3 Days in Yosemite

YosemiteWomen’s Movement | August 16, 2013

By L. Clark Tate

With a land mass of 1,169 miles, which is about the size of Rhode Island, Yosemite National Park is massive and can easily feel overwhelming, especially during the busy summer season. Here’s our take on how to travel Yosemite—and experience the roads less traveled in John Muir’s temple in just three days.

Day One: To really see the valley, you have to climb out of it. Start by climbing Upper Yosemite Falls. The round-trip journey consists of 7.2 miles of granite staircase. By the time you reach the top, you’ll have climbed the equivalent of two Empire State Building staircases. Bring lunch and plan for about seven hours of hiking. If you reach the top wanting more, keep walking. The secret to solitude in Yosemite is a hundred yards past the last scenic view of every day hike. After dinner, catch the shuttle to the meadow below El Capitan. Grant the stars—and the flickering headlamps of rock climbers high above—a nice long stare.

Day Two: While hiking Half Dome is spectacular, we prefer the less-storied Panorama Trail. Start the trek with a morning bus ride to glorious Glacier Point. Descend the Panorama Trail to the Mist Trail, winding past Nevada and Vernal Falls to reach the valley floor in 8.5 miles. Expect expansive vistas and prepare to be misted, sprayed, or drenched by waterfalls depending on flows. To up the ante, hike the Four-Mile Trail (4.7 miles) to gain Glacier Point, adding an additional three hours to a six-hour tour.

Day Three: Relax. Enjoy apple flapjacks at the historic Ahwahnee Hotel and bike tour the 12 miles of Yosemite’s designated—and highly scenic—bike paths. Or, drift along Yosemite’s Merced River in a rented raft, picnicking on your beach of choice.

Tips: Book lodging far in advance or get to first-come-first-serve campsites early (and preferably mid-week)—pre-8:30 a.m. Plan accordingly and sign up for the daily 8:30am rock climbing lessons at the Yosemite Mountaineering School, which also features a three-day Girls on Granite program.

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