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How to Spend 3 Days in Yosemite National Park

How to Spend 3 Days in Yosemite National Park

Spending three days in Yosemite lets you explore the national park’s main areas, from the big walls of Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows’ subalpine landscape. Great road access and ample scenic overlooks mean you can find amazing vistas by car, while hiking trails lead to waterfalls, peaks, and sequoia forests. Here’s how to plan.

 

Day 1: Yosemite Valley Hiker

The postcard-ready views from Glacier Point are a spectacular introduction to Yosemite Valley, whose gems include Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and more. It’s an included first stop on many tours of Yosemite Valley, with a wheelchair-accessible, paved path and a steeper trail that leads to the valley floor. Once you reach the bottom, keep exploring on a hiking tour that’s tailored to your experience level and fitness—options range from kid-friendly walks to steep treks up the valley sides. The best hikes in Yosemite Valley include Lower Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Yosemite Falls Trail. A full-day hike up Half Dome might be the most famous in the park; guided tours help ensure a fun, safe day, but you’ll still need to secure a hiking permit months in advance.

Day 2: Visit Tuolumne Meadows

At 8,600 feet (2,621 meters) above sea level, subalpine Tuolumne Meadows shows a different side of the Sierra Nevada, with cooler air that’s especially welcome during midsummer months. Guided hiking tours of Tuolumne Meadows ensure you’re equipped for hiking, and trails can be as relaxed or challenging as you choose: Options include Mono Pass, Cathedral Lakes, Soda Springs, and Parson Lodge. Don’t miss a prehike stop at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, where you can learn about the area’s plants, animals, and geology. In the evening, the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center sometimes schedules ranger-led stargazing events, too, taking best advantage of Yosemite’s dark skies.

Day 3: Yosemite Photography Day

Snapping perfect shots of Yosemite requires a bit of planning, and photography tours can coordinate the best timing, shooting locations, and lens choices for the park’s constantly changing light. In the early morning, bring your camera to Tunnel View, Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove, or Nevada Falls. Afternoon is great for Vernal Falls, while sunset light illuminates Half Dome and the views from Taft Point. The most famous Yosemite photographer is Ansel Adams, whose black-and-white prints of the park remain touchstones; Ansel Adams–themed photography trips take in the photographer’s most iconic locations and often include tips on replicating beloved images. 

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8 Tours and Activities

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Full-Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour Including Hotel Pickup

Full-Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour Including Hotel Pickup

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183
Get acquainted with the landmarks and highlights of Yosemite National Park during this 9-hour day tour from Fresno or Oakhurst. Travel into the Yosemite Valley through the Southgate, then spend the day viewing and photographing some of the valley's best features such as Bridalveil Falls, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Yosemite’s high country.  Hike down the 4-Mile Trail (during the spring to fall) or choose to remain on the bus. Lunch will be provided and can be eaten along the trail. National Park entrance fees included.
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  • 9 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$159.00
From
$159.00

Private Family Hike in Yosemite

Private Family Hike in Yosemite

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20
Experience the monumental scenery of Yosemite on a guided, half-day hike designed especially for families. Choose from a beginning or moderate hike to suit your family’s experience level, and embark on a series of trails that wind through the famous natural attractions of either Yosemite Valley or the High Country. Enjoy spectacular views of one of America’s favorite national parks, and stop for a scenic picnic near a stream, lake or meadow.
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  • 4 to 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$166.67
From
$166.67

Private Guided Hiking Tour in Yosemite

Private Guided Hiking Tour in Yosemite

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59
Walk to soaring cliffs and alpine meadows on a private, guided hiking tour of Yosemite National Park. Tailor this 5- or 6-hour trip to your interests and ability, then find your perfect trail into the wilderness. Learn about the history and ecology of the High Sierra as you walk alongside your guide, and find uncrowded paths in the heart of the park. Enjoy a backcountry picnic and discover stunning views of the Yosemite Valley or High Country, or challenge yourself to take on a longer hike with more elevation gain.
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  • 4 to 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$250.00
Price varies by group size
From
$250.00
Price varies by group size

Guided Yosemite Hiking Excursion

Guided Yosemite Hiking Excursion

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62
Explore the stunning trails of Yosemite National Park on this guided hiking excursion. Select a specific hike for your skill level, with options ranging from beginner to strenuous, and enjoy the views from Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome, El Capitan, Half Dome and more. Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of this renowned landscape as you hike in the fresh air. An experienced guide will provide insightful commentary along the way.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$175.00
Price varies by group size
From
$175.00
Price varies by group size

Yosemite Valley Private Winter Hiking Tour

Yosemite Valley Private Winter Hiking Tour

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5
While Yosemite is at its most popular during the warm summer months, the beloved National Park is equally in the winter months, with fewer crowds and beautiful snowfall on many of the valley's surrounding peaks. With this customizable winter tour, you'll get to experience Yosemite in a way that interests you, with a wide option of activities running from hikes to museum tours.
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  • 4 to 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$262.50
Price varies by group size
From
$262.50
Price varies by group size

Private Guided Snowshoe Hike in Yosemite

Private Guided Snowshoe Hike in Yosemite

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5
Discover the stunning winter scenery of Yosemite National Park on a guided snowshoe hike that goes deep into the frozen landscape. Embark on a beginner trail or take on an extended option for this 4- or 6- hour adventure, and watch for the tracks that deer, coyote, bobcats and bears leave in the pristine snow. See the Yosemite Valley or the High Country, take in views of soaring rocks with an icy glaze, and experience the remarkable tranquility of this park’s quietest season.
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  • 4 to 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$250.00
Price varies by group size
From
$250.00
Price varies by group size

Experience Yosemite: Beginner or Advanced Photography Lesson

Experience Yosemite: Beginner or Advanced Photography Lesson

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5
Capture unforgettable images of Yosemite National Park with a 4-hour photography lesson for beginners or advanced photographers. Bring your camera and learn new techniques from an expert instructor, and watch the afternoon light transform the soaring cliffs, alpine rivers and high meadows of this remarkable landscape. Set up at a series of shooting locations that include iconic views and lesser-known sites as you follow in the footsteps of Ansel Adams, Carlton Watkins and Edward Weston in California’s most iconic national park.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$575.00
From
$575.00

Private Giant Sequoia Grove Hike or Snowshoe

Private Giant Sequoia Grove Hike or Snowshoe

Discover the towering Giant Sequoia trees of Yosemite during the winter on this half-day snowshoe hike. Hike through the Tuolumne and Merced groves to marvel at these 3,000-year old trees that reach heights upwards of 300 feet. Traverse the dense forests with hiking shoes or snowshoes, if there is a lot of snow on the ground, and learn about the biodiversity of the park.
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$262.50
Price varies by group size
From
$262.50
Price varies by group size