With two days in Yosemite, branch out beyond Yosemite Valley to explore magnificent Tuolumne Meadows. You’ll see two completely different sides of Yosemite National Park as you go from the valley’s sheer rock faces and streaming waterfalls to Tuolumne’s open, subalpine terrain. Here’s how to make the most of your 2-day trip.
First light illuminates Yosemite Valley landmarks such as Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls, so start the day early for the best possible views from Glacier Point. From there, continue into Yosemite Valley by vehicle or on foot: The popular 4-mile trail winds from Glacier Point to the valley floor.
Pick another day hike in Yosemite Valley for an afternoon on the trail. Laid-back options include family-friendly walks to Bridalveil Fall, Cook’s Meadow, and Lower Yosemite Fall; find steeper terrain on the way to Yosemite Fall or on the Mist Trail. Some tours follow guided hikes with lunch at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, formerly the Ahwahnee Hotel, which offers great views of Yosemite Valley.
This is why you brought a camera—find a spot to settle in well before sunset and wait for evening light to catch the rock walls here. With little light pollution, Yosemite National Park has gorgeous stargazing, too.
Open during the snow-free months between spring and autumn, Tuolumne Meadows has subalpine flowers, clear-running streams, and views across the Sierra Nevada mountains. Start your second day here at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, where you’ll find info on the area’s trails, wildlife, and history.
Pick a trail for an afternoon hike, choosing from options that go from mellow to strenuous. An easy, kid-friendly option is the hike to Soda Springs and Parson Lodge, while very fit hikers can reach Mono Pass or Cathedral Lakes.
Bundle up for a cool evening at Tuolumne Meadows, which has great star views. Check for ranger-led stargazing programs at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, or simply find an open spot where you can see the natural show overhead.