10 Things to See and Do in Yosemite Valley
My Top 10 List
1. Take a hike. A short one is Bridalveil Falls. A longer one is to the top of Yosemite Falls
2. Rent a bike at Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge.
3. Explore the Yosemite Museum.
4. Walk the loop inside the Indian Village to learn about the Native Americans that lived in the Valley.
5. Have a meal at the spectacular Ahwahanee Hotel dining room.
6. Listen to a Ranger Talk at the Yosemite Lodge at nightfall.
7. In the winter, ice skate at Curry Village and ski at Badger Pass.
8. Drive up to Glacier Point to take in the awe-inspiring views.
9. Raft down the stream near Sentinel Beach. Rafts are available to rent during the summer at Curry Village.
10. Ride a horse on a guided tour from the Yosemite Stables.
Diving into Yosemite Valley, 95% of the tourists only visit 1% of the park area to observe the highest waterfall in North America - Yosemite Falls and snap photos on their iPhones and Canon cameras. They capture the beauty of Nevada Falls, Sentinel and Ribbon falls.
Guests hike to a spot to photograph Half Dome and El Capitan. Some bring binoculars to see if they can spot a world class mountain climber.
Yosemite became a National Park in 1890. The Valley is 7-miles and 4000 ft. above sea level. There are 77 mammal species and 223 bird species throughout the park.
It costs $20 per vehicle to drive into Yosemite park. The pass is good for 7 days. Save your receipt, because you need to show it when you leave the park.
Be sure to bring or rent bicycles, as there are 13 miles of paved surface to ride without navigating automobiles or buses. Bike rentals are available at Curry Village and Yosemite Lodge.
Once you arrive in Yosemite Valley, park your car and walk, ride a bike or hike through the valley.
The Best Views in Yosemite
Glacier Point offers incredible views of Half Dome, Vernal Falls, North Dome and Cloud's Rest. It's a pretty easy drive to Glacier Point with a large parking lot. Walk to the edge and over to Geology Hut to observe towering granite, lush forest, raging waterfalls and Emerald green meadows in the Spring and Summer.
Hike from Glacier Point all the way down to Yosemite Valley. It's about a 4 mile hike. We had someone drive down to the Valley and walk up to meet us, so we didn't have to walk the 8 miles uphill with loose sandy soil and narrow switchbacks.
Another awe-inspiring spot is the tunnel view. It's one of the most recognizable vistas that was captured on film from Ansel Adams. Adjacent to Wawona Road, this view spot affords expansive views of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and Half Dome.
View of Half Dome and Waterfalls from Glacier Point
Where To Stay in Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
Many have balconies and patios
Canvas Tents and Cabins
Lodge style rooms
guest rooms and cottages
Ahwahnee Grand Hotel
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Yosemite's Grand Hotel
Driving past the stone gate house with an unpretentious Ahwahnee sign, one feels as if they are stepping back in time. Built in 1927, this elegant building attracted Queen Elizabeth II, Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, Gertrude Stein, Ansel Adams, Lucille Ball, Will Rogers, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan to stay here while visiting Yosemite Valley.
Walking down the long porte cochere and stepping into the reception area one notices geometric patterns paying homage to California Native Americans.
What looks like wood siding with stone accents is actually concrete poured into rough-sewn wood. Hotels in Yosemite burned down to the ground, so the architect and builder wanted to make this 123 guest room masterpiece fireproof.
A small pool set among the trees was built in the 60s. The staff keeps it heated to compensate for not having a hot whirlpool. It's so warm you can walk or drive right in.
In the main lounge during the late afternoon is a high tea with black or herbal tea in China cups with saucers and gourmet cookies for guests staying at the hotel.
The dining room has a 34-foot high ceiling with massive windows and stone columns. The food is good, but not spectacular. During Christmas they put on an annual Bracebridge Dinner. It's a three house seven-course dinner filled with drama and symbolism with over 100 singers and dining room employees for 350 guests.
Dining in Yosemite Valley
Curry Village Pizza Patio
The Ahwahnee Dining
View of the Yosemite Falls
Dine al fresco on the patio
Awe-inspiring Dining Room
Great sit down dining
Good pizza and beer
Pricey food that is good, but not great