down from a height of 739 meters which makes this the seventh highest waterfall in the world. There are trails to access the top and also the third stage of the fall is visible from a suitable location. There are high chances of rain so remember to bring your rain gear.

4. Tunnel view

The Tunnel View is the combination of El Capitan on the left, the Bridal Veil Fall on the right and the Half Dome on the axis. The view from here is mesmerizing, and tourists mainly come here for award-winning photographs. Do not expect to find any fun activity around here because all will be captivated by the view from here. It is easy to reach here and stock up on food and water so you can stay up here for a long time.

5. Bridal Veil Fall

Bridal Veil Fall - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

Certainly this is one of the most romantically named waterfalls in the world. The reason behind the story is that the 189-meter drop creates a white blanket of water and it gets more astonishing during a breeze. Even if you stand at a safe distance, you are sure to get wet due to the mist. The local tribe believed that the waterfall was the hiding spot of the spirit of Pohono. This is the reason for the name of the waterfall. This fall certainly creates a feeling of hiding something. Expect good photographs of this fall, and as a result, millions of people visit this place to simply capture the view in their lens.

6. Vernal Falls

It is a simple waterfall that is visible from a great distance and runs throughout the year. To reach the fall, there is a hiking trail that needs to be followed. The hiking is certainly the most interesting part of the journey to here. The views along the hiking trail and from the fall is beautiful and so do not forget your camera. Avoid swimming in the Emerald Pool since there is a high chance that you might be swept off by the powerful current.

7. Sentinel Dome

Until 2003, there used to be a Jeffrey Pine up on the dome. But now the Sentinel Dome serves a great tourist. Once up here you can star gaze and look around to take in the breathtaking view. You can see all the major spots from up here including the waterfalls. This place has some great options for camping. Trekking to here is relatively easy, so it is an easy to reach but a fun place to be in.

8. Nevada Falls

Nevada Falls - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

The Nevada Falls is 181 meters high, and the water creates a dramatic white mist all around itself that will surely get wet. When the water strikes the rock, it gives a distinct shape of the fall, and thus it results in a lot of good photographs. The Nevada Falls is the spiritual sister of the Vernal Falls and to reach this fall you need to start trekking from the Vernal Falls.

9. Ansel Adams Gallery

This gallery is located in the heart of Yosemite National Park and holds a lot of significance in the world of art and the park itself. Ansel Adams was a famous photographer whose main focus was this park. He would go on difficult and treacherous paths just to get a good photograph. He even participated in wildlife conservation activities since he knew the dangers of uncontrolled commercialization in the park. Though the gallery is small, it is free for all, and so you do not have to spend money to view the masterpieces that are exhibited there. The gallery contains exclusive photos and contemporary arts. This is a place you need to visit to see the adventure of the photographer and see the park through a lens.

10. Yosemite Museum

Tourist attractions in Yosemite National ParkImage Source: wikimedia.org

Do not expect this to be a huge museum which has dinosaur skeletons hanging from the ceiling. This museum was built with the belief that buildings are a part of the environment and not stand out from it. The design of this museum was based on the designs of houses by the early settlers. The exhibits of this museum are based on the Ahwahnechee Tribe. You can also get to see photos and sketches of the park and baskets woven by famous native weavers like Lucy Telles. This is the oldest museum that was set up by the park authorities.

11. El Capitan

El Capitan - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

El Capitan is depicted on the quarter dollar coin of America. However, the reason for its popularity is the huge number of opportunities for adventure sports and activities. El Capitan stands at a height of 7,573 feet and is a popular spot for adventure junkies and rock climbers. If you want to enjoy free climbing, base jumping, hiking or simply photography, then this is the best place for you.

12. Cook’s Meadow Loop

If you want to see the best that nature has got then Cook’s Meadow Loop is the perfect place for this. This is an all-weather location which attracts tourists from all over the world. You will get excellent views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and other spots from here. You can also relax by the lagoon by the bridge and watch the blooming wildflowers and the lush green meadows. This is the best place to take some photographs and relax after a long day of hiking and trailing.

13. El Capitan Meadow

If you think you have seen all the natural wonders of the park then you are in for a surprise. The El Capitan Meadow offers a majestic view of the greatest rock on earth, the El Capitan. You can also enjoy the sunset and kayak in the Merced River. There are several picnic shelters where you can spend some quality time with your family. 

14. Swinging Bridge Picnic Area

Things to do in Yosemite National ParkImage Source: wikimedia.org

If you are planning a picnic in the midst of nature, then the Swinging Bridge Picnic Area will be the perfect fit for you. This place is not too well known so you might find peace in this area with the absence of a crowd. As the name suggests, there is a bridge that was supposedly a hanging bridge way back, but now it is a sturdy wooden bridge. The place offers beautiful views of the surrounding and lets you relax and unwind.

15. Cathedral Bouldering

If you love mountaineering then the cathedral Bouldering is a place you cannot miss. Cathedral Bouldering has some of the most unique and beautiful granite walls, where you can try your hand at rock climbing. The best time to visit this is the summers, but you can also visit in winter and try skiing.

These are some of the things you can do and see in the Yosemite National Park. You will never get bored in here, and if you are planning a family vacation, then this is the perfect place. Here, you will get an opportunity to escape the grasps of the city and get closer to nature.

Author: Bhoomi Shah
If life is a journey, let me capture its every frame. This line aptly describes my dreams and aspirations. An ardent traveller, a foodie by birth, a lover of life and a simple person at heart.My dream is to travel every corner of the world and my jo...

Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Yosemite National Park

Check out the list of top tourist attractions in Yosemite National Park! These are some inspiring things to do in Yosemite National Park to create a wish list of your dream destinations.

  1. # 1 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 4590 times in trip plans
    Glacier Point

    Tags: Geological Formation, View Point, Nature

    Address: Glacier Point Rd, Mariposa, CA 95389, United States

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Go to a high point, take in the sights, come back, post the selfies on Facebook and then forget all about it – at least that’s how your typical high view-point trip goes. But you won&rsquo...Read more

  2. # 2 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 3768 times in trip plans
    Mariposa Grove Of Giant Sequoias

    Tags: Outdoors, Park, Hiking Trail

    Address: Mariposa Grove Road, Yosemite National Park, Fish Camp, CA 93623, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Big old trees, like, really big and really old trees. I can’t stress enough how big these guys are, but lets just say that Hagrid would feel quite like a hobbit among these big boys. It’s ...Read more

  3. # 3 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 4261 times in trip plans
    Yosemite Falls

    Tags: Outdoors, Waterfall, Nature

    Address: Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    The mere fact of being North America’s highest waterfall puts this lovely natural beauty on the top of many adventure lovers bucket list. The water plunges down in three stages; down a staggerin...Read more

  4. # 4 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 4196 times in trip plans
    Tunnel View

    Tags: Outdoors, View Point, Nature

    Address: Wawona Rd, Mariposa, CA, United States

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Sometimes Mother Nature lines up the perfect photograph and then leaves it there for us to find enlightenment in – or win photoplasty contests. The most beautiful attractions are the El Capitan ...Read more

  5. # 5 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 4009 times in trip plans
    Bridalveil Fall

    Tags: Outdoors, Waterfall, Nature

    Address: Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, California USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    This is possibly the most romantically named famous waterfall in the world – and imaginative too! The trek to the fall is easy and short, a 2 kms round trip – but it’s totally worth ...Read more

  6. # 6 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 4002 times in trip plans
    Half Dome

    Tags: Outdoors, Geological Formation, Trail, Nature

    Address: Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, California USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    This is one of Yosemite’s prime goodies and it’s most distinct rock formation. It’s one of the park’s hardest trails yet - also one of it’s most crowded. So much so that ...Read more

  7. # 7 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 3402 times in trip plans
    Vernal Fall

    Tags: Waterfall

    Address: Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, California USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    It’s a pretty straight forward waterfall. It runs throughout the year, is visible from miles around from many directions, and hiking to the falls is one of the must do activities at Yosemite &nd...Read more

  8. # 8 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 3047 times in trip plans
    Sentinel Dome

    Tags: Geological Formation, National Park

    Address: Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, California USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    The dome itself isn’t that great. Once upon a time there used to be a Jeffrey Pine on top of the peak but only until 2003. But the view is unbeatable – a 360 degree panorama with all of Yo...Read more

  9. # 9 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 2953 times in trip plans
    Nevada Fall

    Tags: Outdoors, Trail, Waterfall, Nature

    Address: Nevada Fall, Little Yosemite Valley, California, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Nevada is a 181 metres high waterfall. Nevada means snow and it’s almost immediately apparent why the waterfall was named thusly – having cascaded a third of the height, the water is a ste...Read more

  10. # 10 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 2439 times in trip plans
    Ansel Adams Gallery

    Tags: Art Gallery, Photo Gallery

    Address: 9031 Village Dr, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389, United States

    Timings: 09:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    Ansel Adams was a celebrated photographer and environmentalist whose greatest love was probably Yosemite Valley itself. Even from the very beginning of his career he took great care with his photograp...Read more

  11. # 11 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 2159 times in trip plans
    Yosemite Museum

    Tags: Art Museum, National Park, Specialty Museum

    Address: 9037 Village Dr, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389, United States

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    So what if this isn’t the epitome of a traditional museum. The Yosemite museum was built with the philosophy that buildings must become part of their environments and surroundings, not stand out...Read more

  12. # 12 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 734 times in trip plans
    El Capitan

    Tags: Outdoors, Geological Formation, Hiking Trail, Adventure

    Address: El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California 95389, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    El Capitan is famously seen on the quarter dollar coin of US and is the source for naming the Apple Macintosh operating system. However, its sheer adventure-sport pulse is one that truly puts it on th...Read more

  13. # 13 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 333 times in trip plans
    Cook's Meadow Loop Image

    Tags: Hiking Trail, Nature

    Address: Yosemite Valley, CA 95389, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Let the imagination of your wandering soul run wild at the Cook's Meadow Loop, your perfect place for an escape, with the best that nature can offer. Located in the Yosemite Valley, California, this i...Read more

  14. # 14 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 1 time in trip plans
    El Capitan Meadow

    Tags: Nature

    Address: California 95389 USA

    If you think that the best of Yosemite is yet to be discovered, come to capture a relaxing view of the majestic El Capitan Meadow, the most stunning rock on earth. Spend hours enjoying an excellent vi...Read more

  15. # 15 of 106 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park | Added 31 times in trip plans
    Swinging Bridge Picnic Area

    Tags: Picnic Spot

    Address: 9000 Southside Dr, Yosemite National Pk, CA 95389, USA

    Looking for a picnic area in Yosemite that is set in a stunning location and offers splendid views of the surroundings? The Swinging Bridge Picnic Area might just be the place you are looking for. Not...Read more

Activities And Tours

Explore these activities and tours for awesome experiences in Yosemite National Park: