20 Best & Fun Things to Do In Yosemite

Are you eager to know about the fun things to do in Yosemite? Stay with me! Yosemite was where different people, including artists, climbers, and nature lovers, drew inspiration a long time ago.

Since the early 20th century, a man called Ansel Adams took terrific black & white pictures of Yosemite, which attracted so many people to the park’s beautiful landscapes and legendary areas like never before.

Located in California, United States, Yosemite is littered with natural wonders that you can watch with amazement and satisfaction and is worth spending time on.

The city features magnificent mountains and valleys, which campers and hikers both far and near come to lose themselves and tour around.

There are several fun things to partake in Yosemite, including taking your time out in Half Dome, Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove, John Muir Trail & the Mist Trail. It also features Tuolumne Meadows, a center that houses a treasure trove of hardly visited trails. Need handpicking where you should go?

Below is a list of the fun and exciting things to do while in Yosemite!

Fun Things to Do In Yosemite

1. Yosemite Falls

Located just at the tip of the Yosemite cliff is the Yosemite Falls, which is among the most impressive and stunning features of Yosemite Valley.

It drops at approximately 2,425 feet from the top of the upper fall to the tip of the lower fall, tumbles over a granite hedge and hits the rocks at the cliff, and continuously gushes out over treetops and around corners.

While driving through the valley, you could see the different looks of the falls from all angles, and you can’t resist the temptation of looking at them quite often.

Situated in the Sierra Nevada of California, you can see the fall from wherever you are, as you don’t need to hike or drop from your car to appreciate its wonders.

However, from the beginning of the Yosemite Falls hike, along the non-handicapped pathway on the left side of the river is where you can have a perfect view of the waterfalls.

You won’t find it difficult to walk to the tip of the falls and will feel the mist sprinkling on you. You can also see it from the picnic area located at the Swing Bridge.

Address: Yosemite Village, CA 95389, United States

See Also: Fun Things to Do in LA California

2. Half Dome

Half Dome is among the most popular and first big climbing centers in the Yosemite. It is an iconic granite climb that looks very different based on the side you see it from.

You can see the massive nature of the wall when you look at it from its sheer rock face from the valley, thus, explaining why it’s a very enticing option for climbers.

It rises close to 5,000 feet over the Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet above sea level, making it very competitive among skillful hikers. Initially, rumors have it that no hiker has ever stepped on it as much as the tread.

Still, in 1875, a hiker called George Anderson attained its summit, thereby laying a foundation for others to follow through its cable route.

So many people today have succeeded in attaining the summit. Most hikers see it as a fun and arduous hike, while others see it as an adventure than they had expected.

Most hiking adventures are trips into the Wilderness, which may or may not assure you of safety. Generally, if you are a hiker or fan, you’ll enjoy the journey to Half Dome.

Address: 577 Yosemite, California 95389, United States

3. Glacier Point

At 7 214 feet above Curry Village, the Glacier Point is a giant structure made of granite and reaches out to the Yosemite Valley.

It is a commanding vista that occupies the most famous landmarks of the park, namely, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Liberty Cap, Vernal and Nevada Falls, and the nearby High Sierra.

Situated on the south wall of Yosemite Valley, the Glacier Point takes up to one hour so either by car or bus if you’re going from Yosemite Valley. However, you can hike the strenuous yet scenic four-mile trail to get a more precise and extensive sight.

You can tour with your family to enjoy the accessible Taft Point and Sentinel Dome trails that start at a similar parking lot but proceed in opposite directions.

In the summer, Glacier Point is usually occupied by tourists. But during the winter, it is usually closed because of snow, and gaining access to the Badger Pass Ski Area is only by ski or Snowshoe.

Glacier Point features an external amphitheater designed for evening ranger meetings, a huge log cabin with a snack stand and gift shop, and a little stone house called the Geology Hut, established in 1924 as a trailside museum. But it is currently essential for photo ops.

Address: Glacier Point Road, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389, United States.

4. Yosemite Valley

Located in Yosemite National Park in Central California’s western Sierra Nevada mountains, the Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley around 7.5 m long and 3,000 to 3,500 feet deep. It is anchored by high granite mountains like Half Dome and El Capitan and densely surrounded by pines.

Yosemite Valley is a center of several famous cliffs and waterfalls, making Yosemite National Park a well-known center that you can access with your car or bus every year.

It features different activities like Art & Photography, Biking, Birdwatching, Fishing, Hiking & Walking, Ice Skating, Stargazing, etc.

It also features several others, including Ranger & interpretive Programs, Tours, Water Activities, and Camping. Note that even as you are free to come to Yosemite, you will experience traffic congestion, primarily in Yosemite Valley at park entrances.

Hence, if you’re coming during the day by car, you should be arriving before 9 am. Anything beyond that will be something else.

