How I did it: We were in Yosemite from October 21-24. The weather was absolutely gorgeous while we were there - blue skies and temps in the mid-70s.
The weather brought more tourists than usual, and because we were driving from San Diego and couldn't arrive that early, we worried about finding a campsite. We decided to stay in Bass Lake, where we had a nice campsite and were conveniently close to Oakhurst, but thought it was a little far to drive in and out of the park each day.
I think I'm going to make individual entries for the hikes we did so I can put some pictures there, but here's the rundown:
- Shuttle Tour from Yosemite Lodge to Glacier Point; hike to Glacier Point; hike Four-Mile Trail down to the valley.
- Mono Meadows Hike
- Sentinal Dome Hike for sunset
- Mariposa Grove Hike
We were very happy with the whole experience!
Lessons & tips: Bass Lake is a good place to camp but a little too far from the Valley and a pain to drive back to each night. (Convenient to Oakhurst, though.) One nice thing is there aren't any bears there so you can be a little bit more casual about food, and can also have pets there if that's your thing.
There's gas available in Wawona, and there's also a nice little store where you can buy some groceries for lunch (and any items you forgot). Next to that, at the Wawona Hotel, they sell coffee in the golf shop. :)
The shuttle from the Yosemite Lodge to the top of Glacier Point seems pricey, but it was interesting to get the 1.5-hour tour (we learned a lot) and we appreciated only having to hike down! It looked to me like some of the people hiking up were unprepared for how strenuous it was.
The Mono Meadows hike is fantastic! But don't fall in the creek! And if you see a bear, don't freak out and scare it because they really are afraid of people and will run away quickly. If you do this hike, it's a wilderness parking lot, so be prepared to put your food in the bear lockers and make sure your car is not full of food crumbs.
Dress really, really warmly if you go up Sentinal Dome for sunset, and bring a headlamp just in case for the hike back down. In the picture, I'm actually huddled behind that rock because the wind is freezing!
Resources: 100 hikes in Yosemite National Park (Marc J. Soares) - really helpful book with a huge range of hikes