By X-Mun

From San Jose to Yosemite is about 4 hours drive, going through HWY 120.

It is best to start off around 6am or slightly earlier, pick up MacDonald for breakfast. Ideally, you will reach Yosemite Valley around 10:30am -11:00am. The valley is a circle, it is about 30-45 min drive around the loop. During summer time, the day is longer. You can take your time to do some short hike  or stop along the way for some pictures.

For a short trip like this, I have picked out a few locations which I think it is the best way to see Yosemite.


A) Driving in from El Portal, you will see the view starting to open up. After some distance, on the left hand side you will see El Capitan and further in you will see Half Dome. And soon you will see a “red” chapel on your right. Make a stop along the Merced river. Take break and short walk on the Sentinel Bridge  (~ 30 min).

B) Just right next to the Visitor Center is Yosemite Fall, there is a trail that can hike to see and feel the Yosemite Lower Fall. You will get wet, remember to bring along an umbrella or a rain coat (~ 2 hours).

C) Head back into Yosemite Visitor Center, if you haven’t got your lunch. This is the place you want to get food and drinks. There is a gift shop and a post office ( ~ 1 hour lunch break).

D) Drive further down toward El Capitan, make a stop between Horse Tail Fall and Ribbon Fall. Go into the open space and look up to El Capitan and you should be able to see some climbers on it (be sure to bring a telescope or a zoom lens) (~ 15  mins break).

E) Valley View is a must stop for picture.

Around 4:00 pm, start driving toward Tunnel View. Make a stop right before entering the tunnel. Spend about 20min-30min to take some pictures and enjoy the view.

Tunnel View

If you still have some energy left, head south and around Fish Camp make a left to go up to Glacier Point. It is about a half an hour drive up. The view of the whole valley is beautiful. Easily you can spend an hour enjoying the walk and the view. This will be the last stop and there are 2 ways of getting out of Yosemite National Park.

1)      Head back to tunnel loop back to the El Portal Entrance. Drive on HWY 120. Grab a burger along the way.

2)      Head south toward the HWY 41, stop by Oakhust for Chinese food and gas (the drive is longer).

You should be back in San Jose before midnight.

(NOTE: Bring a lot of drinking water)


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