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8 Best Yosemite Hikes and Lookouts for Epic Photos

Yosemite Hikes

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Yosemite hikes are some of the most epic hikes we’ve ever done. The views from so many of the trails are breathtaking, and there are so many lookouts where you can get incredible photos. Near Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County there is so much to see and do. You’ll want to keep reading to see which incredible hotels we stayed at with spas and restaurants immersed in nature.

Yosemite National Park is huge and it can be hard for travellers to decide which hikes they want to do and lookout points they want to see. Especially if you’re only there for a few days, you’ll want to get there with a plan so you don’t waste any time figuring out where you want to go. This guide will make sure you get the most out of your trip by sharing top-rated hikes and lookouts for those with beginner/intermediate hiking experience. But we’re not stopping there – we’ve also found the best accommodations, restaurants and nearby activities in Yosemite (Mariposa County) so your time on and off the trails is EPIC!

PSA – If you’re looking to visit other parts of California check out these posts: Ultimate California Road Trip Pacific Coast Highway Guide and 5 Unique Things to do in Sonoma: Ziplines, Treehouses, Wineries & More.

BEST YOSEMITE HIKES AND LOOKOUTS INSIDE YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Upper Yosemite Falls lookout point

Hike Upper Yosemite Falls to Columbus Rock. For jaw-dropping vantage points of the mountains try this expert hike. This stretch of the hike has a steep incline but will only take a few hours from top to bottom, and has amazing views of the valley. If you keep going an extra half mile past Columbus Rock you will see a beautiful view of Upper Yosemite Falls without having o climb to the top.

Lower Yosemite Falls lookout point

Try an easier hike at Lower Yosemite Falls. This hike has no steep incline but you’ll still see amazing views of the falls and mountains.

Cooks Meadow

Stroll along the boardwalks at Cooks Meadow. We love the views you get of the mountains, fields and river from these boardwalks.

Sentinel Bridge

Walk to Sentinel Bridge. Experience beautiful views of Half Dome, a quartz monzonite rock formation at the eastern end of the Yosemite Valley. You can get a wicked view from the Sentinel Bridge without having to hike!

Glacier Point at sunset

Drive to Glacier Point for sunset. One of the best viewpoints in all of Yosemite National Park! We recommend going at sunset to see the alpine glow on the Half Dome. There are also lots of hiking trails you can explore, or just hang out and enjoy the incredible view! 

Drive to Tunnel View. If you want a great spot for a photo op, drive to Tunnel View, a famous lookout. Find the parking lot just outside of the tunnel.

Hike from Mist Trail to Nevada Falls. Christine actually hiked this trail 10 years ago. It’s a more challenging hike that takes a full day from top to bottom. The views along the way and at the top are magnificent and definitely worth the hike.

THINGS TO DO IN MARIPOSA COUNTY AFTER THESE YOSEMITE HIKES

There’s so much to do nearby these amazing Yosemite hikes, so we put together a list of things to do in Mariposa County. We recommend staying for a few days to really immerse yourself in the area, try some incredible restaurants and explore nearby attractions.

Happy Goat

Visit Happy Goat. This is ecotourism at its finest. Happy Goat will take you on a  tour of their sustainable farm, let you cuddle and feed cute goats, and has an incredible outdoor private dining experience at sunset.

Balanced Rock Yoga

Balanced Rock Yoga. Stretch and unwind after a big hike with a private or group yoga class with Heather. We did the class at Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resorts on-site studio. Bonus: There’s a hot tub and sauna you can use after your yoga class!

Visit the town of Mariposa. A Gold Rush town that has maintained its charming aesthetic from when it was first established  in 1849. Mariposa is a beautiful town to visit while you’re here doing Yosemite hikes.

WHERE TO STAY NEAR POPULAR YOSEMITE HIKES

Tenaya at Yosemite

Tenaya at Yosemite. This is the closest resort just outside of Yosemite National Park. This resort has so many on-site amenities like the Ascent Spa, an outdoor pool, hot tub, and free s’mores for guests! We loved staying in their Riverside Explorer Cabins.

Autocamp Yosemite

Autocamp Yosemite. An upscale camping experience where you can stay in an Airstream with a gorgeous updated interior. Located about 50 minutes from Yosemite National Park, this is the perfect spot for those planning to explore Mariposa County.

WHERE TO EAT NEAR THESE EPIC YOSEMITE HIKES

June Bug Cafe. A cute and vegan-friendly restaurant inside Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort serving American comfort foods. Their focus is on nourishing the bodies of the active guests who visit Yosemite National Park.

Happy Goat

Happy Goat. A farm-to-table restaurant where you can have a unique outdoor private dining experience. You will get to hang out with goats, take a tour of the farm, learn about all the sustainable initiatives happening, and then end with an amazing outdoor private dinner at sunset.

Jackalope’s Bar and Grill. Located inside Tenaya at Yosemite, this restaurant gives cozy cabin vibes with fireplaces and an outdoor patio where you can roast s’mores after dinner.

Wawona Hotel Dining Room. A restaurant at one of Yosemite’s oldest hotels, the dining room has a Victorian elegance to it. They close for a few weeks in December, so check that they are open before you visit!

While Yosemite National Park is an incredible place on its own, we highly recommend enhancing your visit to include other incredible activities in Mariposa County.

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