Address: around Tuolumne and Mariposa, north and east to Mono & South to Madera County

5. Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

If you want to gain access to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, it would be through a four-mile round-trip hike featuring 500 feet of elevation change. Unfortunately, the hiking routes are often filled with snow or ice during the winter. 

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is situated within the southern part of Yosemite and is widely considered the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite city. It accommodates more than 500 mature giant sequoias and houses the national park.

You are expected to come along with drinking water that will keep everybody in your section hydrated, as you will hardly see any drinking water in the whole of Mariposa Grove. However, it features portable toilets.

Unfortunately, the primary trail to the Grizzly Giant is currently closed because of a storm disaster. However, you can access the Grizzly Giant via the service road like several hikers. 

Address: Mariposa Grove Road, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

6. Tunnel View

Located just outside the Wawona Tunnel on State Highway 41, the Tunnel View is the widespread view established by Ansel Adams.

You can’t see this view on your first visit to Yosemite without being tempted to stop by for a closer look. Meanwhile, it doesn’t require any hiking, as you can easily park at any of the parking lots and proceed towards the vista.

The Tunnel View is very famous, especially during the summer; hence, you must make it to the venue. You’ll have to go through several tunnels entering the Yosemite Valley through Wawona Road.

Again, its last tunnel exit will bring you into the valley featuring a stunning view of El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and Half Dome.

Immediately as the new season approaches, the vista changes to reveal something new, however, the perfect time to view the Tunnel View is in the early spring (when Bridalveil Fall is at its highest flow) and winter, when the gorgeous granite domes are draped in snow and mist.

Address: Wawona Road, California, U.S.A.

7. Tioga Pass

Located within the Sierra Nevada of California, the Tioga Pass is a mountain pass, the highest highway pass in California, and the Sierra Nevada.

You can see State Route 120 running through it, thereby used as the eastern entry point for Yosemite National Park at the Tioga Pass Entrance Station.

However, the Tioga Pass, considered the extension of Highway 120 via the park, has been temporarily shut down for the season since October 21, 2021. However, it remains accessible to cars from late May or June till around November. Therefore, you can join in the plowing that starts on April 15.

Address: Sierra Nevada, California, U.S.A.

8. El Capitan

Situated in Yosemite Valley, the iconic granite walls of the El Capitan dominate the west end of the city. It sits at over 3,000 feet above the valley ground, which is two and half times as high as the building of the Empire State or even over thrice as tall as the edge of the Eiffel Tower.

El Capitan is so big that it can sometimes fill your field of sight to the extent that it moves you to tears.

As a result, it serves as a visitor’s beacon, a photographer’s muse, and among the world’s most extraordinary tasks for climbers. You can access this magnificent structure every year, as it looks as majestic as ever.

As long as photography is concerned, it often causes the stormy winter seasons to create the most thrilling light featuring dramatic clouds swirling around the cliff face. Are you searching for climbers? You’ll undoubtedly find them every season.

However, you’ll find a spring and fall big-wall climbing season in Yosemite’s moderately warm or cold temperatures when you’ll get to see these climbers.

Address: Mariposa County, California, U.S.A.

9. Mist Trail

Situated in Yosemite National Park, the Mist Trail is among the most famous dwarf hikes in California, U.S.A. It is a steep hike through the Merced River, beginning from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley, proceeding beyond Vernal Fall and Emerald Pool, and then to Nevada Fall.

For a perfect view of the Vernal Fall, go through the footbridge at 0.75 miles (1.3 km). Then, a divergence between the Mist Trail and the John Muir Trail lies across the bridge.

Meanwhile, you can go over the Vernal Fall and the Nevada Falls using the John Muir Trail and the Clark Point cutoff. Or converge the Mist Trail and John Muir Trail to form a loop.

If you want to move up to the tip of the Vernal Fall, you’ve to pass through the Mist Trail 0.5 mile (0.8 km), moving up a curved vertical stairway of more than 600 steps.

You should expect slippery footing and a high rate of waterfall spray during the spring and early summer. However, you can often access this trail all through the summer period.

Address: Yosemite National Park, California 95389, U.S.A.

See Also: Fun Things to Do In La Jolla (CA)

10. Vernal Fall

Even though the Vernal Fall is not tall as the Yosemite Falls, it is famous for the foliage that hovers around it every year and the rainbow mist it forms while the water is cascading.

Nonetheless, Vernal Fall is a 317-foot (96 meters) waterfall situated above the Merced River along Nevada Fall, Yosemite National Park.

It is regarded as one of the most potent waterfalls you will ever find in Yosemite city. Unlike the other waterfalls like Yosemite and Bridalveil Falls, you cannot see the Vernal from your position on the valley floor by vehicle. You have to climb the trail to have a clearer picture of it.

Fortunately, there are several more accessible properly-marked paths, such as the one that starts close to the Happy Isles Nature Center, by hiring a bus or trekking from Curry Village.

