Spring in Yosemite, what it is like?
The snow has melted in nearly all of the lower elevation places, the rivers and streams are rushing, the baby animals are strolling, the flowers are in full bloom, and the mountains are calling. What better way to see the natural beauty of Yosemite than by taking a hike during this exciting time? Whether you are looking for a short and sweet hike through the meadow, along the river, or crave a more strenuous hike to visit a raging waterfall, Wawona has you covered.
- Wawona Swinging Bridge Trail
The Wawona Swinging Bridge Trail is a short and mostly flat .75 miles (1.2. km) round-trip hike to the swinging bridge which takes you across the scenic and wild South Fork of the Merced River. It’s beautiful, serene, and the bridge does truly swing. In addition to enjoying the wildflowers, in summer, you can also swim in the river down below, which is not nearly as busy as other water holes and beach spots in Yosemite Valley for example. While you’re in the area, don’t forget to also check out the Pioneer History Center for fun Yosemite history.
- Wawona Meadow Loop
The Wawona Meadow Loop is a relatively flat 3.5 (5.6 km) loop trail that starts at the Big Trees Lodge. Formerly known as the Wawona Hotel, this is one of California’s oldest hotels that has been operating since 1879. This is the only bike and leashed pet-friendly trail in the area, so bring Fido along. It’s also home to various wildflower species, and now is the perfect time to see them!
- Chilnualna Falls
This is a strenuous 8.2 mile (13.1 km) hike, with an elevation gain of 2,400 feet (732 m) that leads you to one of the tallest waterfalls in the park via a series of switchbacks. It begins two miles from the Chilnualna Falls Road, in the Chilnualna Falls parking area. This hike is made up of three cascades, including some smaller ones at the bottom. It’s not heavily trafficked, so you will likely get most of it to yourself. You get bonus points in the summer for dipping in some of the secluded swim holes along this trail.
4. Mariposa Grove Hikes
Mariposa Grove has finally opened for the season! This area is home to wonderful trails winding through some of the world’s oldest trees, including the 1,800-year-old Grizzly Giant. Keep in mind that visitors must park in the south entrance, which is two miles away from the grove. The shuttle busses pick up visitors every 10-20 minutes. Visitors with disability placards can drive to the Grizzly Giant parking area rather than take the shuttle in. Here are a few great hikes within Mariposa Grove:
- Big Trees Loop
This is a very short and easy 0.3 miles (0.4 km) loop trail, that is wheelchair accessible, leading you to the Fallen Monarch tree.
- Grizzly Giant Loop
This is a 2 mile (3.2 km) mile loop trail that’s rated as moderate, with a 300 (91m) elevation gain. In addition to the Grizzly, you will pass other famous trees in the lower grove like the Fallen Monarch, Bachelor, Three Graces, and the California Tunnel Tree.
- Guardians Loop Trail
This is a 6.5 mile (10.5 km) strenuous loop trail, with an elevation gain of 1000 ft (305 m). In addition to passing by Grizzly Giant Loop trees, the trail passes by some notable spots in the upper grove like the Telescope Tree, the fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree and the Mariposa Grove Cabin.
- Mariposa Grove Trail to Wawona Point
This is another somewhat strenuous hike that’s 7.0 miles (11.3 km) in total, with an elevation gain of 1,200 feet (366 m). In addition to the Grizzly Giant Loop trees, you pass by portions of the upper grove, including famous sequoias like Three Graces, the Gaintful Coupole, the Bachelor and the Clothespin Tree. This also leads you to the historic Wawona Point (6,800 ft.) that has a beautiful overlook with a panoramic view.
Looking for a cabin near the hikes? Check out our Current Specials!
All of our 120 Redwoods In Yosemite cabins are located in historic Wawona, near the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park, just a few miles from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Relaxing and private, these fully equipped vacation homes border the wild and scenic South Fork of The Merced River, the Wawona swinging bridge and Chilnualna Falls (the second highest vertical drop waterfalls in Yosemite)! Our Event Center includes full use of the Fireside Room and adjacent deck, with audio and visual equipment and a catering kitchen. Many of our cabins are pet friendly, some feature spa tubs, and all have private decks with BBQ’s and upgraded linens for that, “Home Away from Home” experience. Come on up! Relax. Explore. Escape!
