Yosemite Park in one to two days
Take the self guided "grand tour"
- Start your trip through the west entrance of Yosemite (approx. 1 hour from the Inn) through the town of Mariposa. Take Hwy 49 for 25 minutes, at the stop sign turn right (sort of straight, but right), continue straight through the town of Mariposa on Highway 140 all the way to Yosemite Valley through the Arch Rock entrance. After you go through the entrance booth have your camera ready to take a picture of the Arch Rock. Insider information, along Hwy 140 you will encounter a road detour, where you should not wait longer than 15 minutes. This detour is a permanent one because on May 28, 2006 a major liquid rockslide covered approximately 600 feet of the highway. Because it was a liquid rockslide they were unable to move the rocks so they had to move the road.
- Continue your drive into the Valley, make Bridalveil Falls your first stop (on the right), hike the short 1/4 mile paved trail to the base of the waterfalls, in the spring it can be very wet here, so protect your camera.
- After Bridalveil Falls continue on the road to the right towards Curry Village. Park your car in the Village parking lot (If there is no parking available park in the Yosemite Village Parking lot and hop on the Free Shuttle there) and either walk or catch the free Yosemite Shuttle to Happy Isles (Stop 16)
- At Happy Isles you are in for a grueling but worthwhile 1.6 mile roundtrip hike to the bridge at the bottom of Vernal Falls (keeping hiking to the top of the falls via the Mist Trail for a more challenging but spectacular view from the top of the falls 3 miles roundtrip). Insider information, the trail after the bridge is mostly all stairs so be prepared to work your legs, and if you take the Mist Trail in spring or early summer make sure to bring an umbrella or rain coat, they don't call it the Mist Trail for no reason.
- If Vernal Falls is too hard or you want an additional hike take the Free Shuttle to Mirror Lake (Stop 17) for an easy 2 mile roundtrip stroll on a paved roadway to the lake that resides at the base of Half Dome for a humbling view of the dome giant. Insider information, Mirror Lake is small and sometime non-existent in the fall and winter, but the hike to the base of Half Dome is what makes this hike worth the easy stroll.
- After your hike hop back on the Free Shuttle and take it to the Awahanee Hotel for a view of the grand old hotel and grounds and see how the better half live. There is a small bar that offers a nice selection of alcoholic beverages, appetizers, and sandwiches, with nice outdoor seating, and also, a formal dinning room that serves lunch (informal dress is ok) and dinner (Reservations are required and formal dress is required). Insider information, keep your eyes out for wildlife around the hotel, many deer like to graze in the meadow out back, and we have seen a black bear around this area several times during all times of the year.
- After the hotel take the Free Shuttle to the General Store for great opportunity to stock up on souvenirs. From the General store, either walk or take the Free Shuttle to the visitor center for an educational display of the Valley and how it was formed, and a nice museum with information on the history of the people and places in Yosemite. Make sure to catch the video in the back called "The Spirit of Yosemite" and a ranger program while you're there. Insider information, if you have kids, or are a kid at heart out back next to the movie theater there is an Indian village showing the teepees and warming house that the native Ahwaneechee used while they lived here. It is a fascinating self guided walk that is enjoyable for people of all ages.
- Finish off your loop around the park by taking the Free Shuttle to Yosemite Falls. Walk the short paved 1/4 mile to the base of the tallest falls in the lower 48 states and marvel in it's grandeur. Insider information, as you are walking from the shuttle stop to the falls look up, there is a point along the trail that you can see both the upper and lower falls at the same time, which is a great photo opportunity.
- Grab the shuttle back to your car at Curry Village (or Yosemite Village) on your drive out of the Valley make sure to stop under El Capitan to see the climbers tackle the granite face, parking is on the left side of the road and is usually recognizable by the amount of cars, and people with binoculars. Also, before you leave the Valley look to the left side of the road for a dirt pull out along the Merced River, this is called Valley View, and offers great pictures of the Merced River and El Capitan.
- Finish the loop by exiting following the signs towards the Highway 41 South. Make sure to stop at the Tunnel View parking lot to the right, just after you get on Hwy 41, for a great view back at all that you drove through of waterfalls, Half Dome and the Valley.
If you have two days to tour Yosemite, start your second day here:
- After Tunnel View drive through the tunnel and continue on Hwy 41 for approximately 15 minutes then turn left to take the road to Glacier Point Road (closed during winter 5 miles up the road at Badger Pass Ski area). Drive 16 miles one-way (approx. 30 minutes) to the end of the road and the Glacier Point Parking lot. Park and walk the 1/4 mile paved trail to Glacier Point, which offers a sweeping areal view of Yosemite Valley, 3,000 feet below. Insider information, if you have time the Innkeeper's favorite hike is Sentinel Dome, the trail head is located 2 miles back from the Glacier Point parking lot. The easy 2 mile roundtrip hike on a dirt trail (easy until you climb up the dome) offers 360 degree views from the top with no trees or mountains in the way of your view.
- From Glacier Point drive approximately 1 hour back to the South entrance to visit Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia for a look at the worlds largest and oldest trees or drive. When you reach the entrance drive straight at the stop sign, do not exit the park. Take the 2 mile road up to the parking lot. From the parking lot there are 2 options to see the trees, first is to hike the easy 2 mile roundtrip dirt trail to the Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Tree. Option two is to go to the visitor center and buy a ticket for the shuttle which drives you all the way up to the museum, stopping along the way to see the trees. Insider information, if you have more time or make this part of a half day trip to Yosemite the moderate 6 mile dirt trail loop that goes up to the museum and passes many giant sequoia trees, including the Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Tree, is worth the hike. It is 3 miles of all up, and 3 miles of all down.
- After craning your neck up at the trees hop back in your car and drive back to the entrance. Turn left and go past the entrance booths and exit the park. From there it is a 25 minute drive back to Oakhurst where you can grab a good hearty dinner after your long day in the park (See the menu book in your room binder). From Oakhurst turn right on Highway 49 (the stop light past McDonalds and the movie theater) and drive approximately 8 miles to Silver Spur Trail, turn right on the road and then find the Inn on your left side. You have made it back to your home away from home. Insider information, now maybe the time to enjoy the hot tub to help your muscles relax after that long day of hiking and sight seeing.
Outside of Yosemite National Park:
During your visit to the Sierra Nevadas, we have many ideas to make your stay ideal: visit Sequoia National Park, or indulge yourself with a delicious lunch or dinner in one of the many delightful restaurants in historic Oakhurst. You can follow the Madera Wine Trail to go tasting, enjoy hike, rent a speedboat at Bass Lake, go river rafting, antiquing, sport fishing, bird watching, mountain biking, try your hand in nature photography, or simply stroll and shop in the charming town of Oakurst. Ask us for details on all the above activities.