YOSEMITE IS OPEN. Click here for more TRAVEL ALERTS and information.
Visitor Guide
Get Our Newsletter
Yosemite Falls Spring from Swinging Bridge
Yosemite in a Day
Itineraries Yosemite In A Day - Spring

Yosemite in a Day: Spring Edition

Spring is an ideal time to be in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. The waterfalls are flowing, dogwood trees are in bloom, and the rivers are rushing. This itinerary has the information needed to maximize your time in the park. Be sure to get an early start on your adventures!

Reservation Requirements

In 2024, Yosemite National Park will implement a reservation system to enhance the visitor experience. The system is for visitors driving into or through Yosemite National Park on select dates, April 13 through October 27, 2024, between 5 am and 4 pm. The goal of the reservation requirement is to manage the flow of visitors during the busiest times of the year. Resources are available to help secure your reservation or to discover alternatives for exploring the park. For spring, reservations are required on Saturdays and Sundays only, and for the holidays, May 27 and June 19. 

 Yosemite Peak Hours Plus Graphic 

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

A walk through the giants...

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is at the South Gate Entrance of Yosemite National Park

The Mariposa Grove has over 500 mature giant sequoia trees and a variety of trails, from easy to strenuous and accessible. Some of the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove are approximately 2,000 years old. This impressive natural wonder was pivotal to the creation of Yosemite National Park and has been revered by the First Native People, followed by adventurers such as Galen Clark, John Muir, and Teddy Roosevelt. 

How to Access The Grove 

Park at Welcome Plaza inside South Gate, and take the free shuttle to Mariposa Grove Arrival Area. Note: The shuttle bus from the Welcome Plaza parking to the Mariposa Grove Arrival Area typically opens in early spring after the snow melts (weather dependent). Visitors can snowshoe, cross-country ski, or hike into the Grove via the two-mile Washburn Trail when the road is closed.

Prepare for your Adventure

Wear a hat and good hiking shoes, and carry plenty of water. Drinking fountains and water refilling stations are at the Welcome Plaza and the Arrival Area. Be aware of melting snow and ice along the trails in early spring.

Recommended Hikes 

  • Fallen Monarch: 0.3-mile loop - EASY
  • Grizzly Giant: Largest accessible tree, 2 miles round trip - MODERATE
  • Upper Grove, Galen Clark's Cabin, and Wawona Point: 7 miles round trip – STRENUOUS (check trail status)


For those with a handicap placard, you can access parking at the Arrival Area and near the Grizzly Giant Tree. Restrooms are also available in these parking areas. 

The beauty of Mariposa Grove is only the beginning of your Yosemite explorations. Buckle up. The next stop is not far away!  

Explore the Historical Heart of Yosemite: A Guide to Wawona

Historic Wawona Hotel

The historic Wawona Hotel at dusk

Explore the rich history and activities at one of the park's historic hubs:

  • Discover the charm of the Wawona Hotel, a distinguished National Historic Landmark and one of California's original mountain resort hotels.
  • Immerse yourself in the past at the Yosemite History Center, an impressive collection of historic buildings. While here, visitors can explore the exteriors of the buildings and learn about the park's history through engaging interpretive signage.
  • Enjoy a stroll along the Meadow Loop Trail, a dog-friendly trail spanning 3.5 miles of flat terrain.
  • Experience the natural beauty of Chilnualna Falls with a moderately easy hike to the first cascade (2-mile round trip). For a more challenging adventure, trek to the upper cascades (8 miles round trip, 2,300 ft elevation gain), mindful of possible snow on the trail in early spring.
  • Tee off at Wawona Golf Course, offering traditional ball and disc golf options. Reservations are required.
  • Indulge in a delightful dining experience at Wawona Hotel, often accompanied by live musical performances by Tom Bopp, a talented musician and Yosemite historian.

For your next adventure:

  • Embark on a scenic drive along Glacier Point Road, stretching 16 miles to the breathtaking Glacier Point. Please note that this seasonal road closes during winter months and inclement weather. The Park Service aims to reopen Glacier Point Road by Memorial Day weekend.

Glacier Point

Glacier Point Panoramic

Stunning views of Half Dome from Glacier Point

Explore the beauty of Yosemite with these scenic hikes and viewpoints along the Glacier Point Road:

  • McGurk Meadow Hike: Enjoy a 2-mile stroll amidst spectacular wildflowers, especially in late summer. Keep an eye out for head-high blooms near the creek crossing.
  • Dewey Point Hike: Moderate difficulty, an 8-mile round trip offering stunning panoramic views.
  • Sentinel Dome Hike: Moderate difficulty, covering 2.2 miles round trip, providing unparalleled 360-degree vistas of the valley and surrounding high country.
  • Washburn Point and Glacier Point: Marvel at the majestic Nevada and Vernal Falls from these vantage points, offering a birds’-eye view of Yosemite Valley from 3,200 feet above its floor.

For your next adventure:

  • Head back along Glacier Point Road from Glacier Point, then turn right onto Wawona Road at Chinquapin. Drive 7.7 miles towards Yosemite Valley, passing through the picturesque Wawona Tunnel before reaching your next destination, Tunnel View.

Tunnel View, Bridalveil Fall, and More!

