Two Days in Yosemite: The Perfect Itinerary
When you think of California, one of the first places that come to mind is Yosemite National Park.
With its soaring mountains and majestic waterfalls, Yosemite is a must-see for any nature lover, and personally, it is also one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.
However, If you only have two days to explore this incredible National Park, deciding what exactly to do there can be quite difficult since there are just so many wonderful things to do there.
In this guide, you will find the best way to spend two days in Yosemite National Park + all the extra information you need to know before your trip.
Disclosure: Some links on this page are affiliate links. That means that at no extra cost to you, I earn a small commission if you book through these links, and that helps me keep this blog running. Enjoy!
Best time to visit Yosemite
The best time to visit Yosemite National Park really depends on what you want to do there.
If your main goal is to hike or climb, the best time to come is in late spring or early summer when the weather is warm but not too hot and most of the snow has melted from the trails.
However, if you’re more interested in seeing Yosemite’s waterfalls at their fullest, late spring is actually the ideal time since that’s when the snowmelt from the mountains is at its peak.
Keep in mind, though, that no matter what time of year you visit, Yosemite can be quite crowded, so try to come during the week if possible in order to get cheaper hotel deals and have the time to yourself.
Where is Yosemite National Park?
Yosemite National Park is located in Central California, about a 3-hour drive from San Francisco.
It is bordered by the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east and the San Joaquin Valley to the west. The closest major city to Yosemite is Fresno, which is about an hour away from the park.
How many days for Yosemite National Park
As we mentioned before, if you only have two days in Yosemite, you’ll have to make some tough decisions about what to do and what to see.
That being said, two days is actually the perfect amount of time to get a taste of everything that Yosemite has to offer.
You’ll be able to hike some of the park’s most popular trails, see the main sights, and even take a day trip to one of the nearby towns.
There are countless incredible things to do at the park, and it’s great to have more time to just enjoy the views or relax at the hotel for a little bit. Personally, I stayed two days and had a great time. However, if you can stay longer, definitely do it!
Yosemite National Park Entrance Fees
If you’re planning on visiting Yosemite National Park, you will need to pay an entrance fee.
The cost is $30 per vehicle or $15 per person if you enter the park on foot, bike, or motorcycle.
Annual passes are available for $80, which grant you unlimited access to all national parks and monuments managed by the National Park Service for one year.
How to visit Yosemite National Park from San Francisco
There are a few different ways to get from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park.
The most popular and convenient option is to drive, which takes about 3 hours.
If you don’t have a car, you can also take the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) bus, which leaves from various locations in San Francisco and drops you off right at the park entrance.
Another option is to book a day trip tour from San Francisco. These are a few great options:
What to pack for Yosemite
No matter what time of year you visit Yosemite, you should always come prepared with layers since the weather can change quite drastically throughout the day.
In the summer, daytime temperatures can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but at night, they can dip down into the 40s.
Even in the winter, when the average highs are only in the 40s, it’s not uncommon for there to be a sudden heatwave.
Whenever you hike anywhere in Yosemite (or really anywhere in nature), make sure to dress in layers and get a good pair of hiking shoes. It is also important to pack plenty of water and snacks and wear sunscreen and a hat regardless of the season.
Hiking poles and camping equipment will also be necessary if you plan to take on more strenuous hikes and camp.
And finally, don’t forget your camera! There will be plenty of incredible photo opportunities.
Here are some more ideas of things to bring to Yosemite:
- Bug spray
- First aid kit
- A good set of hiking poles
- Camping tent
- Sleeping bag
- Rain jacket
- Hydration backpack
Where to stay in Yosemite Valley
There are a few different options for lodging in Yosemite Valley, the most popular being the Ahwahnee Hotel, Curry Village, and Yosemite Lodge.
The Ahwahnee is definitely the most luxurious option, with its grand lobby and beautiful views, but it is also the most expensive.
However, it’s also the most expensive, with rates starting at $600 per night.
Yosemite Lodge is a more mid-range option, with rates starting at $250 per night, and Curry Village is the most affordable and only for the adventurous since most of the rooms are tent cabins – which honestly sounds very fun!
Personally, I stayed at Yosemite Lodge. Although expensive for what it offers, the room was very lovely and comfortable.
You can check prices and availabilities for the hotels at Yosemite Valley here:
Of course, camping is also an option in Yosemite, and there are 13 different campgrounds to choose from.
