Yosemite National Park has long established itself as one of the best national parks in the United States. On average, Yosemite welcomes four million visitors each year! With its prime locations for hiking, climbing, and wildlife viewing, there’s no question of why. Ideally, everyone would be able to spend several days in Yosemite. After all, it’s a massive park with six different sections and 3,080 square kilometres of land. But we get it. That’s just not possible all the time. This article is specifically for people looking to spend 2 days in Yosemite National Park. So whether you’re only around for a weekend getaway or a stop on a road trip, this 2-day Yosemite itinerary is perfect for you.
As with all of our itineraries, it’s important to note that this guide is just a structured suggestion of what you can do during your time in Yosemite National Park. It is by no means the only acceptable 2-day Yosemite itinerary. So feel free to adjust this guide to fit your preferences, whether that means taking activities out, putting some in, or changing up the order.
Interested in checking out other parks on the west coast? Here are 9 More Epic Places to Road Trip to on the West Coast This Summer!
Day 1: Visit the Famous Yosemite Valley
No trip to Yosemite National Park would be complete without a stop in Yosemite Valley. Since there are so many wonderful things to see, we’ve dedicated the entire first day to this part of the park.
Catch the Sunrise from Valley View
Since you only have 2 days in Yosemite National Park, you’ll want to get an early start to make the most of your time. Your first stop: sunrise at Valley View.
Valley View is one of the most popular sunrise spots in Yosemite. This particular viewpoint lets visitors see the beautiful sunrise along with famous sites like El Capitan and the Twin Cathedral Rocks and Spires.
Take in the Views from Tunnel View
Just around the corner from Valley View is Tunnel View, so why not visit both? From there, you’ll be able to see many of the best sites in Yosemite National Park, including Half Dome, El Capitan, and Bridalveil Fall. Add the thriving green trees and the towering mountains to the mix, and you’ll be taking more pictures than you can count!
Trek to Bridalveil Fall
After seeing Bridalveil Fall, you’ll inevitably want to get a closer look! Luckily, the hike to this waterfall is quite reasonable. The Bridalveil Fall trail is only about 0.8 kilometres round-trip, and at the end you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking 189-metre waterfall!
Hike (Part of) the Valley Loop Trail
Since Yosemite is a national park, just one hike per day won’t do! If you have the energy (maybe after a relaxing picnic lunch), we recommend hiking part of the Valley Loop Trail as well.
The whole Valley Loop Trail is 18.5 kilometres long. Unless you’re an avid hiker, that’s probably too much, especially since you woke up to see the sunrise. But there is an option to a smaller 11.6-kilometre loop on this hike. That’s the trail we recommend. While that may still seem a bit long, the entire trail is flat, which makes it more doable.
This half-loop trail takes hikers to many of the highlights of the longer hike, including the Merces River, El Capitan, and the El Capitan Bridge. It’s a great way to spend a few hours just enjoying the beauty of nature in Yosemite National Park.
If the 11.6-kilometre half loop trail is still too much, that’s totally understandable! You can just do a short portion of the loop trail as an out-and-back hike. We recommend starting the hike near shuttle stop #7 and walking towards Sentinel Beach. That way, you’ll get to walk along the lovely Merced River.
Stargaze at El Capitan Meadow
There are lots of noteworthy stargazing points in Yosemite National Park. But one that’s not far from the Yosemite Valley Loop Trail is El Capitan Meadow.
Stargazing at El Capitan Meadow is a unique experience. Of course, there are hundreds of stars that you can see from most fantastic stargazing spots. But El Capitan itself is still in the area, so it blocks off part of the sky.
While that sounds like a con, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The star-filled sky is a cool contrast to this striking cliffside. It makes you realise just how many stars light up the night sky. And if you really pay attention, you might be able to get a glimpse of climbers setting up for their night on El Capitan.
Day 2: Check Out the Many Viewpoints
Views, views, and more views! That’s what day 2 in Yosemite National Park is all about.
Gape in Awe at the Trees of Mariposa Grove
Mariposa Grove is stunning. Officially known as the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, this area boasts 500 massive sequoia trees. As a matter of fact, a few of these trees are over 200 feet tall!
Hike the Grizzly Giant Loop Trail
Of course, day two of your 2 days in Yosemite also includes a hike! This time, it’s the two-mile Grizzly Giant Loop Trail. This particular hike allows you to take in gorgeous views of the towering sequoia trees. You’ll even get to pass the 3,000-year-old Grizzly Giant and the famous California Tree Tunnel.
Explore the Lower Chilnualna Falls Trail
After you finish up the Grizzly Giant Loop Trail, you’ll want to take a break for a meal or a snack before your next adventure: a hike to Lower Chilnualna Falls!
The hike to Lower Chilnualna Falls is a short, 0.6-mile adventure. But don’t let the distance fool you! There is a bit of elevation gain, so this is usually rated as a moderate hike. That said, this hike is totally worth it – even if you’re doing two hikes in a row.
At the end of the Lower Chilnualna Falls Trail, you’ll be rewarded with views of a beautiful, 15-metre waterfall!
If that one waterfall isn’t enough for you, you can continue hiking. The entire Chilnualna Falls Trail is 13.5 metres round trip. In addition to seeing Lower Chilnualna Falls, you’ll also get to see two more cascades. After the 15-metre waterfall, there’s a 30-metre one and then a 70-metre one! They’re both definitely amazing sights to see.
Take in the Views at Washburn Point
As you drive from Lower Chilnualna Falls Trail to Taft Point, you’ll notice that things will start to look a little familiar. That’s because you’ll be headed back to Yosemite Valley, the same area you were in yesterday. There’s simply so much to see in that section of the park.
While Bridalveil Fall, the Valley Loop Trail, and El Capitan Meadow are all wonderful, day 2 in Yosemite Valley is filled with new sights to see. First up, Washburn Point.
From Washburn Point, you’ll get an unobstructed view of one of Yosmite’s most famous sites: Half Dome! You’ll definitely want to spend a few moments simply taking in the jaw-dropping views.
Pop by Glacier Point
Next up is Glacier Point. Like Washburn Point, Glacier Point offers absolutely stunning views of Half Dome. And since the two viewpoints are right around the corner from each other, why not stop at both?
While Glacier Point is the main highlight, there are a couple of related spots nearby. First, there’s the Glacier Point Trailside Museum. This small spot gives you little tidbits of information about the geology of Glacier Point.
Then, there’s the Glacier Point Amphitheatre. This picturesque venue hosts evening nature talks, so you can learn even more about the gorgeous environment around you.
It is important to note that Glacier Point is one of the most popular viewpoints in Yosemite National Park. If you decide to drive to this viewpoint, you may need to wait a while to find parking, especially in the summer and on weekends.
Finish Off at Taft Point
For the final stop of the 2 days in Yosemite National Park, there is Taft Point. Hopefully you still have a bit of energy left, because Taft Point isn’t a drive-up viewpoint, like Washburn Point and Glacier Point. You have to hike a few kilometres to get there. But it’s more than worth it. As a matter of fact, many people believe that Taft Point offers the best views in all of Yosemite National Park!
This 3.5-kilometre hike is filled with blooming wildflowers, thriving trees, and awesome wildlife. But the real gem is the view at the end. You’ll be able to see the vast majority of Yosemite Valley, including El Capitan and Yosemite Falls. And if you time it right, you’ll get to see these amazing sights under the magical glow of sunset.
Sounds like a pretty fantastic way to wrap up your 2 days in Yosemite National Park, don’t you think?
And there you have it! 2 Days in Yosemite National Park! We hope this provides you with a bit of guidance for your trip. If you have any questions, just let us know in the comments below.