The Best of Yosemite National Park. (For the First Time Visitor)

Half Dome and Yosemite Valley as seen from Glacier Point 

Yosemite National Park is a a hiker's paradise, but the number of great hikes in the park makes planning a trip a daunting task. I literally spent weeks planning and researching my first trip to Yosemite National Park. I wanted to make sure that I didn't miss anything awesome. The end result was an amazing trip. Yosemite is probably my favorite National Park.  I've already done the work, so why should you? I'm posting the list of my favorite hikes in Yosemite so you won't have to. If you think I missed anything major, feel free to add it in the comment section.

1. Hike up the Mist Trail from Happy Isles to the top of Nevada Falls and come back down the John Muir Trail. If you have the time, the permit and the leg strength, you can hike all the way to Half Dome.

2. I would plan a day and do the short hikes around Yosemite Valley. My favorites are Bridalveil Falls, The Mariposa Grove of giant Redwood Trees, Lower Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake and possibly a short raft trip on the Merced River from Curry Village.

3. I would highly recommend a drive up to Glacier Point. This is the best place in the park to view Yosemite Valley. You can pick up the Panorama Trail from Glacier Point and hike 2 miles downhill to Illouette Falls. This hidden waterfall is one of the best in the park. The return trip to the car is a leg burner.

4. Definitely consider driving east and exiting Yosemite through Tioga Pass. The crowds are sparse in this part of the park and the scenery  is definitely worth an little extra drive time. Lembert Dome is one of the best hikes in Yosemite. This part of the park features glacial lakes and green meadows around every turn. Mono Lake is located at the East entrance and features some of Southern California's best natural hot springs.

Attention: Tioga Pass and Glacier Point are usually only accessible in the summer months. 

Nevada Falls as seen from the Panorama Trail
The Mist Trail to Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls and Half Dome

Bridal Veil Falls and Half Dome as seen from Tunnel View Overlook
Bridalveil Falls. Yosemite National Park
El Capitan Yosemite National Park
Upper Yosemite Falls
Lower Yosemite Falls
Vernal Falls as seen from the Mist Trail
Half Dome, Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls as seen Panorama Point 
Mariposa Grove Tree Tunnel 

Shadow of the Giants Nelder Grove
Big Oak Flat Road Waterfall
Tioga Pass 
Illouette Falls

Tenaya Lake

Lembert Dome

Overhanging Rock at Glacier Point
Tuolumne Meadow as seen from Lembert Dome

Mirror Lake


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