The most popular one is the Upper Pines Campground, which is open all year round, but it does fill up quickly, so you’ll have to make reservations well in advance.
2 Days in Yosemite itinerary
If you’re looking for the perfect way to spend a couple of days in Yosemite National Park, look no further. T
his two-day itinerary will take you on a journey through some of the park’s most popular attractions.
You’ll get to experience everything from towering waterfalls to lush meadows, and there’s even a spot for a little bit of hiking thrown in for good measure.
So, without further ado, here is an itinerary with the best things to do in Yosemite in two days.
Day 1 – Upper Yosemite Falls or Half Dome
If you want to make the most of your time in the park, it’s best to arrive early in the morning so you can begin your first day with a hike.
Start your weekend in Yosemite with an epic hike. There are dozens of different trails to choose from, but some of the most popular ones include Half Dome, Vernal Fall, and Nevada Fall.
Half Dome is definitely the most strenuous of the three, but it’s also the most rewarding since the top views are incredible.
The round-trip hike takes about 10-12 hours, so if you don’t think you’ll have enough time or energy to do it in one day, you can always split it up and do Half Dome on your first day and Vernal or Nevada Fall on your second.
If you are looking for an easier hike, I 100% recommend the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. This trail is only 3 miles round trip and provides stunning views of Yosemite Valley the entire time.
After your hike, head back to your accommodation to relax for a bit before dinner.
There are plenty of great places to eat in Yosemite Valley, but if you’re looking for something special, The Mountain Room at the Ahwahnee Hotel is a great option.
Make sure to get there early, though, since they don’t take reservations and it can get quite crowded.
Day 2 – Mirror lake, Tunnel View, and sunset at Glacier Point
On your second day in Yosemite, wake up early and do the easy nature walk to Mirror Lake.
This trail is only 2 miles round trip, so you can easily do it before breakfast.
After that, head to Degnan’s Deli for breakfast. The food there is quite good and affordable. Oh, and make yourself a favor and try their gingerbread cookies. So good!
Then, you can walk and explore the valley for a while. Make sure to drive through “Tunnel View” as well for incredible views.
If you plan to stay in the park until the end of the day, you have to watch the sunset from Glacier Point. It’s one of the most popular things to do in Yosemite, and for a good reason: the views are unreal.
It is the perfect way to end a weekend trip to Yosemite.
Other incredible things to do in Yosemite
Of course, there are plenty of other great things to do in Yosemite National Park.
Here are a few more ideas of things to add to your itinerary:
Hike to Clouds Rest
Clouds Rest is one of the most popular day hikes in Yosemite, and for a good reason. The views from the summit are simply incredible.
The hike is about 14 miles round trip, so it’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re up for a challenge.
Visit Mariposa Grove
Mariposa Grove is home to some of the oldest and largest sequoia trees in Yosemite National Park.
It’s a great place to go for a leisurely walk and take in the beauty of these massive trees.
Take a scenic drive
One of the best ways to see Yosemite National Park is by car. There are plenty of different scenic drives to choose from, but some of the most popular ones include Tioga Road, Glacier Point Road, and Mariposa Grove Road.
Explore Yosemite Village
Yosemite Village is the perfect place to go if you want to learn more about the history and culture of Yosemite National Park.
There are many different museums and exhibits to check out, and it’s also a great place to do some shopping.
So there you have it! A two-day itinerary for Yosemite National Park that will help you make the most of your time in this incredible place.
Watch the sunrise at Sentinel Dome
One of the best things to do in Yosemite National Park is watching the sunrise at Sentinel Dome.
The views from the top are absolutely incredible, and it’s a great way to start your day.
Tips for visiting Yosemite National Park
Here are some tips for making the most of your visit to Yosemite:
This will help you avoid the crowds and make the most of your time in the park.
Also, arriving early is great because it allows you to hike a longer trail on your very first day.
Make reservations in advance
If you’re planning on staying in a hotel or camping, make sure to book your accommodation well in advance since both fill up quickly.
The temperature can vary quite a bit depending on the time of day and what part of the park you’re in, so it’s always best to bring along a few layers that you can take on and off as needed.
Be prepared for crowds
Yosemite is one of the most popular national parks, so it can get quite crowded, especially during peak season. Just be prepared for it and try to go with the flow.
Take good hiking shoes
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
There are a lot of great hikes in Yosemite, so make sure you have a good pair of shoes that will support your feet and ankles.