Explore these iconic Yosemite landmarks with ease and breathtaking views:

  • Tunel View: After exiting the tunnel, park safely on either side and behold the awe-inspiring vista of Bridalveil Fall, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and El Capitan. Don't miss capturing this quintessential photo moment!
  • El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall: Approximately two miles from Tunnel View, upon reaching the valley floor, park to admire the inspiring sights of El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall. Keep an eye out for other Yosemite waterfalls like Ribbon Fall, the park's largest single-drop waterfall, located to the left of El Capitan.
  • Swinging Bridge Picnic Area: This iconic family picnic spot awaits three miles further into the valley. Enjoy stunning views of Yosemite Falls from Swinging Bridge, where high water levels in early spring create captivating vernal pools, perfect for memorable photos.
  • Yosemite Chapel: Venture a little over half a mile along Southside Drive to discover the historic Yosemite Chapel, dating back to 1879. Enjoy a spectacular view of Yosemite Falls outside the chapel, the oldest building still in use in Yosemite Valley.
  • Sentinel Bridge: Follow the road east from Yosemite Chapel to Sentinel Bridge. At the bridge's center, capture breathtaking photos of Half Dome over the Merced River, sometimes with stunning reflections. Don't forget to explore the view from both sides of the bridge for the full experience.

Yosemite Valley Highlights

Yosemite Falls Spring

Yosemite Falls are the most beautiful in Spring

Discover the beauty of Yosemite Valley with ease by utilizing the Yosemite Valley Shuttle, your free ride to explore the heart of the park. With convenient stops at key destinations, you can park once and enjoy free transportation throughout the valley. Remember that shuttle service varies by season, so staying informed is essential. 

Prioritize planning with our "Know Before You Go" approach by checking the current routes and stops in service. Refer to the provided map for an overview

Yosemite Valley Map

View or Download the Yosemite Valley map, complete with shuttle route and stops.  

Learn More

Opting for the convenient shuttle service allows you to effortlessly hop between major attractions while setting out on foot, unveils hidden gems, and allows for a deeper connection with the park's stunning landscapes. Whichever mode of transportation you choose, prepare for an unforgettable journey through one of nature's most magnificent playgrounds.

Shuttle Stop 1: Day Parking – Leave your car parked for the day and enjoy the hassle-free exploration of Yosemite Valley with the free shuttle service, covering all major attractions.

Shuttle Stop 6: Yosemite Falls – Just a half-mile walk to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls, where you can experience its majestic beauty up close.

Shuttle Stop 5/9: Valley Visitors Center – Explore the Visitors Center & Bookstore, watch "The Spirit of Yosemite" in the theater, and discover treasures at the Ansel Adams Gallery and Yosemite Museum. Don't miss the Indian Village of the Ahwahnee and Yosemite Cemetery nearby.

Shuttle Stop 3: The Ahwahnee Hotel – Stop here for a delightful lunch or dinner experience (reservations and dress code required for dinner). For reservations, call (209) 372-1489.

Shuttle Stop 8: Yosemite Valley Lodge – Depart for Valley/Glacier Point tours from here. For info and reservations, call (209) 372-4386.

Shuttle Stop 16: Happy Isles – Explore the Fen and Happy Isles Nature Center. Embark on a hike to Vernal Falls Footbridge (0.8 miles uphill) or continue to Nevada Falls (steep stone steps, expect to get wet in spring/early summer).

Shuttle Stop 17: Mirror Lake – Take a leisurely one-mile walk to Mirror Lake for a close-up view of Half Dome's face, offering a rewarding experience for minimal effort.

These are just a few of the adventures awaiting you in Yosemite Valley. As you depart via Northside Drive, another adventure begins.

Valley View and More

Valley View

A perfect place to watch as the late afternoon sunshine lights up the surrounding granite walls.

After a fulfilling day exploring Yosemite Valley's wonders, there are still a few gems to discover before you conclude your journey:

  • El Capitan Meadow: Marvel at the awe-inspiring views of the towering El Capitan to the north and the majestic Cathedral Rocks formations to the south, offering a glimpse of Yosemite's iconic granite monolith.
  • Bridalveil Fall Turnout: Stop at this small turnout on the left side of Northside Drive to admire breathtaking views of Bridalveil Fall, framed by the Merced River and perhaps adorned with blooming Dogwood trees.
  • Valley View (Gates of the Valley): Similar to Tunnel View, this spot provides a panoramic vista of Yosemite Valley with the Merced River flowing in the foreground and towering granite walls above. Look for the pullout on the left just past the Bridalveil Fall turnout, before Pohono Bridge.
  • Fern Spring and Bridalveil Meadow: Two brief stops along the way back to Wawona Road, where you can witness the charming "smallest waterfall in Yosemite" at Fern Spring and explore the historic site of President Teddy Roosevelt's 1903 visit with John Muir at Bridalveil Meadow.

Before bidding farewell to Yosemite, consider these parting gifts:

  • If time permits and the road is open, venture into the Yosemite high country via Tioga Road for a closer look at the breathtaking landscapes of the eastern Sierra Nevada.
  • Alternatively, don't overlook the stunning beauty of Hetch Hetchy, an often underestimated yet equally remarkable area of Yosemite National Park.

These final adventures promise unforgettable experiences and lasting memories as you conclude your Yosemite Valley journey.

More Itineraries
Book Your Stay Now


Like what you see? Save any (or all) of these pins to your travel planning board(s) to give you an easy way to find your way back here!  Also check out our other itineraries and blog posts for more ideas and pins!

Our annual Visit Yosemite | Madera County Visitors Guide can answer all your questions about visiting California's Gateway to Yosemite. From the park itself to the museums, wineries, art galleries and more throughout Madera County, our guide can help you plan the perfect vacation. Please note that we mail to the USA only, but anyone can download the guide.
Visit Yosemite - Madera County
Oakhurst Visitor Center, 40343 Highway 41, Oakhurst, CA 93644
(559) 683-4636
Email us!

7 days a week: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Developed by Drozian Webworks | ©2024 Southern Yosemite Visitors Bureau. All Rights Reserved.