“Happy Hallowsemite!” Our last-minute weekend trip to Yosemite in October

It had been a couple of months since our last weekend trip, and Mike and I had been itching to get out-of-town again. Based on a genius hunch, Mike checked to see if there might be some last-minute availability in Yosemite in October — specifically over Halloween weekend. Lo and behold, he was right! He snapped up the (seemingly) last-remaining room at the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, and the last-remaining dinner reservation at the Ahwahnee (now “The Majestic Yosemite Hotel”) and we were off on a weekend trip to Yosemite!

Here’s the thing, I grew up in Los Angeles, only four and a half hours away from Yosemite, and yet, I had NEVER BEEN. My high school boyfriend was obsessed with the place, and told me all about how much I would love it there. But it took 20 more years and a few more boyfriends to finally get me there!

Oh boy, it is EVERYTHING everyone said it would be…

Day One

Tunnel view

My bestie, Ken, told me that his family used to camp in Yosemite every year, and that every year his mom would tear up the moment she saw the first site of the park, at Tunnel View. I definitely teared up a bit myself…

My first view of Yosemite.

Lower Yosemite falls

The “the Falls” part of our hotel’s name refers to the fact that it’s right next to the Lower Yosemite Fall

The walk to Lower Yosemite Falls.

Which means in the morning we’d grab coffees and drink them while watching rainbows dancing in the water fall. We’d watch kids climbing rocks, and then finish our coffee and climb some rocks ourselves.

Inspiration Point

Our first hike of the first day was to “Inspiration Point.” We read that there was some amazing view that we couldn’t miss. But maybe we missed it, but it seemed like the trees block your view. Truly only go there if the crowds are out of control. Maybe Artist Point is better? We don’t know… But the good thing about Inspiration Point is that it’s an easy hike and easily accomplished when you have little time.

Bridal veil

Bridal Veil

We ignored all the warnings signs and climbed higher up some jagged rocks and found an amazing flat rock to lie on, take in the view and watch the falls from upside down. That was one of my favorite moments of the trip.

Breaking the rules.

Eat at the Mountain Room

Fall panzanella salad at #mountainroom #happyhallowsemite #foodporn #yosemite #kale #salad

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Looking back, our dinner at The Mountain Room at the Yosemite Lodge was one of our favorite meals of the trip. The Mountain Room is sneaky amazing. And if you can’t get a reservation at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, don’t be sad — The Mountain Room may not have the charm of that grand hotel, but we actually think it has better food!

Day two

Breakfast at Degnan’s

Grab an egg and cheese croissant at Degnan’s, and, if it’s cold, sit in front of fire. If not, their outdoor patio is lovely!

While you’re ordering breakfast, make sure to also grab a wrap or a sandwich that’s travel-friendly for you to enjoy on one of your outdoor adventures, later!

Panorama Trail

Now it’s time for the Panorama Trail — an 8+ mile hike through some super-gorgeous terrain! Bring hiking poles if possible. My knees started hurting anyway, but the pain would have been intolerable without these sticks.

Glacier Point

The view is just… oh my.

For most people, this is your starting point. But it could also be the epic end of your hike — depending on which direction you choose. Either way make sure to take some time and take in the perfect view of Half Dome…

It was hard to tear ourselves away from this spot.

Illilouette Falls

You can’t see the falls in its entirety from the trail, but what can be seen is spectacular. But, you know, that’s par for the course in Yosemite.

Navada Falls

This is a good place to stop and eat your pre-packed Degnan’s lunch. This then leads to the Mist Trail. Apparently Yosemite in October is a good time to avoid said mist. We saw no mist. Otherwise you’ll need a poncho.

Also, say hi to “Bobfat” the Bobcat…

Look how round he is!!!!

Vernal Falls

This spot is crowded even on a non-crowded time. You’re surrounded by your fellow hikers, all out of breath by now. We saw many people not prepared for the hike it takes to get there.

Hiked for 8.2 miles today. Super sore. Super tired. Super lucky. #happyhallowsemite #panoramatrail #upperfalls #yosemite

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Emerald pool

If you want some solitude, keep going a little further and you’ll find yourself at the Emerald Pool. We stopped and had a quiet relaxing moment. But watch out for squirrels. Mike closed his eyes for a second and got licked by one!

The Majestic Yosemite Hotel for dinner

I finally got to live one of my dreams and visit the Ahwahnee The Majestic Yosemite Hotel in Yosemite and have dinner in their epic dining room. Our reservation was for late in the evening (since it was the only one we could get last-minute) so Mike and I grabbed books and headed over to the hotel early so we could cuddle, drink wine, and read in front of one of their fireplace. We noted that they also had free wifi.

Once our table was ready, we walked inside of the immense dining hall, and I felt like I was entering a magical dinner at Hogwarts! We had delicious cocktails, and a white tablecloth dinner that ended with a boysenberry pie. And it truly did feel magical.

Day three

Once again, we grabbed our morning coffees and sipped them at the Lower Yosemite Falls, and made our plans for the day.

Breakfast at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel

Since we noted that the Majestic Yosemite Hotel had free wifi, we went over there to have brunch and then get some work done in the lobby. FYI: They have a great buffet, but no waffles after 11am! (And you know how I feel about waffles.)

Mirror Lake trail

This was a super easy journey. Although when we went there was no lake. But plenty of horse poop! Apparently the dry lake bed is now a horse trail?

Colombia rock

The view from Colombia rock

Having taken it easy for our morning journey, we decided to go hard and then go home. Colombia Rock is super-switchy and kind of exhausting. You might think about quitting. (I did several times.) But don’t! It’s so worth your aching knees to keep climbing. But be warned: The turn off is hard to see. So watch for it on the right. The view is amazing. Reportedly even more amazing than the top of that entire climb.

Me at the top of our most epic hike of the trip, having a “my life is awesome” moment.

Dinner at Mountain Room

Go back to the Mountain Room. Get the mud pie. You deserve it after the Columbia climb.

Day four

We woke up to rain. Which we didn’t see a drop of the entire time we were there. I’d bet that’s a pretty normal occurrence at Yosemite in October. But we got very lucky.

Anyone else have tips for visiting Yosemite — great places to stay, eat, or explore? We’d love to hear ’em in time for our next visit.

Megan Finley Horowitz

I’m a part-time writer, editor, and full-time eater from Los Angeles. I live with my husband/travel partner and our senior chihuahua and grumpy-ass cat.


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