Here is a great selection of hiking shoes and boots.
Even though there’s a lot to see and do, don’t forget to take some time just to relax and take in all the incredible views. That’s what vacations are for, after all.
Eat at the bar of The Ahwahnee
To save some money, you can dine at the bar of The Ahwahnee Hotel instead of in the dining hall.
The prices are more affordable than in the restaurant, and the food is just as good! Their pretzels are heavenly 🙂
Tips for hiking Half Dome
Half Dome is not an easy hike, but it sure is one of the most rewarding!
If you are looking to hike Half Dome, these are some great tips for hiking Half Dome.
Frequently asked questions
Efficiently planning a trip to Yosemite National Park is no easy task since there is just so much information to learn before visiting the park.
To help with that, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about traveling to Yosemite:
Which entrance to Yosemite is best?
There is no “best” entrance, as each one has its own unique benefits. The most popular entrance is the South Entrance, which is closest to many of the park’s most popular attractions.
However, if you’re coming from San Francisco, the North Entrance may be a better option.
Can I drink the water in Yosemite?
Yes, the water in Yosemite is safe to drink. In fact, it’s some of the best water you’ll ever taste!
Do I need a permit to hike Half Dome?
Yes, you will need a permit to hike Half Dome. The permits are issued through a lottery system and can be applied for up to six months in advance.
Where to fly to visit Yosemite National Park?
The closest airport to Yosemite National Park is Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT), which is about an hour’s drive from the park. Alternatively, you can fly to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) or Oakland International Airport (OAK), both of which are about a 3.5-hour drive from the park.
How to get around Yosemite?
The best way to get around Yosemite is by car. A free shuttle runs throughout the park, but it can be quite slow and doesn’t go to all of the destinations. If you’re planning on doing any hikes, you’ll likely need a car to get to the trailheads.
Is Yosemite National Park pet-friendly?
Yes, Yosemite National Park is very pet-friendly! There are numerous trails and roads where your furry friend can join you for a hike or walk. Just make sure to keep them on a leash at all times and clean up after them.
Best Yosemite tours from San Francisco
Taking a tour from San Francisco to Yosemite is a great way to see some of California’s most beautiful scenery without having to drive. You’ll get to experience the majestic mountains, rushing waterfalls, and giant sequoias of Yosemite without having to worry about traffic or directions.
Tours typically include stops at popular attractions like Glacier Point, Tunnel View, and Mariposa Grove.
These are some of the best Yosemite tours from San Francisco:
Private Guided Hiking Tour in Yosemite
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.
4 Day Half Dome Backpacking
Our 4-day Half Dome guided backpacking tours are specially designed to make your journey to the summit as spectacular as possible!
This guided tour kicks off in Yosemite Valley. From there, we’ll hit the trail, and guests will hike and camp alongside fabled waters like Sunrise Lakes or the Merced River.
Our expert guides make your experience 5-star with delicious camp-cooked cuisine and comfort provisions around camp while on the trail pointing out the lesser-known factual gems that surround you.
The magic climaxes either on the final evening or the final morning when you’ll climb the cables up Half Dome’s summit for a truly spectacular sunrise or sunset.
Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoias Day Trip from San Francisco
Discover the rugged beauty of the Sierra Nevada on this full-day trip to Yosemite National Park from San Francisco.
Travel aboard a comfortable van through historical Gold Rush towns to reach the park, where you’ll be amazed by supersized natural wonders like Yosemite Falls and the granite cliffs of Half Dome and El Capitan. Take a hike among ancient sequoia trees, and enjoy several hours to explore the park’s wonders on your own.
2-Day Yosemite National Park Tour from San Francisco
Immerse yourself in the majestic beauty of Yosemite National Park on this 2-day overnight adventure from San Francisco.
Explore highlights of both Yosemite Valley and the Sierra Nevada high country, where you can hike among Giant Sequoias, photograph the spectacular views from Glacier Point, and swim or bike around the base of Yosemite Falls.
Enjoy a mix of guided activities and free time to explore the famous park on your own and stay overnight either in the heart of Yosemite Valley or at a nearby lodge.
Wrap-up: Two day Guide to Yosemite
That’s a wrap! Now you have in your hands a great two-day Yosemite itinerary + many important tips for your trip.
Yosemite is one of the most beloved parks in the United States and, personally, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. I hope you have an incredible time there!
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