Lower Yosemite Fall
Walk from the bus stop to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall – about a quarter of a mile. Be prepared to get wet in spring when runoff is at its peak; in any season you’ll be impressed by the imposing height of one of the world’s most famous falls.
This is the trailhead for hikes to Vernal and Nevada Falls, Half Dome, and other high country destinations (except in Winter). Walk to the Vernal Fall bridge (seven-tenths) of a mile) for a breathtaking view of this beautiful cataract, or continue on to the top of the fall (if you’ve got the energy). This route is known as the Mist Trail for reasons that will be obvious. During the summer, the Nature Center at Happy Isles offers exhibits and books.
From the shuttle bus stop (not accessible in Winter), Mirror Lake is a half-mile walk up a slight grade. While the lake no longer offers the mirror-like surface for which it was named (it’s filling up with silt), one of the best views of Half Dome is had from its banks. The hike around the lake is easy and rewarding.
When you’ve seen and done all you want by shuttle bus, you will need your car to finish up in Yosemite Valley.
Follow road signs to the Wawona Road (to Wawona and Fresno). Immediately after turning on to the Wawona Road, turn left into the Bridalveil Fall parking lot. The short trail leads to the base of the fall where a sheet of water floats downward 620 feet to the valley floor.
Turn left back onto the Wawona Road and drive approximately three miles to Tunnel View turnout, which is just below the entrance to the Wawona Tunnel. Before you is the classic panoramic view of Yosemite Valley that greeted the first visitors here.
A 32-mile drive from Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point is unquestionably a “must see” for visitors with limited time. Within 200 yardsof the parking lot is the top of the sheer southern wall of Yosemite Valley. Not only does the valley lie 3,200 feet below you, but also the entire park is revealed with astounding vistas in every direction. Most of Yosemite’s major peaks are identified, and exhibits explain the geologic processes that created this amazing landscape. The road to Glacier Point is closed in winter.
Tuolumne Meadows and the Tioga Pass
Open in summer only, the Tioga Road bisects the park and leads through Tuolumne Meadows, a beautiful sub-alpine meadow surrounded by soaring granite crags and polished domes. If your trip takes you out of the park to the east, the Tioga Road is lined with scenery and exhibits describing it. Be sure to stop at Olmsted Point for its remarkable view of Tenaya Canyon and the back side of Half Dome, and of Tenaya Lake, the deep-blue, icy-cold waters of which form Yosemite’s largest natural lake.