Yosemite Activities You Must Do

at Yosemite National Park

By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

Yosemite National Park in Northern California is a very popular travel destination. It's no wonder the park is swarming with tourists from around the world during peak summer months soaking up the park's natural beauty from seeing the water falls, rafting down Merced River, bike riding on the bike paths and hiking trails overflowing with sightings of wildlife.

I have heard about the beauty of Yosemite for years and I've lived in California for two decades, but I recently took my first vacation to this national park. Why did I wait so long to drive five hours north of Los Angeles to take it all in is now a mystery to me.

Although the park is ginormous and you may find it overwhelming to navigate all there is to see and do, I've selected some Yosemite Valley activities you must do, in fact here are five must do activities when you visit Yosemite National Park.

1. Bike Riding

Yosemite biking is one of the easiest and fun activities to explore the park. If you have only one day to spend in Yosemite Valley, then you must rent a bike for the day and tour the entire Valley. Pick up a rental bike in Curry Village and it will be $28 well spent. We rode our bikes up to Mirror Lake, into Yosemite Village, and then down to the Lower Yosemite Falls (which included a nice hike). Be sure to obey all the biking rules of the road and be courteous to those walking on the bike paths.

2. Mule & Horseback Riding

To me, one of the best ways to experience Yosemite Valley is to take Yosemite mule and horseback rides. There are three stables within the Yosemite National Park, each ride offering unique scenery and a memorable experience. You have a choice of two-hour, four-hour and all day rides but a two-hour ride may be all you can handle if you're not used to riding and is recommended for beginners. The Yosemite Valley Stable is the one we originated our two-hour ride from and the trail takes you up to Mirror Lake and you view amazing scenery. I was assigned to ride a mule named Valerie who was a unique personality and a sweet spirit I now think of everyday. Horses and mules are used in this area and will cost $64.00 per person for a two-hour ride (recommended).

3. Rafting

You can rent a raft and float leisurely down the Merced River, but don't be too deceived. Be prepared to man the oars to stay out of trouble and winding up in the brush along the river. This three mile trip should last between one and two hours depending on whether you stop to swim or not. We actually did it in 45-minutes as it was late in the day and we thought it'd take longer than it did. It’s fun, relaxing, and the views from the river are forever etched in my memory. You will get a quick safety presentation and rafting education session before you carry your raft over to the Merced River. It costs $28.50 for adults and $20.50 for children and includes the raft, oars, life preservers and return transportation. Safety note: Even if you're a good swimmer, always wear a life preserver.

4. Hiking

Yosemite National Park provides one of the world's most phenomenal backdrops for hiking and exploration. Hiking is part of the fun when you visit the park. Even if you rent a bike, you must hike to certain areas as bikes aren't allowed on all the trails. Most hiking trails are very easy and do not require that you be in tip top shape plus many are even very handicap friendly. Best part? It's FREE to hike.

5. Open Tram Tour

Step inside the lobby of the Yosemite Lodge and you can book the open tram tour of Yosemite National Park for $23.00. The tour lasts around two hours and it's a great way to see Yosemite Valley and much better than the tour bus tours also offered as you're out in the open air. Don't forget your hat and your sun block.

Bonus: Yosemite Visitor Center

The Yosemite Visitor Center is done very well and should be included in your itinerary. I thought it would be boring but it is chock full of info on the geological and the historical aspects of Yosemite. I was surprised how much the kids loved it. It also has a model of the park showing the granite peaks and valleys.

These are top five Yosemite activities you must do in my opinion. If you are on a limited budget then do splurge on a bike for a day as it is the best way to navigate around the park and then of course, hiking is free. It will cost $20 per car for a pass to the park that's good for seven days, but you can economize by bringing food and packing picnic lunches everyday. There is a well stocked general store in Yosemite Village also to make it easy.

You know, your vacation can take over a year to save up for and only a second to ruin. Before you go, you may want to purchase travel insurance through Travel Guard. Starting at $30.

Have fun on your trip to Yosemite - it's now on my list of best vacation spots ever!

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