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One day driving through Yosemite - what to see

London, United...
8 posts
1 review
One day driving through Yosemite - what to see

Hi Guys

We rearranged out trip as advice from the forum was not to do Yosemite over the holiday so.... we are now coming from SF the night before and staying in Jamestown overnight ready for a very early start on the Tuesday (29th May) morning. We are not seasoned walkers/hikers but really appreciate the beauty of nature. Can someone tell me the best way to plan the day in the Valley. I know we'll be entering from the Big Oak Flat gate but not sure where we should stop off on the way. Would like to see the waterfalls etc. Would it be best to do a tour? On the way out we will be staying for a night in Mariposa before heading over to Monterey. Would love to see the big trees (think there are some in the Wawano area) but would this be too much driving to come out of the valley and back to Mariposa for around, say 7/8pm?

3 replies to this topic
Elk Grove...
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong
Level Contributor
20,056 posts
4 reviews
1. Re: One day driving through Yosemite - what to see

The big trees around Wawona is Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Unfortunately it has been under a multi-year renovation and is not re-opened until June 15 this year. Your trip is a tad too early for its re-opening.

Your next choice is Tuolumne Grove. But with this location, you need to do a short and easy hike (about 1 mile in, same way back) to see the trees. They cannot be seen from the parking lot. If you decide to go, you turn to Tioga Road (CA-120) at Crane Flat (the gas station). The trailhead parking lot is about 1/2 mile from this junction.

When you are ready to go to Yosemite Valley, because the road is a one-way loop, it is best for you to plan your sight sequence to avoid back-tracking. First go to Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall (on CA-41). Then back and enter Yosemite Valley. The second waterfall that you can see without hiking is Yosemite Falls.

You can join a tour if you want to. But personally I won't. Because you will be driving to those places that are covered by the tour trams anyway. Just minus the narration. The traffic inside Yosemite Valley is very busy in the summer and parking spaces are tight. You may want to park as you get close to the Yosemite Village as anywhere you can find a parking space, and use the free park shuttles to get around.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
71,255 posts
132 reviews
2. Re: One day driving through Yosemite - what to see


Open the full TripAdvisor website, not the app. Look to the right. Read the relevant topics in the Top Questions.

Trip Reports: What have other travelers done in Yosemite?

Itinerary Ideas: Former TripLists

What can I do in Yosemite Valley?

What can I do along Glacier Point Road?

Where can I see Giant Sequoias?

What is the best month to visit Yosemite? What can I do in fall, winter, or spring?

Can I see a map of Yosemite?


You will definitely need to park in the Valley and to use the shuttle, your feet, or rental bikes to get around. If you like tours, take the open air $27 2 hour Valley Floor Tour. I am not saying it is "best" to do a tour as that's a personal choice. If it appeals to you, make reservations.

If you don't mind more driving, take your picnic dinner with you and drive up to Glacier Point (1 hour) for some fabulous views. It's probably close to 2 hours from Glacier Point to Mariposa, so that would be mean leaving the Valley around 4, stopping briefly at Tunnel View, driving on to Glacier Point, enjoying a picnic dinner, and leaving GP around 6 to get to Mariposa by 8.

Personally, I would not try to hike among Giant Sequoias AND visit Yosemite Valley AND drive up to Glacier Point in one day. But it's your trip.

Can you visit Calaveras Big Trees State Park on the day before you drive to Yosemite?

Lodi, California
Destination Expert
for Lodi
Level Contributor
2,321 posts
27 reviews
3. Re: One day driving through Yosemite - what to see


As Pacific mentioned can you leave SF a few hours earlier and check out Calaveras Big Trees State Park above Murphys and Arnold on Hwy 4. It would be about an hour drive from Big Trees to Jamestown.

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