From the Happy Isles Nature Center, you can go through the trailhead to Vernal Fall Footbridge or continue until you get to the top of the waterfall.

During the winter season, precisely from late April to early May, the trail leading to the edge of Vernal Fall generally stays open, thereby giving you free access to walk a mile to the footbridge and take a more clear view from the tip of the falls.

Address: Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

11. Bridalveil Falls

Bridalveil Falls is the first waterfall you’ll often see whenever you enter Yosemite Valley and plunges 620 feet (189 meters) high. It tends to thunder during the spring season; other than that, it often generates characteristic light, wavering flow.

A paved path from the parking space to the waterfall’s edge flows yearly. Since the water from the Bridalveil Fall is usually at its full flow during the spring and early summer seasons, it could wet you.

There are few cases when the sprinkling is very strong that the trail’s end could even be challenging to access.

During the winter, you can always expect very icy and slick conditions. Therefore, you should remain on the paved trail, as the rocks and boulders over the viewing platform may be slippery even when they are dry.

If you scramble off the path, you will incur severe injuries. Parking lots and restrooms are available at the trailhead, but drinking water is not.

Address: Sierra Nevada in Yosemite National Park, east-central California, U.S.

12. Sentinel Dome

Located on the south wall of Yosemite Valley and close to Glacier Point, the Sentinel Dome is a granite dome that offers numerous great things about Yosemite National Park in a smooth 2.2-mile package. Its trailhead is 0.8 miles southwest of Glacier Point and 1.4 miles northeast of Profile Cliff.

You will recognize the Sentinel Dome when you see a Jeffrey Pine growing from its base. Climbing the granite dome through its iconic trails will provide you with significantly clearer views of every activity in the park. However, it is usually not accessible during the winter.

Also, never try to hike during thunderstorms or lighting for security purposes, as the domes often get struck by lightning.

Even though the parking lots are often filled up, you will always find space, as people usually come and go, creating space. However, you can pick a spot to park on Glacier Point Road. There are local bathrooms at the trailhead.

Address: Taft Point Trailhead, Glacier Point Road, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

13. Tenaya Lake

Situated just between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, the Tenaya Lake is an alpine lake with a surface elevation of 8,150 feet.

Its basin was created through the glacial action that occurred at the time, thereby leaving a backdrop of light granite rocks, an attraction familiar to the Native Americans.

It was named Tenaya Lake after Chief Tenaya, the last chief of the Yosemite Indians, and is considered the largest lake in Yosemite.

Due to Tenaya Lake’s stunning scenic features, beautiful blue water, and closeness to Tioga Road have become a famous and enticing prospect for summer visitations from people both far and near.

It offers exciting activities like picnicking, swimming, and canoeing. However, for safety purposes, make sure you drive with care, as there may be bears and other wildlife on or close to the park roads.

Also, be cautious of potential hazards on park roads like wet and icy conditions or debris along the pathway, particularly during the spring or fall.

Address: Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, California, U.S.A.

14. Tuolumne Meadows

Feel free to discover the human and natural history of Tuolumne Meadows as you hike to the center where the famous John Muir and Robert Underwood Johnson initiated the idea of building the Yosemite National Park. 

Tuolumne Meadows features a vast, spacious subalpine meadow, which houses the winding Tuolumne River and is surrounded by stunning peaks and domes.

You can take a 47-mile scenic drive between Crane Flat and Tioga Pass via forests and across meadows, lakes, and granite domes from Tioga Road.

You’ll discover several turnouts with broad and beautiful vistas. And you can only access Tioga Road from late May or June to October or November.

Make sure you come with your private food, water, and other services you may need, as you might not get them in Tuolumne Meadows in the first month after the Tioga Road opening and from September before its closure.

There are many activities to enjoy in Tuolumne Meadows, including art & photography, auto touring, camping, birdwatching, fishing, backpacking, hiking & walking, stargazing, picnicking, tours, and stock use, ranger & interpretive programs, and water activities, amongst others.

Do not miss out on these fun-filled activities in Tuolumne Meadows.

Address: East Highway 120, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

15. Panorama Trail

Featuring a marked trail in Yosemite National Park, the Panorama Trail descends towards the south wall of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point.

It goes over many notable waterfalls to Happy Isles. It came from the panoramic vistas, particularly at the Panorama Point, seen along the pathway.

Even though it is not as popular and well known as Half Dome Hike, Yosemite Falls Hike, and the Mist Trail, the Panorama Trail is considered the most scenic trail in Yosemite.

If you a fan of full-day hiking, then you must not look past this trail, as it reveals the park’s natural treasures.

You can enjoy this trail in many ways.

As long as a moderate hike is concerned, you can begin from Glacier Point to the Valley Floor, either by bus one way or leave a vehicle on top of the Glacier Point, as you’ll come back for it later. 