Text credit: Christina Kantzavelos, BuenQamino
Written By Christina Kantzavelos
There is still time! November is a grand time to visit Yosemite National Park. Crisp mornings and cool evenings, sunny days, chromatic views, and the chance of first snow all paint your next perfect travel picture. It is the least crowded time to visit the park, which means quieter and more intimate outdoor adventures. Plus, you can catch a last glimpse of Glacier Point, Tuolumne Meadows and Mariposa Grove before they close for the season. We’ve come up with eight reasons your visit to Yosemite should be in the few remaining weeks of November. And remember to pack layers and tire chains, just in case!
1. Explore Tuolumne Meadows (before they close for the snow season!)
Take advantage of having access to Tuolumne Meadows/Tioga Roads before they close for the snow season. The fall really transforms each of these majestic locations into chromatic wonderlands. Plus, you get to enjoy their beautiful hikes and views in serene solitude, as neither will be as busy as in the summer.
2. Celebrate Thanksgiving in the Park
Enjoy creating a wonderful memory by hosting a Thanksgiving feast in the comfort of your cabin, surrounded by your family, and friends. Not in the mood to cook? Here are three wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner options in the park. Be sure to make a reservation!
3. Visit the Grizzly Giant in Mariposa Grove
If you haven’t visited the newly restored Mariposa Grove, then you’re in for a treat. Hike its beautiful (and partially ADA compatible) trails before it closes for the snow season. Grizzly Giant has never looked more majestic with its colorful leaves!
4. Bike in the Valley
Explore the valley via bicycle, and enjoy the crisp air, colorful leaves, and beautiful views as you bike by or stop to visit the less-crowded Yosemite valley staples.
5. Explore the Museums in the Park
Don’t let November rains scare you! Is it too rainy or snowy to go exploring? Or, are you looking for a relaxing stroll? Then visit the Yosemite Museum in the valley, or walk through the Ansel Adams Gallery, which displays his work as well as other contemporary photographers and artists. If you’re in Wawona, be sure to visit the Pioneer or History Center, which explains the history of Yosemite National Park and how it inspired the growth of national parks across the county and the world.
6. S’mores and BBQs!
Is there a more delicious food group? Gather around the fire, and enjoy roasting juicy fillets and gooey s’mores with your friends and loved ones.
7. Pet Friendly Yosemite Trails to Hike and Enjoy
Take your pup on the Chowchilla Mountain road (the original road to Yosemite), or Wawona Meadow Loop Trail in Wawona. Or, you and your canine can explore Bridalveil Fall trail, Hodgdon Meadow, Glacier Point, Cook’s Meadow Loop, or even Lower Yosemite Falls. You can also bring along your fur-baby on the Mirror Lake Trail, or take the perfect holiday card photo with them in front of Tunnel View. For both you and your pet’s safety, they are not allowed in the meadows, back country, in public buildings, or on shuttle buses. Looking for a pet friendly cabin? We have you covered!
8. Cozy Fireplaces and Hot Tubs
Snuggle up with a mug of delicious steaming cocoa next to the fireplace in your cabin. Or relax with a soothing cup of hot tea next in your hot tub. Not much compares to spending quality time in your cozy cabin, or hot tub, especially when it’s snowing or raining outside.
Looking for a cabin to get cozy in for November?
Our 120 Redwoods In Yosemite cabins are located in Wawona, at the Southern entrance of Yosemite, just a few miles from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Relaxing and private, these fully equipped vacation cabins border the wild and scenic South Fork of The Merced River, the Wawona swinging bridge and Chilnualna Falls (the second highest vertical drop waterfalls in Yosemite)! Our Event Center includes full use of the Fireside Room and adjacent deck, with audio and visual equipment and a catering kitchen. Many of our cabins are pet friendly, some feature spa tubs, and all have private decks with BBQ’s and upgraded linens for that, “Home Away from Home” experience. Relax, explore, escape!
Tioga Pass Road aka Highway 120 makes way for perfect summer and early fall adventures in Tuolumne Meadows. After a heavy winter, the waterfalls are still strong, and there is even some snowmelt on some of high country trails. We have a list to plan your perfect day of trail hiking, whether you’re just looking for a short and sweet stroll or something to test those limits. The best part? Even with its popularity, and short season, Tuolumne tends to be much less crowded than Yosemite Valley (cue prayer hands).
Check out the free Tuolumne Meadow Shuttle if you’re planning to knock out a few trails in a day.
Cathedral Lakes (7-8 miles/Moderate)
Part of the John Muir Trail, this is a gorgeous and very popular scenic hike surrounded by peaks like Cathedral Peak (hence the name) and by Echo and Tresidder Peaks, all standing at 10,000 ft in elevation. The reason Cathedral Lakes is plural is that there is a detour for Lower Cathedral Lake, as well as Upper Cathedral Lake. Lower Cathedral Lake is a more popular destination, but why not visit both?
