After our intimate April wedding in Sedona, Arizona, (read about it here!) my new husband, Dominick, and I set off on our adventurous honeymoon in Yosemite National Park!
Nestled in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, ancient sequoia trees, and the iconic granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome.
Over the span of a week, we drove from Phoenix, Arizona to northern California and had an unforgettable time. Did I mention we camped the whole time?? I told you we were up for an adventure!
From accommodations to sights, here’s a look at our Yosemite National Park honeymoon.
WHEN WE VISITED
In my opinion, we visited Yosemite National Park at the best time of year: Fall! During the last couple of days in September and into the first week of October, we enjoyed empty trails, crisp weather, and changing leaves. Though it was cold in our little tent, it wasn’t unmanageable with highs in the 70s and lows in the 30s.
GETTING TO THE PARK
As I mentioned, we live in Phoenix, Arizona! Passing through Los Angeles, our drive to Yosemite took just over 10 hours. On the way to the park, we booked a HipCamp site for the night and on the way home, we stayed at the cutest inn in Ojai, California. The drive didn’t need to be broken up but it was nice to see some other places on the way.
Camping In Yosemite National Park
When we told people we planned to spend our honeymoon in a tent, they were partially shocked… and partially expected it haha
I grew up camping and when Dom and I started dating, camping quickly became a shared hobby. From backpacking the Grand Canyon to lazy weekends in northern Arizona, we have always found solace in nature. So when it came to planning our adventurous (and budget-friendly) honeymoon, bringing our trusty REI Co-op tent was given.
Where We Stayed in Yosemite National Park
Night 1: Upper Pines Campsite for $26
Night 2: Curry Village for $192
Night 3: Curry Village for $192
Night 4: North Pines Campsite for $26
Please note that the prices can vary depending on the time of year! But overall, since we knew we wanted to sleep in the park, I found that this was far more budget-friendly than renting a hotel inside the park.
If you are interested in camping, here’s where you can book your accommodations. Depending on the time of year, sites book quickly! I booked our late-September reservations at least 4 months in advance.
I did a lot of research about the campsites in the park! We stayed in both the Upper Pines Campsite and the North Pines Campsite, and both were great! They are what you expect when you think campsite… they included a fire pit, a bear box (a necessity), a place to park, a place to pitch a tent, and a community restroom. We weren’t too close to our neighbors and the noise from other campers was minimal. After peeking at other campsites around the park, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them.
CURRY VILLAGE CANVAS TENTS
With the lows in the 30’s, we were ready to get out of our tent and into a heated one! For our 2nd and 3rd nights in the park, we rented a canvas tent in Curry Village (previously known as Half Dome Village). Simple in design, the canvas tents are wooden frames wrapped and covered in canvas. During the colder months, you can get one with a heater – which I highly recommend! The tents have electricity, which was extremely convenient for charging phones and cameras, a safe for valuables, surprisingly comfortable beds, a bear box, and clean communal showers.
What we did in Yosemite National Park
We had one plan for visiting: enjoy the scenery. And ohhh did we!
Yosemite is known as one of the most beautiful National Parks in the United States and for a good reason.
Home to an abundance of beautiful places and hiking spots, this natural wonder offers waterfalls, meadows, incredible rock formations, and breathtaking lakes. Simply put, everywhere you look there is beauty!
One of the best parts about the park is its shuttle system – free busses that take you around eastern Yosemite Valley. Thanks to the shuttle system, we didn’t have to drive at all while we were in the park (which means we didn’t have to fight for one of the few coveted parking spots).
Thanks to the shuttle system, we were able to quickly and easily get to all of the trails we wanted to hike. This was especially nice because Yosemite is huge, and after hiking all day all you want to do is have someone drive you around haha
Our Favorite Hikes In Yosemite
Now that I think of it, all we did was hike (and of course, rest from hiking lol).
Jacey’s favorite hike: I really loved the Mirror Lake Loop. At 4.2 miles, it was short and easy. The view at the top of the loop was one I will never forget. We went around sunset which made it extra spectacular!
Dominick’s favorite hike: Without even asking, I know that Dom’s favorite hike was Half Dome. In a spontaneous moment, we applied for a permit (required) and were allowed attempt the hike on our last day in the park.
Please believe me when I say this hike is NO JOKE! Covering over 17 miles, the trail from Yosemite Valley to the infamous Half Dome was extremely strenuous. The trail gains 4,800 feet of elevation (cue heavy breathing). It passes through multiple remarkable waterfalls before reaching the cables on the granite dome.
This hike took us ALL DAY! We woke early to start and didn’t get back to camp until sunset. While I hated the hike while it was happening (I will admit I cried), it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m so glad I did it with my new husband.
OUR FAVORITE SITES IN THE PARK
As I mentioned, every inch of this National Park is gorgeous! Even though we were there for four days, we didn’t get to see half of the places I wanted to.
Here’s a list of places I enjoyed seeing:
- Mirror Lake Loop
- Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls – this is the hike up to Half Dome that can be done without a permit
- Cooks’ meadow trail
- Merced River
- Lower Yosemite Falls – it was a little dry when we visited
- El Capitan
Here’s what I plan to see when we eventually visit again:
- Glacier Point – the road was closed when we visited
- Mariposa Grove
- Artist Point Trail
- Cathedral Lakes
Tips for Visiting Yosemite National Park
Okay so I’ll admit I know a camping trip isn’t everyone’s ideal honeymoon but if you love nature and adventure like us, we highly recommend it!
Since we didn’t leave the park and spent the week unplugged, our trip was very relaxing… even though our idea of relaxing is a 17-mile hike (haha). But seriously, spending our days exploring some of the most glorious natural sights known to man and our nights cozied up by the fire with a camp cup of whiskey and billions of shining stars overhead was magical.
Even if you’re not visiting Yosemite National Park for your honeymoon, you should add this park to your list!
Here are some tips I have for your visit:
- Bears live in Yosemite and have been known to wander into camps and cars looking for food. If you are staying in the park, make sure you have a lock for your bear box and never leave food in your car or tent. Trust me, you don’t want to wake up next to a bear!
- If you are staying in the park, book your accommodations well in advance! It’s a popular park and hotels and campsites fill up fast.
- If you like to bike, I would recommend bringing your bike! While the shuttles were a great way to get around, I would have loved to explore the Valley via bike. If you don’t want to bring your bike, the park launched this new bike share program!
- There are lots of places to eat in Yosemite Valley. While there are high-end options, after hiking all day we were desperate to eat (and didn’t want to have to shower to go to a fancy bar) so we opted for pizza and beer. But most of the time, we cooked in our campsite.
- And though it may seem obvious – bring your camera(s)! I’m so happy I prioritize bringing my camera on adventures – I love looking back on my amazing memories.
If there was something you would like me to go into more detail about (like my packing list), let me know in the comments below! Whether you are visiting for your honeymoon or not, I hope you have a wonderful time in Yosemite National Park!