Yosemite Weekend Trips – Your 2 Day Itinerary

Yosemite National Park is home to world-famous sights like El Capitan and Half Dome, lush meadows, rushing waterfalls, and miles of hiking trails to let you explore it all. Although most guests report feeling like no trip is ever long enough, Yosemite weekend trips are a popular way to get a taste of Yosemite and help you plan future adventures depending on your favorite excursions and activities.

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Planning Your Yosemite Weekend Getaway

Family Hike at Hetch Hetchy flip.to (Jessica B. 2023)

When to Visit Yosemite

Yosemite is stunning year-round, and every season presents a unique set of opportunities and adventures. Spring brings magnificent displays of wildflowers and waterfalls rushing at peak power as the Sierra snowmelt fills the vast watersheds throughout the region. Fall is famous for  intensely colorful changing leaves and cooler temperatures perfect for hiking. Summer provides warm weather and long sunny days perfect for rafting or picnicking along a river. Winter blankets the park in glistening white snow for fantastic snowshoe hikes on wide open trails throughout the park and groves of giant sequoia trees.

How to get to Yosemite

If you’re within driving distance, we recommend taking in the sights on the way! Yosemite and the surrounding areas hold beautiful views and overlooks for you to enjoy on your drive. Here’s how you can get to Evergreen Lodge Yosemite.

If you’re flying in for your Yosemite adventure, Fresno-Yosemite International Airport is a terrific regional option. You’ll find many more carriers and times available through San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento airports, all within about a 3-hour scenic drive to Yosemite.

The friendly experts at Evergreen Lodge have put together a terrific list of options and driving directions for you on their Directions and Transportation webpage.

Where to Stay in Yosemite for a Weekend Trip

Wondering where to stay in Yosemite? Look no further than Evergreen Lodge’s Yosemite cabins. With decades of experience curating unforgettable Yosemite vacations, this newly expanded historic resort near Yosemite National Park is the perfect basecamp for your stay.

Just outside the park’s lesser-known northwest Hetch Hetchy entrance, Evergreen Lodge offers a classic mountain lodge feel with modern amenities, guided excursions, and daily resort activities like nightly fireside s’mores, all with no hidden resort fees.

Essential Yosemite Gear

Depending on when you visit the park, your essential Yosemite gear will vary, aside from the basics like comfortable hiking boots/shoes, sunscreen, a reusable water bottle, and your chosen navigation methods. 

Seasoned Yosemite guides recommend dressing in light layers, as the temperatures in the park can rise and drop quickly with weather conditions.

Wondering what to pack for a trip to Yosemite? Check out Evergreen’s expert Yosemite packing list for tips.

If you’re not taking one of Evergreen’s professionally guided excursions, be sure to stop by Evergreen’s friendly Recreation Desk for free planning advice on the best plans and supplies for your party’s adventure.

Must-Do Yosemite Experiences

Glacier Point (Molly S. Flip.to 6-17-19)

Iconic Yosemite Sights

  • Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America
  • Half Dome, a visual wonder and widely considered one of the most challenging day hikes in any national park 
  • El Capitan, the birthplace of big wall climbing and subject of Oscar-winning documentary Free Solo

Tunnel View is an unforgettable first look at Yosemite Valley and a picture perfect backdrop with El Capitan rising to the north, Half Dome looming in the distance, the mighty Merced River meandering through the middle, and Bridalveil Fall effortlessly accentuating the south rim of the Valley.

Depending on when you visit Yosemite, the best views and sites to see will vary. For example, while Bridalveil Fall flows year-round, in the summer you’ll have to venture out of the Valley if you want to experience the cool mist of Yosemite’s legendary waterfalls.

If planning your own itinerary seems daunting, read on for a sample itinerary for a weekend trip to Yosemite. Keep in mind that Evergreen offers dozens of professionally guided excursions throughout the year, and their friendly Recreation team happily dishes out free planning advice if you prefer to explore on your own.

Best Yosemite Weekend Hikes

Evergreen Lodge offers a variety of guided Yosemite excursions with effort levels to suit everything from leisurely driving tours to moderate hikes and even advanced mountaineering.   Options range from full and half day adventures or shorter trips to accommodate any schedule. 

