How to Spend 24 Hours in Yosemite National Park

Jun 24, 2024Things to Do, Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a wonderland of natural beauty, offering endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation. However, not everyone has the ability to spend days exploring, so planning your itinerary is key to making the most of your visit. Here’s how to spend a perfect 24 hours in Yosemite National Park.

Early Morning: Sunrise and Easy Hikes

Start Early

Starting your day early not only lets you dodge the crowds but also gives you a front-row seat to the park’s magical sunrise moments. For those driving into the park between 5 am and 4 pm, check out our blog with Tips for Getting a 2024 Yosemite National Park Reservation. Plus, did you know that you can avoid the peak-hours reservation requirement for Yosemite if you enter before 5 am or after 4 pm? 

Sunrise at Tunnel View

Kick off your day with a breathtaking sunrise at Tunnel View. This iconic viewpoint offers a panoramic vista of El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall bathed in the morning light. As the first rays of sunlight illuminate the granite cliffs and cascading waterfalls, you’ll witness Yosemite awakening in all its glory. Bring a camera to capture the stunning scenery and a warm drink to savor the peaceful morning. It’s a serene way to start your day, setting the perfect tone for your adventures ahead.

Easy Morning Hike: Mirror Lake

After soaking in the sunrise, head over to Mirror Lake for a gentle morning hike. The 2-mile round-trip trail is relatively flat, making it perfect for families, kids, and even your furry friends. The reflections of the surrounding cliffs on the lake’s surface are simply stunning in the early hours.

Mid-Morning: Exploring Yosemite Valley

Breakfast in Yosemite Village

Refuel with a hearty breakfast at one of Yosemite Village’s cafes. Whether you prefer a sit-down meal or a quick bite, you’ll find options to suit your taste. 

Tip: If you’re staying at one of our lodges, many of our rooms come equipped with kitchenettes so you can easily prep your meals ahead of time. 

Discover Yosemite Falls

Next, make your way to Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in North America. The Lower Yosemite Falls Trail is an easy, 1-mile loop that offers spectacular views of the falls and a chance to feel the mist on your face. This hike is also kid-friendly and accessible for all ages.


Afternoon: Picnic and Adventure

Midday Picnic at El Capitan Meadow

By now, you’re probably ready for lunch. Head to El Capitan Meadow for a picturesque picnic and enjoy your meal with a view of climbers ascending the sheer granite face of El Capitan.

Afternoon Hike: Vernal Fall Footbridge

For those seeking a bit more adventure, hike to the Vernal Fall Footbridge. This 1.6-mile round-trip hike offers a moderate challenge and rewarding views of the powerful Vernal Fall. The trail is well-maintained and suitable for most fitness levels, though it does have some steep sections.

Sunrise at Yosemite overlooking a clif

Evening: Catch the Sunset 

Sunset at Glacier Point

As the day winds down, make your way to Glacier Point for sunset. The panoramic views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the High Sierra are truly spectacular. This is a popular spot, so arrive early to secure a good viewing spot of the sunset.

Night: Stargazing

Stargazing in Yosemite

Yosemite’s night skies are incredibly clear, making it an ideal place for stargazing. Some of the best spots for stargazing in Yosemite include Glacier Point, where you can get an unobstructed view of the Milky Way and countless stars. Tuolumne Meadows offers a serene and expansive setting for your stargazing experience, while Wawona Meadow provides a tranquil environment to take in the night sky. Find a quiet spot away from the lights, lay back, and enjoy the celestial display.

A day in Yosemite is a day well spent, filled with natural beauty, adventure, and relaxation. By starting early and planning your activities you’ll create unforgettable memories in one of the world’s most iconic national parks.