Yosemite National Park in California is a must-see for many RVers and has plenty of things to do throughout the park. Spanning close to 1,200 miles, the vast park is most famous for its ancient sequoia trees and some of the most stunning waterfalls in North America!
However, there’s more to do at this national gem than chase waterfalls and marvel at tall trees! Here are 10 things you must do when you visit Yosemite with your RV.
Hike to the top of Half Dome
Located on the eastern end of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome is a granite dome named for its unique shape. Hiking to the summit is not for the faint of heart, but those who complete the 16-mile round trip say that it is more than worth it.
The hike takes most people 10 to 12 hours to complete. Along the way, hikers take in the beauty of Vernal and Nevada Falls as well as panoramic views of Yosemite Valley.
The most daunting part of the hike are the Half Dome Cables. Two metal cables, which are up from roughly Memorial Day to Columbus Day, allow hikers to climb the last 400 feet to the summit without needing rock climbing gear.
If you plan to tackle the hike to the top of Half Dome, plan ahead because permits are required and numbers are limited to protect the wilderness.
Wander through Mariposa Grove
Giant Sequoias are what come to mind for most people when you mention Yosemite National Park and Mariposa Grove is the largest grove of them in the park. Located in the southern portion of the park near Wawona, there are over 500 mature giant sequoias in this grove.
Access to the grove is via two miles of hiking trails from the parking lot at the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza. If you’re traveling with bikes, you can ride on the paved portion of Mariposa Grove Road to a parking area at Grizzly Giant.
Once at the grove, you have your choice of hiking trails ranging from easy to strenuous, with Grizzly Giant being the most well-known.
Wonder at the View from Glacier Point
For stunning views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls in one-stop, Glacier Point is a must. The overlook is accessible by car from late May through late October, making it a popular destination for tourists of all ages and abilities.
A short, paved trail takes you from the parking lot to the overlook point, which is over 3,000 feet above Curry Village in Yosemite Valley.
Stroll Through Tuolumne Meadows
At 8,600 feet above sea level, Tuolumne Meadows is one of the vastest high-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The large, open meadow is surrounded by stunning mountain peaks and domes.
Visitors to the meadows marvel at the Tuolumne River cascading over its granite bottom and the vast diversity of plant species in the area. There are a variety of hikes to choose from, ranging from an easy one-hour stroll to the strenuous all-day hike to Vogelsang Lake.
Explore the Less Crowded Hetch Hetchy
If crowds aren’t your thing, a visit to Hetch Hetchy Valley is a must. Tucked away in the northwest corner of the park, the area is known for being a peaceful retreat year-round, and visitors are rewarded with views of remote lakes, astonishing peaks, and hidden canyons.
The biggest difference between Hetch Hetchy Valley and the more well known Yosemite Valley is the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. It winds between the granite for close to 8 miles.
One important thing to note is that while Hetch Hetchy is located within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park, it is accessed through a different entrance from the rest of the park. You’ll need to head toward the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station to get to this beauty.
Drive Through Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley is arguably the most famous part of Yosemite National Park. It’s home to the majority of the famous cliffs and waterfalls that most people have heard of.
The valley is open year-round, but you should expect to encounter traffic and congestion during the peak season from April to May. The park sees millions of visitors during this time! When it comes to things to do in Yosemite National Park, you and everyone else will be partaking in this activity.
One of the best ways to truly take in Yosemite Valley is through the 13 mile Valley Loop Trail. The trail follows many of the valley’s first wagon roads, making it a fairly level walk through meadows, near the Merced River, and talus slopes at the base of granite cliffs.
Another highlight of Yosemite Valley is the Valley Visitor Center, which is your one-stop-shop for anything park related, including maps and guidebooks.
Lastly, don’t miss the Ansel Adams Gallery located near the visitor center. The gallery showcases the work of legendary landscape artist Ansel Adams as well as works by other artists.
Watch Rock Climbers Scale El Capitan
Located on the north end of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan is a 3,000-foot granite rock formation. The sheer granite face is a major challenge that many in the rock climbing world aim to conquer. If you’re into rock climbing, this should be at the top of your list of things to do in Yosemite National Park.
There are many routes established today, but the most famous and most challenging is The Nose. You don’t have to be into scaling rocks yourself to enjoy the challenge. Just block out a little time during your trip to sit back and watch rock climbers attempt the feat!
Take a Picture from Tunnel View
Tunnel View came to fame due to Ansel Adams’ work and it’s a must-stop for any visitor to Yosemite. The scenic viewpoint is located on State Route 41. From the viewpoint, you can see El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls with Half Dome in the background.
It’s easy to access via car, but very crowded in the summer, so plan to snap your photo early in the day.
Admire the Majesty of Yosemite Falls
When it comes to things to do in Yosemite National Park, this is one of the most popular. As one of the tallest waterfalls in North America, Yosemite Falls is impressive to view. The falls flow from November through July with the peak flow typically happening in May.
Visitors can see the falls from numerous places in Yosemite Valley, especially near Yosemite Valley Lodge and Yosemite Village. A simple, one-mile loop trail will take you to the base of the falls, while a strenuous all-day hike can take adventure seekers to the top.
Picnic Along Merced River
The Merced River is a popular spot for recreation within Yosemite National Park and the perfect place to have a picnic. There are several picnic areas available, with many visitors flocking to Cathedral Beach. You’ll have plenty of majestic nature views and people watching to enjoy. Swimming, fishing, and rafting are also popular activities in this area.
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