  • Big Trees Hike & Swim: a half day trip along historic Big Oak Flat Road into a grove of Yosemite’s famous Giant Sequoias for exploration and a dip in a refreshing Yosemite swimming hole to round out the hike.
  • Hetch Hetchy Wapama Falls Naturalist Hike: a half day excursion through a lesser-known part of Yosemite that resembles a smaller version of Yosemite Valley, this 2.2 mile hike along the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir to Wapama Falls ends in a relaxing break at the falls before heading back to the lodge.
  • Yosemite Valley Explorer Tour: one of the best ways to see Yosemite Valley’s iconic spots, your guide will show you the way on a moderate hike that traverses hidden trails showcasing pristine meadows, impressive boulders, seasonal creeks, and incredible views that most visitors miss.

Making the Most of Your Time

Youth at Carlon Falls (Sam S.)

Weekend in Yosemite Itinerary

Day One

  • Arrive at Evergreen Lodge and settle in – unpack your bags from travel and get ready for adventuring in Yosemite 
  • Visit the Recreation Center for help planning your Yosemite explorations, or relax by the fire and play some classic board games with your group
  • Stretch your legs and have some outdoor fun in Evergreen’s many play areas, like the Forest Disc Golf course, bocce ball courts, ziplines, or ping pong in the Plaza
  • You can also stroll along the lodge’s own Nature Trail or enjoy Yosemite’s Carlon Falls hike just 10 minutes from Evergreen Lodge
  • Enjoy a delicious dinner at Evergreen Lodge’s on-site restaurant, then venture outside for your first night of complimentary dessert s’mores around the lodge’s outdoor fireplace
  • Head back to your room and get some sleep for day two!

Day Two

  • Fuel up for the day’s adventures with a hearty mountain breakfast in Evergreen’s charming historic Restaurant
  • Choose a full day guided excursion to get the most out of your weekend trip to Yosemite
    • Yosemite Alpine Adventure: a customizable trip in Yosemite’s alpine high country, treating you to unparalleled vista views of the Sierra Nevada’s majestic peaks.
    • Half Dome Journey: one of the most enduring challenges in Yosemite, this single day hike covers about 17 miles with an elevation gain of 4,800 feet – not for beginners or the faint of heart, as the crux of the hike means ascending via the legendary steel cables affixed to Half Dome’s granite face.
    • South Rim of Yosemite Valley Naturalist Hike: starting with Red Fir groves and meadows of wildflowers and traveling on through the less-visited vista at Dewey Point in the southern rim, this hike offers unbeatable views of Bridalveil Fall, The Three Brothers, Clark Range, El Capitan, and other Yosemite icons.
  • Relax and refresh in the 2,000 square foot heated saltwater swimming pool at Evergreen Lodge, or hop into the hot tub for soothing relief after a long hike – if you time it right, you can get some of the best stargazing in Yosemite from the hot tub! 
  • Grab a relaxed dinner and drinks at Evergreen Lodge’s Tavern

Beat the Crowds in Yosemite

The early bird still gets the worm in Yosemite! Beat the crowds at popular spots by starting your days early. While you’ll encounter folks chasing the sunrise and others who have caught on to this trick, you have your best bet at a peaceful and nearly-private experience in Yosemite when you start early. 

Looking for less-traveled trails in Yosemite? Ask Evergreen Lodge about lesser-known trails and hidden gems in Yosemite – some of the park’s most beautiful spots are tucked away from the crowds.

Where to Eat in Yosemite

Fuel your Yosemite adventure with Evergreen Lodge’s on-site dining options. From top-notch dining at the Restaurant to ready-made snacks and picnic fixings at the General Store, Evergreen Lodge has dining in Yosemite covered! The Tavern at Evergreen Lodge has been a Yosemite staple for over 100 years, and makes the perfect spot to unwind and debrief with your group after an exciting day in Yosemite. 

Yosemite’s beauty will stay with you long after your trip ends, and even a weekend escape allows you the opportunity to bask in the glory of this world-famous national park. Start planning your Yosemite getaway today! Find packages and offers that will make for an unforgettable experience.