Tenaya Lake (2.5 miles/Easy)
Get ready for postcard views on this hike, featuring one of Yosemite’s most beautiful and picturesque lakes surrounded by granite domes and peaks. A naturally beautiful hike, its short length and ease makes it popular for good reason.
Elizabeth Lake (4.6 miles/Moderate)
Have you caught on to Tuolomne’s lake theme yet? This hike isn’t as popular as Tenaya Lake, likely because of its steep uphill beginning. However, it’s just as picturesque. The lake is surrounded by evergreens and large gorgeous granite like Unicorn Peak.
Glen Aulin (13 miles/Strenuous)
Alright, so this one isn’t a lake, however, it is a trail that guides you to beautiful Tuolumne Falls and White Cascade. It’s also popular because it’s part of the Pacific Crest Trail and is a gateway to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Yes, Tuolumne Meadows has it all.
Gaylor Lakes (2 miles/moderate)
Easily one of Yosemite’s most underrated hikes. A steep climb rewards you with spectacular views of Dana, Mammoth, Gibbs and other mountains as well as Dana Meadows. In addition, it has five lakes that seem untouched, picturesque, almost like a Hollywood backdrop. If that’s not enough, there’s even an abandoned 1870’s mine that sits above Gaylor Lake.
Mono Pass (8 miles/moderate)
This trans-sierra trail takes you through wet meadows and rushing creeks, providing you with amazing views of Bloody Canyon and stunning Mono Lake. Not nearly as crowded as other trails in the area.
Lyell Canyon via the John Muir Trail (8 miles/Easy)
A pleasant hike that passes through the Lyell fork of the Tuolumne River, as well as the bridged Rafferty Creek and Ireland Creeks. At the eight-mile mark, you are awarded with the Kuna Creek’s cascade. Looking for something shorter? You can walk ½ hour each way to and from the Twin Bridges. Keep in mind, this trail can get muddy and you will likely run into some Pacific Crest Trail and/or John Muir hikers.
Dog Lake (2.8 miles/Moderate)
No, there are no puppies to be found here. Though, there is a still mountain lake, bordered by evergreens and granite mountains. You’re already en route to Lembert Dome, why not continue forward and get a beautiful view of Tuolumne Meadows?
Lembert Dome (2.8 miles/Moderate)
Lembert Dome does not feature a lake or cascade, but it does offer some fantastic views of Tuolumne meadows. If you stay straight at the junction it will lead you to Dog Lake, making it a solid four miles. It may get windy, so hold onto your hats. And as always, stay off domes during chances of thunderstorms.
Soda Spring and Parsons Lodge (1.5 miles/Easy)
Also located in the same parking lot as the Lembert Dome and Dog Lake trailheads. The third hike of the day is a charm, right? This trail takes you to springs that spew cold bubbling water right out of the ground. This is where your carbonated beverages come from. Kidding. And there is an enclosure to ensure you don’t try testing the carbonation levels.
Looking for a home base for your hikes?
All of our 120 Redwoods In Yosemite cabins are located in historic Wawona, near the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park, just a few miles from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias (free shuttle access to grove when you stay with us!). Relaxing and private, these fully equipped vacation homes border the wild and scenic South Fork of The Merced River, the Wawona swinging bridge and Chilnualna Falls (the second-highest vertical drop waterfalls in Yosemite)! Our Event Center includes full use of the Fireside Room and adjacent deck, with audio and visual equipment and a catering kitchen. Many of our cabins are pet-friendly, some feature spa tubs, and all have private decks with BBQ’s and upgraded linens for that, “Home Away from Home” experience. Come on up! Relax. Explore. Escape!
Written By Christina Kantzavelos
Yosemite National Park brings in over four million visitors each year! Since 4 million yearly fans can’t be wrong, there are many reasons to want to visit Yosemite, and plenty of reasons to stay within the park boundaries during your next visit. During peak season, we expect large crowds, heaps of cars, traffic delays (sometimes 1-2 hours), busy attractions, and limited parking and lodging. Here are five reasons why staying in Wawona will allow you to spend less time in your car, and more time enjoying what this great park has to offer…
Avoid the Morning Wait at the Southern Entrance.
Waiting for any attraction is as certain as taxes, and the wait for the entrance to Yosemite can begin up to two miles before you reach the Southern Gate, or other entrances too. After finally driving up to the entrance, why would you want to squander extra waiting in your car? If you’re already in the park, the morning wait is one less thing to worry about, so you can spend your precious vacation time wisely.
