Yosemite is fantastic. The landscape is stunning, and the opportunities for hiking, climbing, and biking are plentiful.
We spent most of our week in Yosemite Valley, taking in the waterfalls and cliffs throughs some short day hikes, but when possible we tried to find a little elbow room in a crowded park.
We hiked a strenuous couple miles to Columbia Point rock and back. I scoffed at a two mile round trip hike being called strenuous in the guidebook, but it really was hard. It took us three hours. There are many, many, many switchbacks, and they kicked our tails.
Exploring Yosemite Valley by car is a nightmare. There is often bumper to bumper traffic and parking is a pain.
Our best day exploring the park was when we biked around Yosemite Vallley.
There are ten miles of paved bike paths around Yosemite Valley that will quickly deliver you to all of the major highlights, like Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake, and the Isles, but also the paths will help you get away from the crowds.
We found a lot of room to explore because our bikes took us beyond the foot traffic and on roads closed to cars. We had a quiet picnic above Mirror Lake, and we found some streams and meadows for playing.
We got lucky and crossed the path of a big black bear. We followed it into a field to take pictures, but it turns out I’m not great at shooting moving wildlife. I took about 50 pictures, and the best one is a slightly blurry image of the bear behind a fallen tree.
Only a Weekend at Yosemite National Park
If I only had a weekend in Yosemite National Park, I would take or rent a bike to ride around the Valley Floor. You can take in the Yosemite highlights and dodge some of the crowds.
I would also try to camp or stay in the Valley. Yosemite is huge. If you stay outside of the Valley (like we did at Hogdon Meadow), you could be looking at a 45 minute drive just to get to the Valley.
Katie shared some of her tips for tackling Yosemite in her article, Yosemite is Beatiful, but…
Our Yosemite National Park Photos