Yosemite has long served as a source of inspiration for artists, climbers, and nature enthusiasts. Yosemite National Park is a breath taking destination with amazing rock formations.
Yosemite Valley is the park’s most famous and beautiful section, home to well-known tourist attractions such as Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. Glacier Road and Tioga Road provide seasonal access to other areas of the park outside the valley. Glacier Road provides access to breath taking views of Yosemite Valley. Tioga Road runs east-west through the park, through alpine scenery, and through hiking trails that are often less crowded. Tioga Road opens later in the spring than Glacier Road due to its elevation. Click here to know about how to reach Yosemite National Park.
There are activities available throughout the park, ranging from hiking, biking, and climbing to visiting museums and galleries. Yosemite is a destination that should be on the bucket list of every climber. We have listed the top destinations that you should not miss.
Yosemite Falls is one of the most memorable and striking features in Yosemite Valley, cascading over a granite wall and pounding the rocks at the valley’s base. The falls, which appear over treetops and around corners as you drive through the valley, look different from every angle, and it’s impossible to take your gaze away from them. You don’t have to hike or even get out of your car to enjoy this waterfall, but the best view of the falls is from the beginning of the Yosemite Falls hike, along the non-handicapped route on the left side of the river. With little effort, you can walk right to the base of the falls and feel the mist wash over you. Another fantastic viewpoint is from the picnic area at the Swing Bridge.
Half Dome is one of Yosemite’s most famous landmarks, and it is especially well-known in the climbing world as one of the first “big climbs.” This granite icon appears to change depending on the angle from which it is viewed. Looking up from the valley, the sheer rock face’s enormity is obvious, and you can see why climbers have been drawn here. Half Dome can be seen in the distance from Tunnel View, but the best place to see it is from the Glacier Point lookout. From here, you can see how the rock looms over the valley and how much higher it is than the surrounding mountains. The dome shape is visible, and it’s easy to see why it’s called Half Dome. Mirror Lake hike is the best option for close-up views. You can see almost straight up the rock face from this trail.
Tunnel View is one of the best spots in the park for a view of the park’s most popular area. You can see El Capitan on the left, Bridalveil Fall on the right, Half Dome in the distance, and a beautiful valley in the background. Visit in the afternoon for the best views. Tunnel View is a popular attraction in the park, so expect a crowd all of the time.
El Capitan is a 3,000-foot mountain located on the north side of Yosemite Valley. El Capitan is a sheer rock granite cliff 1,000 feet higher than Half Dome’s face. Climbers consider it to be one of their favorite destinations. Views of the majestic El Capitan can be seen as you drive through the valley. It has an incredible view of a vertical rock formation. El Capitan is a well-known and popular landmark in the park. The wall can be seen as you drive through the valley, but many people stop to view or photograph it from El Capitan Meadow, which is located off the North Drive through Yosemite Valley. Because this is a one-way road, you should see it on your way out of the valley. Rangers set up in the meadow at various times of the day to give talks about El Capitan. You can park on the right side of this same road, beyond the El Capitan picnic area, and walk up to the wall if you want to get up close and even touch it.
Bridalveil Fall, located on the south side of Yosemite Valley, is another iconic sight in Yosemite National Park. This is a simple waterfall to reach on foot, with a short trail leading directly to the base. You can feel the spray and hear the pounding water as it crashes against the boulders from here. Tunnel View provides a good view of the falls from a higher vantage point.
A trip through Yosemite Valley usually involves looking up to see the sights. Glacier Point, at an elevation of over 7,200 feet, offers a panoramic view of the entire valley as well as many other sites beyond, giving you a whole new perspective. This is one of the most breathtaking views in Yosemite National Park and an absolute must-see. The drive from Yosemite Village to Glacier Point takes about an hour, but there are also hikes and other lookouts worth exploring in the area. The Four Mile Trail descends 3,200 feet from Glacier Point to Yosemite Valley, ending near Sentinel Rock. Despite its name, the trail is nearly five miles long. It’s also a steep grade that’s in pretty bad shape. Washburn Point, not far from Glacier Point, is another spectacular lookout with incredible views of Vernal Fall.