How To Spend Less Time Spent Driving in the Valley
If you’re staying closer to Yosemite Valley (in the heart of the park), you have easier access to the park’s free shuttle. Once in the valley, we strongly encourage you to take the free bus rides or book a valley tram tour for example. The shuttle runs from 7 AM – 10 PM daily, and provides access to all of the valley’s hot spots. The more people who opt for the use of the shuttle, the less traffic within the park. It takes about 35-40 minutes, a 26 mile drive, from Wawona to Yosemite Valley. Renting a bicycle is also a great option!
Wawona Walking Distance Perks
Staying in Wawona means you are within walking distance to two local markets, a restaurant in a historical national landmark such as the The Wawona Hotel, gas station, The Pioneer History Village, Thomas Hill Studio, Wawona Stables, barn dancing, stagecoach rides, river walks, swim hole hikes and dips, waterfall access, golfing, a beautiful library, a laundry facility, (deep breath!) and the Mariposa Grove. Basically, you have access to all of these perks from your private home rental nestled in a historic, mountainous, small town inside a national park.
Access to the Mariposa Grove Shuttle from Wawona
If you’re a guest at The Redwoods, then you’re entitled to a free Mariposa Grove Shuttle from Wawona (park and ride at the Wawona General Store near the gas station) to the newly reopened Mariposa Grove Plaza, from where another quick 5 minute bus/shuttle takes you inside the giant sequoia grove.
Fall asleep underneath the Redwoods or lay on a meadow stargazing
There is nothing more serene than staying away from the city buzz, to fall asleep underneath a clear sky in the shade of the Redwoods. You can see just why Theodore Roosevelt had his breath taken away when he first arrived here. There is nothing like enjoying the early mornings, sunset, and evenings in the tranquility of Yosemite’s spectacular natural beauty, so grab the blanket and a picnic basket, and find your spot under Wawona’s starry skies this summer and fall!
Have we convinced you to plan your next stay within the Yosemite National Park?
All of our cozy Redwoods cabins and spacious vacation homes are located in Wawona, at the Southern entrance of Yosemite, just 6 miles from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias (don’t forget the free shuttle access). Relaxing and private, our fully equipped vacation homes and cabins border the wild and scenic South Fork of The Merced River, the Wawona swinging bridge and Chilnualna Falls (the second highest vertical drop waterfalls in Yosemite)! Our Event Center includes full use of the Fireside Room and adjacent deck, with an audio and visual equipment and a catering kitchen. Many of our cabins are pet friendly, some feature spa tubs, and all have private decks with BBQ’s and upgraded linens for that, “Home Away from Home” experience. Relax, explore, escape!
Text collaborator: Christina Kantzavelos, BuenQamino
*activities are subject to change. For the most up-to-date park news and accessibility please click or tap here here.
Written by Christina Kantzavelos, BuenQamino
When you visit Yosemite, every view in the park feels like a wonder. Every minute you are surrounded by the sheer beauty and natural amazement everywhere you look; a rushing river, a waterfall, a glistening lake. You are confronted with breathtaking vistas, a seemingly never-ending redwood trees, giant granite cliffs that have seen the beginning of time, and more. We’ve come up with a list of the most spectacular places in the park.
1. El Capitan
Standing at 7,500 ft above sea level, El Capitan is arguably the most prominent geographic feature in the park, and the largest exposed piece of granite rock in the world. Plus it is also known as one of the iconic Apple desktop backdrops. Don’t forget your binoculars if you’d like to catch a glimpse of rock climbers scaling it. Aside from El Capitan being wonderous all on its own at any time of day, it’s also home to the once-a-year phenomenon of Horsetail Falls. The magic happens when the “stars align” and the mix of a seasonal waterfall, granite rock, cloudless day, and a sunset meet for a 10-minute jaw-dropping vision of…well, Google it.
Mariposa Grove is home of some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world, including the 1,800-year-old Grizzly Giant. Redwood trees are globally known for their soaring heights and wide girth and the cones are a symbol of the National Park Service. There are amazing hikes in the grove for all skill levels, including the Big Trees Loop, Grizzly Giant Loop, Guardians Loop Trail and Mariposa Grove Trail to Wawona Point.
3.The Mist Trail (Vernal Falls)
Vernal Falls is a 317 foot high waterfall that is one of the most popular hikes in the park, and for good reason. It almost always has water flowing, and there are two trail options to reach the top, including the John Muir Trail. There is often a rainbow to be seen next to Vernal Falls. Keep in mind, it’s not called the ‘mist trail’ for no reason. It gets misty, and slippery, so make sure to bring proper hiking shoes especially if you plan to continue on the trail to reach Nevada Falls, and eventually, Half Dome.
