3 Days in Yosemite, California

February 16, 2016

Mileage: ~800
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: CA
Budget for 6 people: $2100 ($1300 chalet rental, $250 gas, $400 food, $150 other)

  • Day 0: drive from Irvine, CA to Yosemite, CA (350 mi, 7 h)
  • Day 1: explore Yosemite Valley, Lower Yosemite Fall, Mirror Lake
  • Day 2: do all day Panorama Trail hike
  • Day 3: visit Mariposa grove with giant sequoia trees; drive home (350 mi, 7 h)

This post will mostly be about pictures rather than words. Yosemite is a place where you want to come back again and again, take photos during different seasons and periods of the day. This national park is unique and offers breathtaking views, variety of hikes, iconic vistas, cliffs, and waterfalls.

This was our first exploratory visit for 3 days. We were 6 people and we stayed in the park - in one of Redwoods chalet. We visited at the beginning of May to avoid crowds and California heat.

Day 0:

After work drive from Irvine, CA to Yosemite, CA.

Day 1:

Our first stop was at the most photographed vista point - Tunnel View. This is a scenic overlook of El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall.

Our next stop was at Yosemite Lodge to get bus tickets to the Glacier Point for the next day. There we also got more information about the park and adjusted our plan for the first day. We decided to take easy hikes and explore those areas which we won't see during our day 2.

Lower Yosemite Fall: is an easy 1 mile loop hike

Mirror Lake: 2 miles easy round trip to lake and back

Yosemite Valley:

Day 2:

I believe the best way to explore Yosemite in a day is to hike Panorama Trail. It starts from Glacier Point and goes all the way to the Happy Isles Shuttle Stop from where a free shuttle bus takes you back to Yosemite Valley. This hike is 8.5 miles one way, I would say that it is of moderate difficulty. There are several areas where you need to climb up, but this is mostly a downhill trail. You'll get to see amazing views from the Glacier Point, Illilouette Falls, Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls (Mist trail).

Note: It is recommended to get a bus to Glacier Point. You'll need to get a bus ticket in advance in Yosemite Lodge. 

Glacier Point:

Merced River, Panorama Trail:

Nevada Fall: Nevada and Vernal Fall can also be seen from the Mist trail. But advantage of Panorama trail is that you'll be descending. Mist trail is very difficult.

Vernal Fall:

Day 3:

In the morning of our last day we hiked in the Mariposa grove among the giant sequoias. Unfortunately, this area is currently closed for a restoration (reopens June 15, 2018).