An Luxurious 2-Day Itinerary in Yosemite for First-Time Visitors

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If you’re planning a trip to Yosemite National Park and need a 2-day itinerary to maximize your adventure, this post will help.

I went on a family vacation, and to say it’s enormous is an understatement. So, you’ll want to make the most of your time while seeing the beautiful landscapes and stunning natural wonderland.

Visiting Yosemite Nnational Park in 2 days is doable. In addition to prioritizing your options, you could probably use valuable tips.

That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you create the perfect 2-day itinerary in Yosemite.

Check accommodations in Yosemite!

About Yosemite National Park

man, woman, and girl posing for family photo before a waterfall in Yosemite

We love being outdoors. And I was super excited when American Express invited our family to spend a few days at Yosemite.

The massive trees, natural waterfalls, and beautiful landscapes do not begin to tell the story of this majestic National Park. But I will say, it should not be missed.

With this itinerary in Yosemite, you will see the top and most recommended spots during a short weekend visit.

Where is Yosemite?

Yosemite National Park is in the Sierra Nevada mountains of eastern California, United States. This National Park is best known for its expansive nature and waterfalls.

The grand meadows, giant sequoias, and vast wilderness are equally eye-catching and will be a jaw-dropping experience during your visit.

What is the Entrance Fee?

There is a $35 cost per vehicle for a parking pass and the pass is valid for seven days.

How to Get to Yosemite

If you are visiting for the first time, decide what you want to do and see, then do some research before finalizing your itinerary in Yosemite by using the National Park Service website.

Can I Bring My Pet

Yes, dogs are allowed in Yosemite, and they must be on a short leash (6ft or less). You must also carry poop bags and pick-up after them to keep the ground clean.

Read the trail signs and property rules for additional restrictions. You also may want to adjust your itinerary in Yosemite to accommodate your furry friend.

Where Can I Stay in Yosemite?

suite in Yosemite lodge

If you are wondering where should i stay for the first time in Yosemite, there are a few options for lodging including campsites, cabins, and hotels.

We were given a nice suite that was perfect for our four-person party.

It made our itinerary in Yosemite a perfect stay and it felt so luxurious. I can’t wait to tell you about it!

If you want to enjoy Yosemite National Park’s awe-inspiring wildness without sleeping on the ground, then book a stay at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. This resort is located about 3 miles from the park’s southern gate.

Check now for availability in Yosemite!

The lodge has chalet-style accommodations, and the guest rooms feature wood furnishings, premium bedding, as well as flat-screen TVs and writing desks.

The onsite wellness center, Ascent Spa, will be the perfect post-hike stop for a massage and relaxation.  

Although this itinerary in Yosemite is just for 2 days, you may want to add an extra day or two just to enjoy the spa amenities.

Yosemite 2-Day Itinerary

vista of a valley near Yosemite

Day 1: Exploring Yosemite Valley

On your first day in Yosemite, we recommend starting your adventure in Yosemite Valley, the park’s most popular destination.

Parking is a little difficult to come by because there is none near the falls. The nearest parking lot for Yosemite Falls is reserved for hotel guests and there is little street parking so you may have to walk a little further.

Wear comfortable shoes and bring water with you. The months of April and May are ideal for seeing Yosemite Falls. Here are some must-see attractions.

Yosemite Falls

waterfall in yosemite

Start your day with a hike to Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world. The trailhead is located near Yosemite Valley Lodge, and the hike is a strenuous but rewarding 3-mile round trip.

You’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the waterfall and surrounding landscape.

It’s hard to miss this beauty and it is easy to approach the falls or find a spot nearby to rest. You will feel like you’re in paradise.

Valley View

Start your itinerary in Yosemite with phenomenal views! After your hike, take a short drive to Valley View, one of the most scenic viewpoints in the park.

From here, you’ll have a panoramic view of the Merced River and Yosemite Valley.

El Capitan

No visit itinerary in Yosemite is complete without a glimpse of the iconic El Capitan. This massive granite cliff is a favorite among rock climbers, but you can also admire it from the ground.

Stop at El Capitan Meadow for an unobstructed view of the monolith.

Yosemite Valley Chapel

a red chapel

For a dose of history and culture, visit the Yosemite Valley Chapel.

Constructed in 1879, this quaint chapel is a National Historic Landmark and still hosts regular worship services.


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Day 2: Exploring the High Country

horses grazing in a field

On your second day in Yosemite, venture into the park’s high country for a different perspective on the park’s natural beauty.

The High Country at Yosemite refers to the upper elevations of the park, typically above 8,000 feet, which is known for its stunning alpine landscapes and abundant wildflowers.

The High Country is a popular destination for backpackers and hikers. You’ll find a lot of trails with access to remote lakes, granite peaks, and panoramic views.

Because the elevation is higher the temperatures will be much cooler.

Make sure you dress in layers and bring warm clothing and have plenty of water and sunscreen on hand. Here are some top sights to see.

a path in yosemite national park
water streaming over rocks

Tioga Road

Take a drive on Tioga Road, the highest highway pass in California.

This scenic drive offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and there are plenty of pullouts to stop and take photos.

Tuolumne Meadows

Located along Tioga Road, Tuolumne Meadows is a vast subalpine meadow that’s home to an abundance of wildlife and wildflowers.

You can take a leisurely stroll or a more challenging hike in the area, and there are several picnic areas to enjoy a meal with a view.

Olmsted Point

Stop at Olmsted Point for a unique perspective on the park’s landscape. From this viewpoint, you can see Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and Tenaya Canyon.

The area is also home to unique rock formations and colorful lichens.

Glacier Point

End your day at Glacier Point, one of the most spectacular viewpoints in the park. From this vantage point, you can see Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, and the high Sierra Nevada.

It’s especially stunning at sunset, so don’t miss this view!

Tips for Visiting Yosemite

family posting in yosemite national park

Here are a few tips before you pack your bags for an epic weekend in Yosemite.

  • You will need a good map as an excellent resource that is waterproof and tear resistant.
  • Don’t be in a hurry. You will want to stop and see the magnificent views that you stumble upon. I only wanted to see the waterfalls, and it took well over 5 hours! 
  • The park is massive and ascending into the mountains is almost an hour by car; fill the tank before you start.
  • Pack snacks, a cooler, and blankets. You will undoubtedly find a spot that invites you to stay a little longer.  
  • Dress in layers. Some parts of the park, especially densely treed areas, are cooler than normal.
  • Wear hiking shoes. They are a good investment and will protect your feet from rough elements and give you a good footing on slippery rocks.
  • If you want to try camping overnight, make reservations at least 3 to 4 months in advance and check for when seasons open and close. 

Final Thoughts on a 2-Day Itinerary in Yosemite

When surrounded by the beautiful landscapes, 2 days in Yosemite National Park seem to fly by.

But the best part is that you will enjoy being outdoors, touring the waterfalls, and spending time connecting with nature.

If you love being outdoors while traveling in the USA, check out or post on fall hikes near Chicago or Illinois National Park sites!

Safe travels.

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