The Wawona tunnel is the longest tunnel in California, and it leads you to Tunnel View, which looks eastwards into Yosemite Valley giving you the perfect family snapshot of Half Dome, El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall (perhaps that should’ve been listed as #8?). Wawona is also home to Mariposa Grove, and is the birthplace of the idea for a national parks establishment.
5. Glacier Point
Sixteen miles of winding roads lead you to one of the of the prettiest viewpoints of the valley. Standing 3,000 ft above the valley floor, it’s a great place to watch the sunset fall over Yosemite valley or get a clear view of the milky way at night. Another reason why Glacier Point is amazing? It transforms into Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area in the winter with 10 ski runs, and tons of other winter activities! Keep in mind that Glacier Point is closed part of the year due to weather conditions, so check the Yosemite website before traveling.
6. Half Dome
Another prominent geographic feature in the valley and famous photo op. Many people hike this when seasonally appropriate though you can see it from other areas in Yosemite valley, including Glacier Point. To view it up close and personal, you must hike a strenuous 17-mile round trip trail can be done in one or two-days with a permit, offering you stunning panoramic views of the park at the top and proper bragging rights.
7. Tuolumne Meadows
Just when you thought Yosemite couldn’t get more picturesque, you come across Tuolumne Meadows, which is home to its own unique wonders. Weather permitting, you are able to see Cathedral Peak, Lembert Dome, Pothole Dome, Fairview Dome, Tuolumne River Bridge, Budd Creek and Tuolumne pools. Enjoy the blooming fields of wildflowers, gorgeous peaks, and peaceful Alpine landscape.
Looking for a cabin near these Scenic Wonders?
All of our 120 Redwoods In Yosemite cabins & vacation homes are located in historic Wawona, near the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park, just a few miles from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias (free direct shuttle access to the grove when you stay with us!). Relaxing and private, our fully equipped vacation homes border the wild and scenic South Fork of The Merced River, the Wawona swinging bridge and Chilnualna Falls (the second highest vertical drop waterfalls in Yosemite) and the pet friendly Wawona Meadow Loop trail! Our Event Center includes full use of the Fireside Room and adjacent deck, with audio & visual equipment and a catering kitchen. Many of our cabins are pet friendly, some feature spa tubs, and all have private decks with BBQ’s and upgraded linens for that, “Home Away from Home” experience. Come on up! Relax. Explore. Escape!
Yosemite with a Furry Friend
Story, text & photo credit Claire F. Meyler, yosemiteconservancy.org
When we visited Yosemite for my husband’s 30th birthday, we wanted to bring the whole family – and that meant our pup, Samurai. With a few rare exceptions (noted below), Dogs are only allowed on paved trails and developed areas, to ensure the safety of Yosemite’s wildlife. But don’t let that stop you from bringing your furry friend! Yosemite Valley is a lovely place to explore with a dog in tow.
We enjoyed a leisurely walk along the Valley Loop Trail, a paved path that includes boardwalks over fragile meadows and lovely views of many Yosemite icons: Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, El Capitan and other granite giants. The access path to Lower Yosemite Falls is also paved, with picnic areas and benches. For the rare unpaved treat, bring your leashed dog to the Wawona Meadow Loop, an easy 3.5 mile hike that begins at the Wawona Hotel. Visit in winter for beautiful snowy vistas, or come in spring for colorful wildflowers.
Other hidden dog-friendly paths include; Chowchilla Mountain Road; Wawona’s Four Mile and Eleven Mile Fire Roads; Carlon Road from the trailhead to Hodgdon Meadow; and on the Old Big Oak Flat Road from Hodgdon Meadow to Tuolumne Grove parking lot. For breathtaking views of the valley, drive to paved overlooks at Tunnel View or bring a picnic to Olmsted Point.
We chose to camp in the valley, but plenty of local hotels just outside Yosemite allow dogs for a small fee. Be sure to ask ahead when you make your reservations. Check out all the pet guidelines to make sure you have a safe and happy trip – and remember to store your dog food in the bear-safe food lockers!
Tips for the Trip
Make sure you pack enough water and snacks for yourself and your dog – you will both need extra water in the high elevation. Pack a 6-foot stationary leash, portable bowl, and enough waste bags to clean up after your pooch. To stay safe, never leave a dog unattended in a campsite or car. If you want to explore unpaved trails on your own, kennel services are offered in Yosemite, and at most pet-friendly hotels. Enjoy!