Beginning from the Glacier Point gives you clearer views of the legendary Half Dome and the high peaks of the Clarke Range.

However, you can get a true highlight by peering down into Yosemite Valley, approximately 2,700 feet beneath.

Even though the Panorama Trail lies only 8.5 miles long, it usually takes people between 4 to 6 hours to complete the trail one way.

There are many incredible vistas and rushing waterfalls to spend time your time and several granite steps along the Mist Trail that usually slow down the pace as the day runs out. Therefore, you can create much time to enjoy the trail without being hurried.

Address: Glacier Point Road, Yosemite Village, CA 95389, United States.

16. Yosemite Hiking

You would certainly be missing a lot by visiting Yosemite without touching some of the best hiking trails in the area. The national park features a complete range of hikes, from quick and easy, including some with wheelchair-accessible paths, to full-day or multi-day hikes.

The most common and widely known trails include hiking to waterfalls or out to high overlooks; however, you are also free to wander to alpine lakes and meadows. The busiest and the most visited are often the shorter and most straightforward trails in the valley.

But you can evade the crowds if you can take on some of the longer hikes or those with more elevation gain. Hikes that are mostly less busy lie towards Tioga Road, but you can only access them during the summer season.

 One of the popular hikes in the park is the Half Dome, a big day hike featuring 4,800 feet of elevation gain and an open section with cables. 

Other less difficult and family-friendly ones include Mirror LakesVernal Fall Footbridge hike, and beyond the footbridge to the Mist Trail.

When Tioga Road is open during the summer period, you are free to hike through several gorgeous alpine sceneries. The Sentinel Dome and Taft Point hikes along the Glacier Road are well-known sunset trails, which are also seasonal, yet often have longer seasons.

Address: Yosemite Mariposa County, home of Yosemite National Park, U.S.A.

17. Camping

Yosemite is a small yet attractive city featuring camping grounds that offer tourists, families, and climbers a perfect place for camping and has been in existence for decades.

The best way to experience the park is by camping, as it helps you wake up on location and get ready for another day of exploration or hiking.

The Yosemite national park features several attractive campgrounds for you to pick from. But, the most commonly known ones among visitors include the likes of North Pines, Upper Pines, and Lower Pines. Climbers go to the infamous Camp 4.

You are also free to rent tents and cabins at Curry Village. If you plan to camp but find it challenging to get a campsite in the park, there are several excellent campgrounds or R.V. parks outside the gates. 

Address: National Park, Yosemite, CA 95389, U.S.A.

18. Yosemite Museum and Indian Village

Are you looking for some wonders to behold in Yosemite? Think no further than Yosemite Museum and Indian Village, where you will get to see and learn everything about the first persons that ever lived in the valley.

Yosemite is a city that is not only littered with natural wonders but also features the Sierra Nevada region that has existed for over 3,000 years.  

The museum features artifacts, and docents are always available to attend to you in terms of demonstrations and answer questions.

Several bark-covered homes are located at the back of the building, established in the traditional style and occupied by the Miwok citizens. They initially lived there before later being replaced by Euro-American-style buildings.

The museum will not cost you anything and is conveniently situated in Yosemite Village, so it is referred to as Yosemite Museum and Indian Village.

Address: Yosemite Valley, CA 95389, United States

See Also: Fun Things to Do in Ithaca (NY)

19. Yosemite Biking

You can come along with your family and friends and witness some of the best biking activities in Yosemite. If you are good at biking, you are free to participate in some of the most straightforward biking routines and competitions you will ever see.

Aside from biking on the roads, the park offers 12 miles of space of paved paths where you can freely bike. There are several notable places where you can bike, like the paved service road along the north side of the river, leading to Mirror Lake.

Several persons trail this stretch, but you can easily bike towards the beginning of the lake and trek to the final short area to the upper part of the lake.

You will also find another loop that lies east of Curry Village (initially called Half Dome Village), skirting along the Upper Pines Campground and skipping past the trailhead for Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, and the John Muir Trail.

You can only access this road with bikes, pedestrians, shuttle buses, and wheelchair-transporting vehicles. Feel free to rent Bicycles at Curry Village.

Address: Yosemite National Park, PO Box 577, CA 95389

20. Ansel Adams Gallery

The Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite goes beyond the boundaries of the Yosemite city, but the park was also named after him. Through his popularity, you can quickly discover the park because that is where he established his numerous popular images.

He has striking black and white photos of Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, and Jeffrey Pine, which feature some of his most renowned works. His little gallery also contains an attractive stop, especially when viewing from within the Yosemite Village.

You might not be planning to purchase any of the art pieces, but you may be motivated to create your work of artistry after seeing some of these great Ansel Adams artwork on display in this gallery.

The store is open to selling various things, including Ansel Adams’s original photos, reproductions, posters, and books.

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