Exploring California: 2 days in America’s oldest national park, Yosemite!
Our road trip
We went to Yosemite National Park for 2 days. We’ve been wanting to visit the park since we moved to America. We knew we would be moving west one day and were willing to wait until we did to see it. A year after moving to San Francisco, we finally made it to Yosemite in a summer month. We love the mountains!
What is Yosemite National Park? Where is it?
Yosemite National Park is America’s oldest national park in Northern California. It is a park with beautiful mountains, waterfalls, and lakes. There are tons of hikes and view points throughout the park and the landscape is one of a kind. It’s around a 4-5 hour drive one way from San Francisco dependent on traffic. It’s quite a long drive and the roads are a bit windy.
Since we live in San Francisco, we drove and rented a car. We considered using Zipcar, but after calculating the cost, we ended up using Economy Rent a Car. It was ~135 USD for a 2 day rental and ~75 USD for gas the entire trip. It took us around 9-10 hours to get there and back from San Francisco. For each day, we drove around 2-4 hours each day we were in Yosemite National Park because the park is so big!
Where do you stay?
If you’d like to save some of your budget, you can camp/sleep in your car. However, if you prefer to stay in a hotel/rental, there are plenty of options as well. Staying a hotel/rental is quite expensive and you have to book early if you’re visiting during the summer months. We booked a week before and we didn’t have many options left. We stayed at Tenaya Lodge, which is a more comfortable hotel than we usually stay at. Tenaya Lodge is very nice and spacious; there are several restaurant in the lodge area.
~3.5 hrs of driving
Taft Point: It’s 30 minute hike from trail head to an amazing view of the mountains and valley. We saw some wild deer here and watched the sunrise.
Glacier Point: Amazing view of the valley and a great shot of the Half Dome from far. If you walk just 5-10 minutes up hill from the parking lot, there’s a spot with just as great of view, but without people.
Tunnel View: This view was halfway from Glacier Point to Yosemite Valley. This is another amazing view point where you can see the valley, El Capitan, and Half Dome.
Yosemite Valley: This is a valley of Yosemite. There are restaurants, places to stay, and a grocery store here. There are also amazing view of the mountains (El Capitan and Half Dome) from a ground view.
Village Store: Grocery store in Yosemite Valley where we bought tortillas, salami, and mixed greens to build a little lunch for ourselves.
Wawona Swimming Hole: This is a little swimming area not too far from the entrance of Yosemite National Park. On a nice hot day, you can lay around on the rocks and dip into the cold flowing water.
Embers (Dinner @ Tenaya Lodge): We had dinner where we stayed. It was around ~30-40 USD for a main crouse meal, but the food was decent. It was American cuisine.
~2 hrs within Yosemite National Park (~7 hrs including Din Tai Fung and driving back to San Francisco)
Glacier Point: We went back to Glacier Point for sunrise and we got to watch the sun peak right above the mountain which created an amazing yellow sparkle.
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias: We did the Giant Grizzly Loop, which is ~2 mile hike. It’s quite an easy hike as there is a paved path along all the amazing tall trees!
Din Tai Fung @ Santa Clara: Our favorite restaurant! Whenever we can get to a Din Tai Fung in any country, we try to make it happen. We stopped by there on our way back to San Francisco. Soup dumplings, pork chop fried rice, vegetable and mushroom dumplings, and more!
Yes, absolutely! We feel like we’ve only seen part of it and can’t wait to see more. Make sure to get advantage of this beautiful national park if you live nearby!