Yosemite Museum and Indian Village
While most people associate Yosemite with its natural wonders, the Sierra Nevada region in and around Yosemite has been inhabited for over 3,000 years. At the Yosemite Museum and Indian Village, you can learn all about the valley’s first inhabitants. Docents are on hand to give demonstrations and answer questions at the museum, which displays artifacts. Behind the building are some bark-covered dwellings constructed in the traditional style of the Miwok people who once lived in the area, as well as their later Euro-American-style structures. The museum is free and easily accessible from Yosemite Village.
Ansel Adams Gallery
Although Ansel Adams’ photography extended far beyond Yosemite, his name and work are inextricably linked to the park, where he created many iconic images. Some of his most well-known black and white images are of Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, and Jeffrey Pine. If you are in Yosemite Village, this small gallery is worth a look. Even if you do not intend to purchase a work of art, you may be inspired to create your own after viewing some of the artwork on display in this store. The shop sells original Ansel Adams photographs, reproductions, posters, books, and other items.
Vernal Fall’s sheer ledge of rock, hemmed in by towering pines, makes for a dramatic photograph. The water cascades over the edge all year, plummeting 317 feet to a roaring finish on a ledge of granite boulders. Vernal, unlike other popular falls in the park, cannot be seen from the valley floor by car. To experience the mist on your face, locate the Vernal Fall trailhead near the Happy Isles Nature Center and follow it to the Vernal Fall footbridge, then to the top. In the winter, when the trail may be wet or icy, use extra caution.
Nevada Fall is a massive, curved granite water slide that measures 594 feet from top to bottom and attracts the entire Merced River. It is one of the most beautiful Yosemite waterfalls, with its soaring mists at the western end of Little Yosemite Valley.
Glacier Point provides a distant view of Nevada Fall. But if you really want to appreciate the grandeur of Nevada Fall, climb to the top! The Mist Trail from Vernal Fall is a fairly steep climb, but the views are well worth it.
This panoramic vista provides a breathtaking perspective of Yosemite Valley from the north and is a great spot for some selfies as you wander around erratic boulders left by retreating glaciers at the end of the last ice age. Traveling to Olmstead Point will take you to a 48-mile stretch of Highway 120 that runs between Big Oak Flat Road and Tioga Pass, passing through forests, meadows, lakes, and granite domes. This high-country road is usually open from late May to October.
Horsetail Fall is smaller than most other Yosemite falls, but it is well-known for pouring water down El Capitan’s eastern face. In mid- to late-February, when the setting sun pierces the mist with reddish rays, the fall is a popular photography location and these Yosemite waterfalls appear to be on fire! You can see the Horsetail Fall from the road if you park at the El Capitan picnic area.
The breathtaking alpine scenery along Tioga Road, Highway 120, which runs east-west through Yosemite, is a fantastic place for summer hiking and camping. In the open meadows, wildflowers bloom, and pristine lakes reflect the mountain peaks. This road is only open in the summer due to its elevation, and it opens later than Glacier Point Road. Tioga Pass, at an elevation of 9,945 feet, is located at the park’s east entrance. The views from Olmsted Point, Tenaya Lake, and the surrounding hiking trails are among the highlights along this route. Hike to Lembert Dome near Tuolumne Meadows and climb the dome’s swooping back side.
The 370-foot Yosemite Falls move all year, but the peak is in late May. The top of Illilouette Fall can be seen from Washburn Point on Glacier Point Road. To see Illilouette Fall throughout all her glory, hike the Panorama Trail a few miles from Glacier Point toward Vernal Fall. The fall is located just below Glacier Point in Illilouette Creek Canyon.
Travelers can get a good view from the Cathedral Picnic Area, but hiking to the top of Eagle Peak, on the Valley Floor Loop, or on the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail provides the best perspective.
The three peaks, Eagle Peak, and the Lower Brothers, rival El Capitan and form a well-known Yosemite sight. The view from the top of Eagle Peak was considered by John Muir to be the most beautiful in Yosemite Valley.
