Weekend Length: Medium (3 days)
Day 2 – Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls hike
Day 3 – Drive back to San Jose/San Francisco at 9am
We opted to stay in a townhouse in the town of Mammoth Lakes, which is about 3 hours southeast of Yosemite Valley known for Mammoth Mountain and the ski areas. Because Mammoth Lakes is a ski town, there are numerous lodging options all around town that range in prices. For lodging closer to Yosemite Valley, there is also an abundance of tent (car or backpack) and RV campgrounds, wooden cabins, heated tent cabins, and hotels, although they fill-up quickly. Half Dome Village and Yosemite Valley Lodge are just some of the lodging options near Vernal Falls.
Driving is the primary means of transportation within Yosemite Valley and the surrounding mountains and forests, although parking near points-of-interest can be difficult especially during the weekends. A more eco-friendly and convenient option is to park near a shuttle stop (such as the Half Dome Village) and take the complimentary shuttles to get around the valley. Biking is also another means of transportation in the valley, although not all routes and trails allow bikes.
Lodging and gas could be the biggest expenses, depending on the location and type of lodging and how much driving will be done. Campgrounds run around $20 a night while larger cabins or townhouses could be a couple hundred dollars a night. As for food, different hotels, lodges, and villages have dining rooms that offer meals all day, though the cheapest option is to purchase/bring groceries and cook.
- Yosemite National Park offers many different activities throughout the year.
- Be alert and aware of symptoms of, precautionary measures for, and treatments for altitude sickness.
- Plan on staying in the valley to avoid spending too much time driving to the points-of-interest.
- Traffic tends to be busy on the weekends, so it’s a great idea to arrive early in the day to find a parking spot and simply take the complimentary shuttles around.
- Yosemite National Park has many waterfalls, some visible from the road while others require little to extensive hiking.
- Beware of bears and other wildlife; take necessary precautions especially when hiking and make sure to not harm any wildlife.
- Large areas of the national park and surrounding forests do not have cell service and gas stations are scarce in those areas. Plan accordingly.
- Drive carefully. Long, winding, steep cliff-side roads are common.
- There are no street lights on the mountain roads, so avoid driving late at night if possible.
- Always stay updated on alerts, such as weather and wildfire advisories.
- Like many National and State Parks, permits may be required for certain activities and trails.