Top 5 Things to Do at Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is on almost everyone’s bucket list, or at least it should be. As one of America’s most iconic national parks and the inspiration of John Muir, America’s renowned environmentalist, Yosemite has a lot to offer. Here, Yosemite expert and outdoor enthusiast, Scott Moses of LiveOnceLiveWild shares his top 5 things to do on a short visit to Yosemite National Park

Over 95 percent of Yosemite is designated wilderness, so if you really want to get to know the hidden side of the park, you’ll want to take at least a month to backpack around the bear country of Yosemite.

If you only have enough time for a couple day visit, however, what are the spots you simply cannot miss? Here’s my top five things to do at Yosemite National Park during a quick, but surely unforgettable visit.


Hike Half Dome

The massive granite rock of Half Dome is perhaps the most well-known physical feature at Yosemite. Even if you’ve never been to Yosemite, chances are that you’ve seen pictures of this Half Dome glowing in the sunset. The best part yet is that with a little stamina and determination, it can pretty easily be hiked in a day.

The hike up and down Half Dome is a 17-mile round trip, with the last part of the trip requiring the aid of cables to pull yourself up to the top. If you are brave enough, consider staying for the sunset on the top (simply otherworldly) and hike down with the aid of a good headlamp.

YosemiteEveryone loves waterfalls, and Yosemite is home to the highest waterfall in North America. You can hike to the top (around a 7-mile round trip) or simply take a simple trail to the lower falls. Whatever your plan, try to be there during the morning hours where the chances of seeing rainbows forming from the mist is greatest.

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

After enjoying the views from Half Dome or any of the dozens of other panoramic views of Yosemite Valley around the park, nothing is quite so cozy and inviting as finding yourself surrounded by a massive forest of Sequoia trees.


The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias at Yosemite is a great way to put life into perspective and contemplate the relative insignificance of your own problems in the greater scheme of things. There are a number of hikes and nature trails that will lead you into the heart of the forest.

Camp Out at Ostrander Lake

This mountain lake doesn’t generate the same fame as some of the attractions at Yosemite, and that´s a good thing for solitude lovers. If you can get a backcountry permit, hiking to and camping out at Ostrander Lake will give you all the peace and quiet you need to recharge your batteries. The blue hue of the lake makes it a perfect destination for a summer day’s swim as well.


Visit Horsetail Falls

This is another great waterfall that shouldn’t be passed up on. If you’re visiting in February, you might even be lucky enough to witness the Firefall; where the setting sun illuminates the falling water so that it appears to be on fire.

Even It’s Just for a Weekend, Get to Yosemite

A weekend visit to Yosemite simply won’t do justice to all that the park has to offer. However, if you’re in San Francisco for a quick business trip, bump that plane ticket back a day or two and make it a priority to visit the wonders of the park. From enthralling rock climbing adventures, to majestic hikes, to serene sunsets, you’ll be sure to have found a piece of heaven.

Want more suggestions or interested in other national parks and outdoor adventures, check out Scott’s website

Photo credits: Photos provided by LiveOnceLiveWild via flickr


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