I am very biased, but since I live in California it is one of the most incredible destinations on earth. My home state is brimming with incredible views—where cliffs meet the Pacific Ocean at towering forests of vast stretches of desert. From swanky cities to chill surf towns and everything in between. California is a dream come true.

For me a 10-day coast-to-coast road trip is one of the best ways to explore the state (and if you have more than 10 days, even better)! To make the most of it, first drive from San Diego to San Francisco. Then get over to Yosemite National Park.

You should allow at least a weekend to explore the expansive park grounds when you arrive. As one of the first national parks in the United States, this is one of California’s essential sites to visit.

This is a famous hiking destination. Thanks to John Muir, Father of the National Parks, this is an impressive network of parks that will take your breath away.

Fun fact: It wasn’t just John of the Mountains who loved Yosemite! This park was the ultimate hotspot for Victorian American travelers.

Now it’s time for you to go hiking in the backcountry of Yosemite! I have a guide for you!

Seasonal Tips

Generally speaking, the best time to visit Yosemite is either May or September. The weather is perfect everywhere in the park; it’s still not too crowded.

The park is stunning anytime of the year. Just make sure to plan ahead, as many areas of the park are only open during certain seasons.

The Tuolomne Meadows area is open in the spring to fall, while the Meadows Lodge/Grill area is open from July to September. You should also be careful entering from the Eastern Sierras, which are closed for half of the year.

The opening and closing dates for Yosemite and other parks in California can be different from year to year. Always verify the current status of Yosemite and other parks in advance, so you do not miss out on any of the attractions.

When you decide to go, bring layers and sunscreen. The temperature can change from warm during the day to freezing at night.

What You Need

Reservations are essential. In order to prevent overcrowding and ensure everyone gets an optimal experience, the park only allows a set number of people in each trailhead. Get your wilderness permit as soon as you can on the National Park website. And as soon as you can! If you are camping, you might need to book well ahead of Apply for your permit months (sometimes nearly a year) in advance.

While you are allowed to take light packages, be sure to bring everything you need. In addition to the basic items like a sleeping bag and tent, it’s helpful to have a solar charger headlamp, water filtration system, and cooking gear. Bring basics like wet wipes and coconut oil for comfort.

We free camped so we did not have to reserve a spot. We got our permit and rented bear-proof containers at the gate.

After my first camping trip, I learned a few things about what to bring for a camping trip. Here is a list of my top essentials: 1. Tent – A good tent will keep you dry and warm in the rain, but it must be strong enough to stand up to a hard rain without leaking. 2. Sleeping

You can reserve permits online or by phone. They are free, but it is required for any overnight backpacking. After the last permit has been issued for a trail, there is no more walk-up permits available for that trail.

Be careful there are only a set amount of permits available each day per trailhead. Day hikers do not need a permit as long as they plan ahead, and either way you should make sure to check for trailheads that require reservations before heading out.

Glen Aulin Trail

Yosemite Weekend Sample Itinerary

We stayed for two nights beside May Lake and Mt. Hoffmann. It was a glorious place! There are eight cabins dotting the shoreline that can accommodate a total of thirty-six guests.

Hiking from May Lake to Glen Aulin Trail will be breathtaking. You can plan your weekend hike from start to finish by following some of the map directions on this page. The hiking trail is open from March until November and is 22 miles long.

Keep in mind that mileage numbers do not tell you how far you can walk or run. Use terrain to help you estimate how much distance is possible. If the terrain is flat, look at the number of miles you can walk or run in a day. If the terrain is rough, look at the number of miles you could walk or run in

The trail guide will note the degree of difficulty of the trail. They will give a rating from easy, with a moderate difficulty to challenging, with a difficult rating. I would suggest challenging yourself but do not injure yourself.

I would then recommend venturing out from Glen Aulin to Tuolumne Meadows. I detailed my hike on a map and you can check it out if you are ready for a challenge! I was so proud to log in 31.8 miles and I would do it all over again! For an accurate perspective of the park and where you The map will show us the entire park.

The next day we tried to get to Glen Aulin. On the final day we hiked out to Tuolumne Meadows. He was pleased with his lab work, which is a great thing for a second grader. I told him that he did a good job and he said that my wife is very pretty and that she

At the end of the hike there’s a Tuolumne Meadows Grill where I cried out of total exhaustion and got myself an ice cream.

What  to Expect

You should expect to be completely worn out. We hiked nearly 32 miles over a single weekend. It was physically exhausting, but well worth it!

Since it is such a demanding journey, there is SO much to be gained. You have to take it one step at a time and push yourself to your limits.

Pack light. Focus on lightweight items that will enhance your journey. Things like a portable speaker and sleeping pad make the journey much better. Whiskey is also good for cold nights!

Be especially careful when drinking the water. There are tiny organisms called giardia lamblia in the water that can make you seriously sick. Before you drink the water, boil it for a full three minutes or use chemical disinfectant to kill them.

Know Before You Go


You will need to go during the opening hours of the wilderness center. The Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center and Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center are both open seven days per week from 8 am to 5 pm. You can get your permit maps and bear-proof canisters at either.

Bear-Proof Canisters

I talked about the bear canister a few times because they are essential. While it is okay to bring your own food into the park, you must store it in bear-proof canisters for safety.

A Note on Garbage

It is important to leave nothing behind in order to keep the park in pristine condition and share it with generations to come. Human waste should be dug a six-inch hole six feet deep into the ground, and it should be at least 100 feet away from any bodies of water or camping areas

Do not put toilet paper in the hole! All garbage needs to be packed up. You will want to bring a few different types of bags with you to ensure easy and clean transport. My Yosemite packing list gives some helpful tips.


It’s a tough hike, but it’s worth it. Be respectful and leave no trace so that future people can enjoy its beauty!