Yosemite National Park in 24 Hours
Updated: Jul 18, 2021
Let me preface my 24 hours in Yosemite National Park: I had altitude sickness, a massive headache from a lack of caffeine (because I was nauseous from the altitude sickness) and ultimately ended up in the ER for a chemical burn in my eye from bug spray. WIth all that said, I would go through it all over again for the views inside Yosemite.
There's something about the waterfalls, the stairs, the rainbows, the greens, the blues, the fog, all of it, that makes you feel like you're on another planet, or at the very least, Southeast Asia. I'll say it now, and I'll say it again, visit Yosemite.
How to get to Yosemite National Park:
Chances are, if you're traveling from out of state, you're flying into San Francisco airport (SFO). If that's the case, I recommend traveling south through San Jose and onward east toward Yosemite. We got in around lunch time, so we stopped at a restaurant in San Jose called Luna Mexican Restaurant, and it was a great stop!
We also made a stop at Casa de Fruta in Hollister, California for gas and snacks, and it ended up being a super cute stop with a fruit market, playground, gas station and more. By going this route, we avoided the bridge tolls and the San Fran traffic.
Where to stay in Yosemite National Park:
While I was planning our trip to Yosemite, I noticed that almost all the lodging near the park was super old and super expensive, but I don’t like to settle so I kept researching until I found the most precious micro cabin. It was located in Ahwahnee, which is about a 15 min drive outside Oakhurst (which is one of the main towns on the way into Yosemite) and about a 30 min drive to the National park entrance (though it’s more like an 1.5 hour drive before you actually get to the parts of the park that you’ll want to hike).
You can find all of Sierra Meadow's properties here; they have a few lodging options, but we stayed in the "tiny house | unique Yosemite micro cabin" and loved it! We only stayed one night and were only two people though so if you're staying for longer or have a larger group of people, I would recommend one of their larger options. Everyone staying on the property has access to free bike rentals and a pool. Plus, there's a couple of trails nearby!
The micro cabin didn't have its own restroom, but they provided a shower caddy with a robe, towel, shower shoes and a hair dryer to bring to the communal bathroom. The room itself also had a heater/AC, mini-fridge, pour over coffee, kettle and wine opener. At night, we got Mexican food from Mariscos Colima and ate it back in the cabin for dinner and it was amazing!
Where to hike in Yosemite National Park:
A great resource and starting point for any hiking trip is always All Trails, but if you want a truly incredible experience, you have to hike Vernal Falls through the mist trail. All Trails considers this a moderately difficult trail, and it is a four mile hike with a 1,279 feet elevation gain, so if endurance isn't your thing, you might want to look into a few other trails. I did see a lot of families on this trail so it is doable!
If you're able, this trail gives indescribable views of the waterfall throughout the hike, but note that they call it the mist trail for a reason: you're practically soaked by the time you get to the top because of the mist from the waterfall. So if your devices aren't waterproof, make sure to bring protection!
Once you've made it to the top, if you're not completely winded, I recommend you keep going along the Nevada Falls trail. The Vernal Falls PLUS the Nevada Falls trail is a total of 7.2 miles with a 2,217 feet elevation gain, but I recommend going down the horse trail instead of going back down the same way you came up. It's a completely different view of the mountain and it's a much easier decline than the steep steps to go up.