1-Week Yosemite, Kings Canyon, & Sequoia Itinerary

1-Week Yosemite, Kings Canyon, & Sequoia Itinerary

Upper Yosemite Falls

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All photos are original to the author unless otherwise noted. 

This blog post may contain affiliate links.  I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Click here for the disclosure statement.

All photos are original to the author unless otherwise noted.

One of the most prolific photographers of all time, Ansel Adams, inspired many to fall in love with nature with his beautiful black and white images of Yosemite National Park. Millions of people visit Yosemite each year, but many don’t realize that just a few hours south is another slice of paradise that should be included in your itinerary. 

Yosemite National Park

Day 1: Travel Day

The best combo of drive time and price was to fly in was the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport which is about 4 hour drive.  Closer airports are more costly and the additional layover time doesn’t save you much time. Plan on spending the first day of your trip traveling and getting settled in.

Day 2: Hike Mist Falls and John Muir Trail

Mist Falls? More like drenched falls, so come prepared to get wet! The Mist Falls trail is a moderate 1.5 mile out and back trail that ends at the base of Vernal Falls, if you are up for a challenge continue on the John Muir Trail to see the top Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. 

Mist Falls and the stairs leading to the top of the falls

Difficulty:

The base of Vernal Falls – Moderate

Top of Vernal Falls – Difficult

Nevada Falls Loop – Strenuous

Length:

Mist Falls Out And Back – 3 miles round trip

Vernal Falls Out and Back – 4 miles round trip

Nevada Falls Loop – 7.5 miles 

Please enjoy this short video featuring Mist Falls’ namesake attraction! This video was taken with a phone as my camera was packed safely in my Osprey Daylite Plus which kept my pride and joy bone dry.

Pro Tip: Don’t know how to tell if your gear is 100% waterproof? Create a seal around the material and your mouth and blow. If you can feel the air on your hand on the other side, it’s not 100% waterproof.

Day 3: Quick Hikes In Yosemite Valley

Each of these hikes are flat and a mile or less (except Mirror Lake which is a flat 3). I recommend utilizing Yosemite’s very efficient bus to drop you off near all the main points of interest, If you don’t manage to hit all of these lookout points, just add them the morning you leave for Kings Canyon. You won’t need all day at Kings Canyon, so that morning is a great buffer zone for fitting in the things you missed.

Mirror Lake | Swinging Bridge | Lower Yosemite Falls Vista Point | Bridal veil Falls | Glacier Point | Tunnel View

Photography Tip: To capture the soft, flowy waterfall look use a long shutter speed.

Day 4: Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

Upper Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls is a tiered waterfall; the bottom half of which you’ll see on the Lower Yosemite Falls Vista Point and is a much less strenuous way to see the iconic falls. If you’re looking to amp it up a bit, try the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. Though steep, you’ll be rewarded with views of Yosemite Valley and mist from the falls.

Difficulty:

Hard – Very Steep Incline

Length:

  • Columbia Rock: 2 miles round trip
  • Base of upper falls: 4 miles round trip
  • Top of the Falls: 7 miles round trip

King’s Canyon National Park

Day 5: General Grant Tree and the King’s Canyon Scenic Byway

The drive from Yosemite to Kings Canyon is about 2 hours and is equally as stunning as the parks themselves.  The byway begins at the General Grant Tree in Grant Grove and ends at the Copper Creek Trailhead; without stopping, the scenic byway takes about an hour each way. How long you stay at each of the 25+ lookout points is the real deciding factor in how long this highly underrated detour will take.

Sequoia National Park

Day 6: Giant Forest Trail and Moro Rock

Start on the Giant Forest Trail and meander your way to various points of interest in the area – Bear Hill Trail, Hanging Rock, Moro Rock, Auto Log, and Tunnel Log. The trails in the area converge several times so it’s not critical to stay on the same path.

Difficulty:

Moderate- There are steep inclines to access some of the view points, but there are also long periods of flat terrain.

Length:

This is a “choose your own adventure” kind of hike. It can range from 3-7 miles depending on how many points of interest you include.

Day 7: General Sherman Tree and Big Trees Trail

General Sherman Tree - Sequoia National Park

The famed giant sequoia, General Sherman, is the world’s largest tree by volume and it’s hard to imagine the magnitude of that until you see it yourself.

Photography Tip: Use a wide-angle lens to capture the giant sequoias.  

Difficulty: 
Moderate – The way down is easy, it’s getting back up that’s the problem.

Length: 
1 mile

Big Trees Trail is a leisurely stroll around a meadow with an abundance of wildlife. As someone that loves capturing photos of wildlife, I could have stayed there all day!

Difficulty: 
Easy – Completely flat

Length: 
1 mile

Author Bio

Author Bio Image

Delaney is a project manager by day and a travel and wildlife photographer by night who is using her skills for translating complex technical language into easy to understand concepts to make photography achievable at all skill levels. You have questions; she has answers.

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