Do you know the meaning of the word Yosemite? It means “those who kill” (Yos, “to kill,” the modifier e, “one who,” and the plural suffix -meti). It was the word that the Miwok tribes, living outside Yosemite Valley, used to describe the tribe living in the valley.
Yosemite Valley was home to the Ahwaneechee Native Americans for nearly 4000 years. It features the tallest waterfall, in North America (2,425 feet) and its shape is believed to be formed by a single glacier.
“The mountains are calling and I must go”
There are monoliths that are 3000 ft tall, more than a dozen waterfalls throughout the park-the tallest one being Yosemite falls (2.450ft), and Sequoia trees that are so huge you can walk through them while they’re laying on their side.
It was everything we imagined it to be and much more!
Where Did We Stay?
Most people planning a trip to Yosemite National Park plan well in advance (6-12 months). The park has many different lodging opportunities including primitive campsites, tents, cabins, and hotels if you are a planner.
If you’re like us and don’t plan anything until about a week before you plan to arrive, it may be difficult to find a place within your budget, if you can find a place at all.
I would suggest searching on Airbnb or Booking.com
Tour Of The Place We Stayed
We ended up choosing an Airbnb a little more than 20 miles out from the entrance to Yosemite. It was about a 30-minute drive to the entrance of the park and 45-60-minute drive into the valley.
As much as we would have liked to stay in the park, we were pleased with our place! There wasn’t a day that went by that we didn’t see groups of deer families and turkeys. It also came with several amenities-pool, hot tub, beach, pickleball courts to use if you have the energy after hiking Yosemite.
We had three days to explore the different trails throughout the park and each day was spent differently.
Day 1: Tuolumne Grove Loop and Rainbow Pool
Day 2: Lower Yosemite Falls and Mirror Lake and Mist Trail
Day 3: Sentinal/Cooks Loop and Bridalveil Falls
Your Three Day Itinerary To Yosemite National Park
Day 1: Roaming Through A Forest Of Towering Sequoia Trees And Swimming In The Most Astounding Swimming Hole.
Our first day in Yosemite landed on a Sunday. A day I knew would be best spent outside of the popular Yosemite Valley. The crowds would be at there peak during a weekend and we thought it would be a better experience with fewer crowds.
So we packed our lunch and hit the road around 9:00 AM to head for Tuolumne Grove Trail to see our first Sequoia tree.
“Between every two pines there is a door leading to a new way of life”
They were HUGE!
We spent several hours running along the trail looking for giant pine cones, crawling through the trunks of the trees and sharing our thoughts on the history of these giants and what stories may have been inspired by them.
Afterward, we ate lunch and headed to a swimming hole our Airbnb host recommended to us called Rainbow Pool. It’s a natural swimming hole along the Tuolumne river with a small waterfall flowing into the pool as the backdrop.
This is where we spent the rest of the afternoon splashing around in the water (too cold to swim) and watching others jump off the surrounding cliffs into the freezing cold water.
Day 2: Lower Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake and Mist Trail up to Vernal Falls.
Our second day visiting Yosemite started much earlier than the first. I believe I set the alarm for 4:30 am in order to provide us enough time to pack lunch and drive into the valley before the crowds.
We arrived at the Valley visitor center around 7:00 am in hopes to get a better idea of what today’s hikes would be like and to pick up the kids Jr. Ranger books, only to find out it didn’t open until 9:00 am.
So, instead, we decided to hike the trail to lower Yosemite falls.
There were a ton of wild deer along this trail, and the scenery was stunning even with the dried up waterfalls.
Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue”
The kids climbed along all the different rocks looking for little caves to climb into while Justin and Iooked up in awe.
Afterward, we caught to shuttle bus to hike along mirror lake. Except there wasn’t any lake! It was all dried up. We did get to learn what it was like to stand at the bottom of a lake without water though! lol
To end our first day in the valley we hiked Mist Trail up to Vernal Falls gaining an elevation of at least 1000ft throughout the trail. There were also hundreds of steps along our way making it one of our most challenging hikes.
Mackenzie needed quite a bit of encouragement along the way, but when she made it to the top, she was thrilled to be reward with a colorful rainbow.
Day 3: A 13 Mile Loop By Accident, Bridal Veil Falls And The Meadow.
Our Final day in Yosemite didn’t go as we expected. We had plans of completing Sentinel Meadow and Cooks Meadow Loop, which is a 2 1/2 mile trail to view Yosemite Falls and Half Dome. What we didn’t have plans on was getting lost and hiking 13 miles. Oops!
We didn’t have plans on seeing Bridalveil falls today, but, we found it by accident.
After hiking for hours an hours and loosing hope on finding the meadows we found it and it was worth every step!
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising.”
In the end, However, we ended up seeing Bridal veil falls which had flowing water, making it all worthwhile.
When Did We Visit?
Ideally, we would have liked to visit during the month of may when the waterfalls are flowing, and the crowds have not yet ventured far from home. Only, problem, once again, we’re not planners and were back at home visiting family at the time.
So September was our next choice of time to visit. The waterfalls weren’t flowing great-more of a mist, but the weather was perfect for hiking, and the crowds were manageable.
If you’re looking to ski, I suppose the winter months would be perfect.
I would think that the summer months would be miserably hot making if perfect for hiking at a higher elevation.
I guess the best time to visit depends on what activities you have planned.
Oh, If you have kids don’t forget about the Jr. Ranger program. The books at Yosemite cost $3.00.
Have you visited Yosemite National Park? If so what were your favorite hikes?