There are two types of hikers in my opinion. Those that will take a trail just for the hike itself, and then there are hikers like me. The ones that are looking for something at the end of the trail 😂 Whether that be a beautiful waterfall, a hidden hot springs, or even just a quiet grove. Although I like the actual hike, I quite enjoy having a place to reach. If you’re the same, then here are the 4 best hikes in Yosemite with incredible views.
Not only will I share 4 incredible hikes that guarantee views, I’ll also tell you where the best place is to stay while visiting Yosemite National Park. Because we all know that a good place to stay is crucial to making a trip fantastic.
Where to Stay near Yosemite National Park
I researched in depth of where to stay as soon as I knew I would be heading to Yosemite. It wasn’t long until I found the Tenaya Lodge! It took approximately 2.3 seconds of viewing their website to sell me!
There is usually one aspect that will stand out to me while staying somewhere and the Tenaya Lodge EXCELS at their hospitality. Seriously, I have never been to a hotel/inn/lodge where everyone was so friendly! From the very moment we checked in, everyone was wishing us a good day, asking if we needed anything, or giving us tips on how to best enjoy our experience. Even the friendly lady managing all the breakfast guests remembered us from the first morning and made a point to ask how our first day went! Seriously, you won’t find a more hospitable staff.
Types of accommodations at the Tenaya Lodge
Okay, you’ve now decided to book a stay at the Tenaya Lodge but are wondering which room type you should get? You can get your choice between their rooms at the lodge, the cottages, or their new explorer cottages that are opening summer 2019! (pictured below)
They’ve also got plenty of packages to choose from including romantic packages, Yosemite Park Pass Options, Breakfast for Two packages, etc. We had the opportunity to stay in the lodge and let me tell you they are every bit as incredible as they look on the website! The high-end bathroom products, cozy robes, comfortables beds, and insane views of the forest were just a few of my favorite parts.
The Ascent Spa is open to all guests who stay at the Tenaya Lodge, even if you don’t have a treatment scheduled (although I highly recommend that you book one)! After two days of hiking, we enjoyed slipping into the comfy robes, grabbing us a cup of lemon water, and relaxing in the reclining seats. Perhaps my favorite part? The sauna and steam room!
Where To Eat
Next, I have to talk about the food options! Are you a planner like me and are always planning on what meals you’ll be having while on vacation (because food is life, right)? Well, I’m happy to say that the Tenaya Lodge has got you covered. We enjoyed the deluxe breakfast buffet each morning we were there and appreciated the fact that one of the on-site restaurants, the newly-renovated Jackalopes Bar and Grill, stayed open until 10 pm as we usually didn’t get back from the park until 9 pm. Check out their other food options here.
Lastly, I have to tell you about the activities that they offer! Horseback riding, nature hikes, mountain biking, rock climbing, yoga classes… you name it and they’ve got it! We were able to channel our inner Katniss Everdeen and try archery while we were there. You can find the full list of activities here.
4 Yosemite Hikes With Guaranteed Incredible Views:
1- Artist Point
Anybody that knows about Yosemite National Park has surely seen a photo of Tunnel View. This is by far the most famous panorama view that you’ll get in the entire park. And because of that popularity, it gets crowded! Tripods line the wall at sunrise and swarms of people fill it during the rest of the day. (It reminded me of seeing Delicate Arch at Arches National Park). No joke, as I was standing there taking in the view I was told to move out of the way so someone could go ahead and get their Instagram shot. Still want the view but want to enjoy solitude instead of crowds? Artist point is the spot for you!
Artist Point is a 2 mile round trip hike that begins at the Parking Lot for Tunnel View (you’ll just have to be patient in waiting for a spot). It’s a moderate hike that took us about 2 hours (that includes the 30 minutes we spent taking in the view. The trail is slightly difficult to follow. We got lost several times and had to backtrack in order to find the trail again.
I HIGHLY encourage you to download the All Trails map because without it, we would have never made it to the end. The first part of the trail is mostly lined with small boulders on either side. The second part of the trail deters a lot people because of the many fallen trees…don’t get discouraged, keep going! I love sunrise hikes, but because of the difficulty of the trail, I would recommend doing it during the day or at sunset so you at least have some light.
In my opinion, Artist Point is superior to the Tunnel View Parking Lot view because you get to see more of Clouds Rest, Bridalveil Meadow, and the Merced River! And the best part? No crowds! We sat here for 30 minutes and only encountered one other couple quietly sitting and taking in the view.
2- Sentinel/Cook’s Meadow Loop
The second best hike in Yosemite is Sentinel/Cook’s Meadow Loop. If you are looking for the perfect day hike, this is it. This easy 2.25-mile hike takes you through meadows, provides excellent views of Yosemite Falls & Half Dome, and allows you to walk through cute boardwalks through the valley. I’m sure this hike is beautiful year-round but if at all possible, visit during the Spring.
The waterfall is roaring and you’ll find wildflowers all over the place. We even encountered some flooded meadows which provided beautiful reflections in the water. You can spend as long as you want, but I would plan on two hours. The only downside is that you will encounter crowds because it is such an easy hike. Still worth it! If you on on the hike during sunset, be sure to stop at Sentinel Bridge to get an amazing shot!
This was the first hike that I’ve ever completed in Yosemite so it will always be special to me. The trail is a bit strenuous, but take it slow and you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view. With Vernal Fall you have two options. First, you can stop at the Vernal Fall Footbridge which will be a 1.6-mile round trip hike.
If you get to the point and decide that you can’t go any further, no worries! You still get to stand over top of the roaring river and see the Fall in the near distance. The second option is continuing to the Top of Vernal Fall to get up close and personal with the waterfall! It will result in a total of 2.4 miles round trip and a stretch of slick rock due to the constant mist. So wear good shoes and hold onto the rails.
Best time to visit Vernal Fall? Springtime in the late afternoon! Not only will the waterfall be at its’ peak, but you’ll most likely get a beautiful rainbow! We stayed for about twenty minutes and loved every moment of it! You’ll get wet unless you are wearing a raincoat so plan on that. In my opinion, it was the perfect reward after sweating on the trail. This is not to be missed!
4- Mariposa Grove
The fourth best hike in Yosemite of Mariposa Grove is Another advantage of staying at the Tenaya Lodge is that you’ll only be a few miles from the Mariposa Grover which is near the South Entrance of the Park. The Mariposa Grove is the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite! You’ll find more than 500 giant sequoias in this grove.
The Mariposa Grove was closed for three years as it went through a massive restoration project. It wasn’t until mid-2018 that it re-opened again. The grove has a large parking lot where you’ll find the shuttle that will take you to the trailhead. The shuttle is a short ride and comes every 10 minutes. Once you arrive, you’ll have to decide on how ambitious you feel as there are four different routes to choose from.
-Big Trees Loop Trail (0.3 miles)
-Grizzly Giant Loop Trail (2 miles)
-Guardians Loop Trail (6.5 miles)
-Mariposa Grove Trail (7 miles)
We opted for the Grizzly Giant Loop Trail and loved that decision! It was the first hike of the day so it was a great warm-up as it was relatively easy. You’ll see famous trees such as the Bachelor and Three Graces (which was my favorite), the Grizzly Giant, and the California Tunnel Tree.
I hope you enjoy these 4 best hikes in Yosemite National Park that lead to incredible views!
Don’t stop at just Yosemite! California has so much to offer. Check out this 10 Day Road Trip Guide To California!
Our stay was hosted by the Tenaya Lodge but all opinions remain our own.
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