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If you only have one day to spend in Yosemite Valley, here are some ideas to make the most of your limited time.
This Traveler Article will help you as you begin your entrance into this beautiful valley.
This is a great map of the Valley. Drive into the Valley on any of the park roads, following the guidelines in the article above if possible, and find a spot to park in the Visitor Parking Lot.
The two hour Valley Floor Tour is a wonderful way to orient yourself to the Valley including its sights and its history. Usually this tour is conducted in an open top tram, so it's best in the early morning or end of the day during the hottest months. In winter, this is a bus tour. Young children may have a hard time sitting for this long. Handicapped guests need to request an accessible tour at least 24 hours in advance. The tour departs from Shuttle Stop 8 at the Yosemite Lodge.
There are numerous options for lunch. Picnicking is a favorite for many, if you have planned ahead and brought your food. Try eating by the river or in a meadow or stop in one of the numerous picnic areas on the map. If you have binoculars, try to spot climbers on El Capitan while you relax on solid ground.
Both the Yosemite Village area and the Curry Village area have usual lunch fare like pizza, tacos, and burgers. The Ahwahnee Dining Room is a luxury choice for lunch; the views are marvelous. The chili served in the Ahwahnee Bar is enjoyed by many.
After lunch, get on the shuttle and head over to one of the waterfall shuttle stops. At the Nature Center at Happy Isles, you'll also find Vernal Fall. It has water year-round, although its flow is minimal in the late summer and fall. The hike to the Vernal Fall footbridge viewpoint is only 2 miles round trip, but the path is steep enough that it's very challenging to push a stroller. Shuttle Stop 16
A more accessible trail is the Lower Yosemite Fall trail. The first half is wheelchair accessible; others can continue on the trail to make a loop. It is usually dry by late summer, but always beautiful. Shuttle Stop 6
If you want to walk up to Bridalveil Fall, you'll need to drive. The shuttle doesn't run that far.
Touring the Valley on a bicycle is a popular option. Stay on the bike trails, and follow the map. Bikes are available to rent from both Yosemite Lodge and Curry Village. During busy summer months, all the bikes may be rented. If this is a top choice for you, head over there first thing in the morning.
Now, as the day is coming to a close, sit and relax. Enjoy another view from a meadow, watch the river tumble over the rocks, listen to the loud call of the Steller’s Jays, and reflect on your day.