Eastern Yosemite: Exploring Glen Aulin

Eastern Yosemite: Exploring Glen Aulin

Amanda Roque and friends in the spray of Yosemite’s Waterwheel Fall.


The Eastern Sierra has it all; beautiful granite mountains, countless falls formed by the Tuolumne River and gorgeous alpine lakes that make for fun day-hike destinations. My favorite way to explore Yosemite is backpacking in Glen Aulin, where I can explore the beauty of the Eastern Sierra at my own pace, away from the tourist crowds.


The trailhead begins at Tuolumne Meadows and follows along sparkling Tuolumne River. Just before reaching the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, we pass gorgeous Tuolumne Fall. I usually use the second day of my trip to visit Waterwheel Fall, a unique waterfall where grooves in the earth throw the water up into the air before returning to rejoin the river. While it requires careful planning and preparation, backpacking in the Eastern Sierra is my favorite way to experience Yosemite, and something I look forward to every year.


Get Started: Tioga Road is only open seasonally, so plan your trip between late spring and early fall. Enter through Yosemite’s eastern entrance via Tioga Road.  Park your car along the road by the stables at Tuolumne Meadows. Many lots don’t allow for overnight parking, so look for signs.


Tips for the Trail: Take time to research trails in the area and map out destinations. Be sure to reserve your wilderness permit in advance. Once in the park, visit a permit station for tips on side-trips and trail conditions. Backpacking can provide many perks over traditional “car-camping.” I love the process of scouting out the best campsite, the opportunity to experience lesser-known landscapes, and the ability to disconnect from technology and reconnect to nature.


Let Yosemite Conservancy do the planning! Join the Glen Aulin backpack trip and we'll take care of the permits for you.