Minimalist Raglan: I wore this shirt every day for hiking, biking, and basically anything active. The long sleeves provided great sun protection while still keeping me very cool in the mid-80s weather thanks to lightweight Eudae. It’s also cut with flatlock raglan shoulder seams, so there was never any chafing from shoulder seams while I carried my day pack. I only wore this one shirt during the day for 5 days straight with copious back-sweat while hiking, biking, and skateboarding at the skatepark in Mammoth on the last day. The shirt was mostly odor-free until day 5 – pretty damn good!
All-Day Hemp Henley: This was my go-to shirt in the evenings after the day’s activities and while driving. It was super soft and breathable, yet felt substantial. I wore the Fungi colorway, which has a nice earthy look that’s perfect for camping and road-tripping. I like the long sleeves for sun protection purposes.
All-Around Shorts: I wore the newly updated All-Around Shorts every day while hiking and biking. I can definitely say that the updated front pockets are a big improvement – no feeling like the pockets’ contents needed to shift to the inner thigh. Even after scraping the shorts up while climbing on some rocks, they still look brand new. I jumped into the river after a hike with these shorts and they dried within minutes (I was at high altitude in a dry climate though).
Minimalist Boxer Briefs: Besides socks, this is the only item that I packed more than one of. The lightweight Eudae fabric was a savior for hiking and biking– very smooth, quick-drying, and cool for the boys :)
French Terry Joggers: I wore these in the evenings for lounging and even for sleeping one night on the eastern Sierra side of the park when the air temp dropped into the low 50s.
Minimalist Tee: My go-to sleep shirt. Lightweight Eudae absolutely cannot be beaten in softness and keeping you cool.
Normally, getting a camping reservation inside the park is like winning the lottery. Most folks reserve their camping spot many months in advance. Now, camping spots are even scarcer with only one campsite open inside the park (and only at 50% capacity).
Because of the pandemic, day-use entry at the park is probably the best you can do. But don’t fret because the number of people allowed in the park is greatly reduced compared to a normal summer day. That means less crowded trails, less traffic on the roads, and more wildlife sightings in the park – a great incentive to go now.
You’ll need to make a reservation for a day pass ahead of time via NPS. All of the restrictions are subject to change so make sure to keep checking back before you hit the road.
There are a number of campgrounds outside of the park within 20 minutes to 1-hour drive to one of the entrances. You can find paid camping right here
and some great free camping sites there
. I camped one night at a free site, Lumsden Bridge Campground
It’s a little way outside the El Portal entrance of the park, but the campsite is right along a river great for fishing, rafting, and floating in an inner tube. If you camp here, be prepared to get there with a car that has decent ground clearance as you’ll need to drive off-road
for about 5 miles.
It’s not a difficult road to drive, but it has some steep spots and a few ruts and rocks on the road that could pose a danger to your Toyota Prius. Any SUV or sports wagon would be more than adequate and 4-wheel drive is not required.
If you have a truck with a camper shell, van, or SUV equipped for sleeping, then the world is your oyster. I drove my Ford E series van equipped with a basic home-built mattress platform with lots of storage underneath the bed.
Nothing fancy, but with all but the front seats removed and a few inexpensive interior updates, (highly recommend making removable Reflectix window coverings for temperature control and privacy) it’s been my road trip warrior from northern Baja up through southern Oregon.
You can spend all day inside the park, and even cook dinner at one of the many awesome picnic areas. Exit the park after dinner and find a forestry road off the main highways where you can easily pull off and spend the night. Some spots even allow for tent camping, just no campfires. Just off highway 120, I found a nice spot on Harden Flat Road. I'd definitely check it out if you’re looking for a stealthy, yet beautiful spot to spend the night.
If you’re on the eastern side of the park, there are some great free and paid camping areas around the lakes just outside of the Tioga entrance and further out at June Lake and Grant Lake. The Eastern Sierra’s are absolutely magnificent and you could easily spend a few days exploring the area outside of the park if you aren’t able to get a day-pass.
Top 6 Favorite Yosemite To-Dos:
Taft Point: Drive there and then make the short hike for the famous birds-eye view of Yosemite Valley. Bring your binoculars to get up and close with numerous waterfalls and the famous rock face El Capitan free-soloed by Alex Honnold. Go there for sunrise or sunset for an added bonus.
Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls: Make the steep hike to the top of one of the most amazing waterfalls I’ve seen. It’s strenuous in the heat, but you’ll be rewarded with the view.
Float the Merced River: Bring an inner tube and leisurely float through Yosemite Valley, while you’re surrounded by 360 degrees of nature’s grandeur. Water is cold but feels great on a hot day in the valley.
Ansel Adams Gallery: Visit the little gallery near the visitor center in the heart of the valley. After doing some of the hikes, you’ll develop a new appreciation for how strenuous it must have been lugging heavy antique camera gear along some of these trails.
Tuolomne Meadows: Take a leisurely walk on the paths around this picturesque grassy meadow, laced with creeks and ponds. Definitely try to go at sunset when many birds, deer, and other creatures emerge.
Lake May: A fairly easy hike to a beautiful high altitude glacial lake, with views of Half Dome, Cathedral Peak, etc. along the way. Great place for a lunchtime picnic.
I highly recommend bringing your bike. You can park in the valley and then easily get around the valley to different hikes, sightseeing, and picnic spots without the hassle of trying to find parking. Plus you’ll absorb so much more of the beauty when you’re out of the car. There are paved bike paths and roads within the valley area and it’s mostly flat– fun for the whole family. You can rent bikes at the visitor center as well, but there’s nothing like having your own.