Tuolumne Meadows, one of the Sierra Nevada’s largest high-elevation meadows, has drawn early pioneers, modern-day park visitors, and scientists. The Tuolumne River meanders through its grassy channel before cascading over a granite river bottom.
There are restrooms, a small gift shop, and a staffed information centre at the visitors centre. Hiking, rock climbing, backpacking, and fishing are all popular activities in the area. An easy hike from the centre leads to the spot where John Muir and Robert Underwood Johnson conceived the idea for Yosemite National Park.
Badger Pass Ski Area
In the winter, there are groomed cross-country ski trails, chairlifts for downhill skiing, a wicked terrain park for snowboarders to test their limits, and a tubing area where the whole family can enjoy thrills together. Conditions permitting, the Badger Pass Ski Area is open from mid-December to mid-March. Visit the Badger Ski Pass website to check snow conditions, rent equipment, find the shuttle schedule, purchase season passes, and receive discounted ski and lodging packages.
Mariposa Grove of Gaint Sequias
Over 500 mature giant sequoias can be found in this Giant Redwoods stand an hour from Yosemite Valley. The Fallen Monarch, made famous in an 1899 photograph with US Cavalry officers, is one of the most popular trees in the grove. The Bachelor, Three Graces, and the 2700-year-old Grizzly Giant are also must-see trees. Within the grove, there are a number of easy to moderate trails. The Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza is served by YARTS, which provides dependable public transportation. If you are driving your own car in the winter, check local road conditions because Highway 140 may be closed due to snow.
Tenaya Lake is a stunning high Sierra lake surrounded by granite domes, lodgepole forests, and miles of wilderness. Tenaya Lake’s shores are popular for kayaking, boating, swimming, and even sunbathing. The panorama of Sierra Nevada peaks over Tenaya Lake’s waters is a classic shot. Tenaya Lake is located in the northern regions of Yosemite Park, accessible via Highway 120 as it winds east toward Tioga Pass.
You’ll be right along the banks of the Merced River at Valley View, with a view framed by El Capitan, which reaches 3,000 feet into the sky, and the imposing spires of Cathedral Rocks opposite it.
This lovely spot can be found as you leave Yosemite Valley near the South Entrance. Right before the Pohono Bridge, look for a roadside lookout point on the one-way Northside Drive.
Sentinel Falls is located just west of Sentinel Rock on the south side of Yosemite Valley. Sentinel Falls is actually a series of cascades ranging in height from 50 to 500 feet, totaling a 2,000-foot drop!
Sentinel Fall is best seen in early spring from Southside Drive and the Four Mile trailhead. Do you prefer a panoramic view? The Upper Yosemite Fall Trail provides another viewpoint.
Cathedral Peak, a granite pinnacle gain recognition from the Cathedral Range, is a Sierra offshoot near Tuolumne Meadows. From any angle, this glacier-carved peak is breath taking. And it’s a popular climbing destination (John Muir climbed it in 1869).
A true Yosemite hidden gem! Chilnualna Falls cascades over 2,200 feet, but the waterfall is divided into five tiers that wind through the rock-carved valley. To walk to Chilnualna Falls, begin at the trailhead at the end of Chilnualna Falls Road. The first section is simple and provides excellent views of the fall’s first tier. Hikers with prior experience can continue all the way to the summit. Take care: this trail is steep and difficult.
This sensitive and underrated fall is one of our favourite Yosemite sights. Ribbon Fall is the longest single-drop waterfall in North America and is only visible from El Capitan’s western side. This breathtaking 1,621-foot waterfall is best visited in April or May. The best views of Ribbon Fall are from the road leading into Yosemite Valley, just past the turn for Bridalveil Fall. Parking is available at the roadside turnout.
Wapama Falls is one of Yosemite’s most impressive waterfalls, but it is often overlooked due to its location in the Hetch Hetchy Valley reservoir. Water falls over 1,000 feet during spring snow melt and spills across the trail at its base. The parking lot at O’Shaugyosemitehnessy Dam is the best place to see Wapama Falls.