Our Perfect Yosemite Day Trip

We spent one day and two nights in Yosemite. Was it enough time? You bet. Could we have used more time? Of Course! Below I will detail our journey from LAX to Yosemite, and how we managed to score a perfect day in Yosemite National Park.

Day 1 - Friday, May 11th (Check-in):

We spent a total of about eight hours driving from LAX to the Redwood Lodge with a few stops along the way. We stopped three times. Once for lunch, once for coffee/stretch break, and once to pick up groceries for dinner and breakfast for the next couple of days. Here is the breakdown of our day on Friday:

10:00am -  Arrive at LAX to pick up family
11:00am - Stopped at the in-and-out in Van Nuys
1:30pm - Stopped at the Starbucks in Deleno
3:00pm - Stopped at Sprouts Farmer's Market in Fresno to pick up our food items for when in Yosemite
5:30pm - Arrived at The Redwoods in Yosemite

We fired up the outdoor grill for dinner the moment we walked into the cabin. That gave us plenty of daytime to explore the Redwoods area after dinner, which I certinaly suggest doing. There is a beautifyul river (The South Fork Merced River) that is just a short walk away:

Day 2 - Saturday, May 12th (Yosemite Day):

- Breakfast
6:40am - Drive to Yosemite Valley
7:20am - Brief Stop at Tunnel View Point:

7:30am - Short stop at Bridalveil Falls:
               We had the viewpoint all to ourselves for about 5 minutes before people started showing up. One of the advantages of getting up early.

8:10am - Arrive at Yosemite Village Visitor Parking Lot
               Warning: Parking at Yosemite can be abysmal if you don't come early. It's best to park early in the morning and walk or bike wherever you need to go for the rest of the day. The valley area isn't that big and most of the attractions are within a reasonable walking distance from one another.

8:30am - Yosemite Lower Falls Trail and Vista Point

10:15am - Yosemite Valley Chapel
                  It's a beautiful walk from the Yosemite Lower Falls Vista Point to the Yosemite Valley Chapel. If you decide to make the trip, then no doubt you'll be awestruck by the views you'll get on route and once you arrive to the destination.

11:15am - Lunch. Degnan's Kitchen in Yosemite Village
12:30pm - The Majestic Yosemite Hotel Visit
                  This is a good place for a bathroom break if you need one.
12:45pm - Valley Loop Trail towards Mirror Lake
                  We didn't do the whole loop. Nevertheless, this was a great way to enjoy a trail away from the crowds with even still amazing scenery.

2:15pm - Head back to The Redwoods
3:15pm - Wowona Vistor Center
                I had to get my Yosemite sticker! They also have a very nice historical center near this visitor center that goes through how the park was established.
5:00pm - Back in the Cabin for Dinner

Again, we had a gracious amount of daylight to explore the Redwoods area after dinner. It's easy to spend a couple of hours outside exploring the area. Or if you are like me, you could just enjoy the view.

Day 3 - Monday, May 13th (Check-out):

7:00am - Rise
7:30am - Breakfast
8:30am - Chilnualna Trail Head (Lower Falls Only)
                This trail is a must. Especially if you are in the park in May. Beautiful granite staircases take you up alongside the Chilnualna Creek, which flows harmoniously downwards through various stages of small pools. The result is a perfect blend of waterfalls, forest, rock, and adventure. I felt like Indiana Jones trekking through here.

If you are looking for a day trip to Yosemite, the key is to start early. You can see a lot in day if planned correctly. My suggestions:

1) Get accommodations within the park
2) For Yosemite Valley parking, get to the lot before 9:00am
3) For extra fun and information - use the Yosemite GyPSy App. It has some helpful tips that automatically play as you are driving through the park.