There are a ton of Yosemite activities to take advantage of on your visit! We’ll show you what to do in Yosemite on your 5 day visit.
Yosemite National Park is arguably one of the most beautiful national parks in our nation. Having gotten married in the park, I’m a little biased, but there are few places in the world that can hold a candle to it!
I grew up going to Yosemite many summers, so I was excited to share this beautiful place with my husband. It’s become one of our favorite places to escape to. It’s hard to narrow down what to do in Yosemite, so we’ve put together the best 5 day Yosemite itinerary.
5 days is an optimum amount of time to experience the park if you can. It allows you to see many of the highlights, and still get to less-trafficked trails.
There is a general store in the park for any food or outdoor needs. But, if you are within driving distance to the park, we recommend packing your own cooler with all of the food items you need. As a result, you’ll save valuable time so you can get on the trails sooner! All of the campsites and tent cabins have bear lockers for any food you bring, very convenient.
We have still only seen a small portion of what the entire park has to offer, but here are our recommendations for what to do in Yosemite.
Arrive to Curry Village and check in to your tent cabin. Pack up your backpacks with a to-go dinner. We love bringing this brand, and pack our Jet Boil. Head to Tunnel View for some quintessential Yosemite photos. After that, continue up to park at Sentinel Dome/Taft Point parking area. We love Taft Point for it’s iconic rock, but we’re going to recommend taking the Sentinel Dome trail instead! Sentinel Dome is an easy hike and allows you to see both El Capitan and Half Dome (Taft Point you can only see El Capitan). Enjoy the sunset on top of the dome as it sets over these iconic rock formations. Sentinel Dome is also much less crowded than Glacier Point, and still gives you essentially the same view!
Wake up early and pack your lunch. We often bring pb+j and bread to make for our on the go meals. Eat a quick breakfast at Curry Village and head up to the lesser trafficked High Country! Drive along Tioga Pass to Tuolomne Meadows, stop and hike along the way. A must stop is the view from Olmsted Point. You’ll experience the opposite view from Tunnel View, looking down at the valley from the other side! Head back to the valley for dinner. If you plan on eating at The Ahwanhee, be sure to make your reservations WELL in advance of your trip for any dinners.
We love this day for a big hike! For instance, we recommend planning this day for Half Dome, if you got your lottery date. Otherwise, we love the long hike to Upper Yosemite Falls, or Vernal and Nevada Falls. If you are visiting July-October, be aware that the falls are not going to be as large and powerful as they are in the springtime, and by September are usually mostly dried up. The hikes are still lovely no matter the water content though, but the Mist Trail is definitely a different experience in the springtime 😉
Take it easy after your big hike and plan a day of bike riding and river rafting! The Merced River runs through the valley, and you can rent rafts at Curry Village when the river is high enough (before late summer). If you can’t rent rafts, you can rent bikes for either a half or a full day and explore the area. Bike down to Swinging Bridge and up to Mirror Lake (again, only a mirror of Half Dome in the Spring when it’s full of water). Stop along the way and eat lunch by the river and take off your shoes and wade through the ice-cold water! You can also pack your own intertube and float down the chilly river!
We love to take a leisurely morning and have breakfast at The Ahwanhee. Depending on what time you have to get on the road again, you could do your half-day of bike riding here. In the same vein, you could have time for a 2-3 hour hike, so you could finish up with Vernal Falls!
Have any other recommendations I missed? Have any questions about your trip in particular or the best times to visit? Leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you! Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places on earth, even if you can’t stay for our 5 day Yosemite itinerary, I highly recommend taking the time you can!