In September we took a 3-week trip around Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Lake Havasu (Arizona). We also managed to squeeze in a night camping in Yosemite National Park!
Anyone who has been to Yosemite, or even has it high up on their bucket list will know how quickly camping spots sell out. It is recommended that you book your spot up to 6 months in advance to secure a place in some of the camping sites closest to the Valley. Luckily, there was one camping space left at Crane Flat campground during our 3-week trip. Crane flat was about a 45-minute drive from the Valley, which I was a bit unsure about to start with, but it ended up being absolutely fine!
Before we arrived
Before we got to Yosemite, I wasn’t really sure what to expect in terms of getting around. I’d heard there were buses, but I couldn’t really find a lot of information online. We’d rented a car to drive from Los Angeles to Yosemite anyway, so we actually ended up driving to the various points around Yosemite instead of getting the bus, as this was a lot easier.
Having a car also made it so much easier for us to get up to Glacier Point at sunset, and back down, as well as getting up earlier the next day to spend a whole day in the Valley before driving back to LA. Bear in mind, that we went in September – but parking is more difficult in peak months like July and August!
There is so much to see and do here, given the size of the Valley and how long it can take you to get from place to place. You definitely need at least a few days to really enjoy yourselves. We did a “highlights” trip because of how little time we had. Below is an itinerary of what we managed to squeeze in.
Getting to Yosemite
We stayed overnight in Fresno the night before so that we could break up the 6-hour drive from LA. We left Motel 6 at about 9 am but stopped at Starbucks, Walmart, and a gas station because we were horrifically unorganised.
Arriving at Yosemite
We probably got to Yosemite at about 1 pm, stopped straight away for incredible photo ops at Tunnel View! It is beautiful and gives an amazing view over the rest of the valley. We then headed straight for our campground. We set up our tent, put our belongings away and drove 45 minutes back down to the Valley. We had a quick look in the shop and then went walking to a waterfall that we never found (fail).
Glacier Point for Sunset
With sunset scheduled for about 6:30 pm, we headed back to the car and drove up to Glacier Point to watch the highly recommended sunset. This was an absolute highlight for me, honestly, if you do one thing in Yosemite it should be this. Watching the left side of half Dome become a beautiful glowing pinky-orange as the sun began to set was magical, even if it was freezing cold. After enjoying the views and seizing plenty of photo opportunities, we drove back to the campsite, started our fire, cooked our dinner, drank beer and roasted marshmallows before attempting to sleep.
Confession: we are not avid campers, perhaps we were naive, but we definitely were NOT prepared a) for the amount of rocks and stones we had set our tent up on making it impossible to get comfortable, and b) for the freezing cold temperatures. I ended up wearing leggings, long socks, a long sleeve top and a huge jumper. Rupert was even less prepared than me and was literally just wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Needless to say we ditched the tent and instead slept in the car with the heating on. Note to future self: don’t attempt to camp without proper supplies again.
The next day we woke up with stiff necks, and not so fresh, but made ourselves breakfast, packed a lunch, packed up the car and drove back down to the valley. We went on a hike in search of the lower Yosemite Falls only to find them completely dried up.. another fail. Luckily the sheer beauty of this place made up for anything slightly negative we may have experienced.
After our unsuccessful hike to the falls we stopped by the river for a bit of wild swimming. The water was freezing, but everywhere we looked was stunning, and we both fell asleep laying on the little pebble shore by the river. When we woke up, it was time to start the dreaded 6 hour drive back to LA (we stopped for in-n-out on the way to make it more bearable of course).
We really couldn’t do Yosemite much justice in the short 24 hours that we were there, but we still had the most incredible time. It was the highlight of the whole trip for both of us, and if anything has given us the perfect excuse to go back and visit again!