1-Week Yosemite, Kings Canyon, & Sequoia Itinerary

1-Week Yosemite, Kings Canyon, & Sequoia Itinerary

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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. This 1 week itinerary will take you trough the Sierra Nevada Mountain range that gives Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks their spectacular views.

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. 

Stairs leading to the top of Mist Falls In Yosemite National Park

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: Bridal veil Falls and other 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.

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

Swinging Bridge View of Yosemite Falls and Mercer River In Yosemite National Park

Swinging Bridge View

The swinging bridge at Yosemite National Park provides an excellent view of the rushing waterfalls and rocky cliffs below. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful stroll across the bridge, taking in the natural beauty of the park all around them.

Stone Path on The Mirror Lake Trail In Yosemite National Park

Mirror Lake Trail

Mirror Lake Trail is a short, flat trail that leads to the namesake Mirror Lake. The trail passes through a forested area and offers great views views of the valley and the surrounding mountains, and the lake is a beautiful sight.

Three trees form a frame within a frame around the soft flowing water of Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite National Park

Bridal Veil Falls and creek

Bridal Veil Creek is one of the most beautiful features in Yosemite National Park. The creek cascades over a series of dramatic waterfalls, creating a lovely sight for visitors. The area is also popular for hiking, with trails leading to the best views of the falls.

Tunnel View, the iconic view of Upper Yosemite Falls

Tunnel View

Tunnel View is one of the most popular stops on the Yosemite Valley Tour. From here, visitors can see El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall. The view from this vantage point is so popular that it has been used in many advertisements and postcards for the park.

Landscape Photography of Glacier Point at Dusk

Glacier Point

Perched high above Yosemite Valley on the south rim of the park, Glacier Point offers visitors a stunning view of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Yosemite Valley. The drive to Glacier Point is spectacular, as visitors wind their way up the winding road that hugs the cliffs of Yosemite Valley.

Mist from lower Yosemite Falls on Vista Point Trail

Lower Yosemite Falls Vista Point

Lower Yosemite Falls Vista Point is a wonderful spot to take in the beauty of Lower Yosemite Falls. The viewpoint is located at the end of a short, wheelchair-accessible trail that provides lovely views of the waterfall and its surroundings.

Map created using Wanderlog, a trip planner app on iOS and Android

Day 4: Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

Panoramic View of Upper Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Valley
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 through Sierra National Forest 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.

Roaring River Falls waterfall rushing down the rocky river bed in Kings Canyon National Park

Roaring River Falls

Large Yucca Plant at Junction View Lookout point

Junction View Lookout point

Grizzly Falls - Kings Canyon National Park

Grizzly Falls

Sequoia National Park

Day 6: Giant Forest Trail and Moro Rock Hiking Trails

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

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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