Yosemite is one of the most inspiring places on earth. It’s a place that inspires artists and adventurers, and it’s also a place where Ansel Adams was inspired by its breathtaking landscapes. His black-and-white photographs of iconic Yosemite sites such as Half Dome are still famous today.
The Golden Age of Yosemite climbing began in the 1940s, when climbers arrived in droves to tackle the towering walls. They struggled with the sheer cliffs and pioneered an approach to climbing them. Today, Yosemite remains a Mecca for climbers.
The park’s majestic mountains and valleys have been captivating visitors for decades. The most famous and spectacular section of the park is Yosemite Valley, home to world-renowned attractions like Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls.
The park has two main access roads. Glacier Road provides access to Yosemite Valley, which offers stunning views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and the Merced River. Tioga Road runs east-west through the park, passing through stunning alpine scenery. Most tourists never venture off the main roads, but the park is full of other beautiful hiking trails that few people ever see.
Yosemite National Park is jam-packed with things to do. Hikers have a ton of opportunities, as well as those who like to bike, climb, or visit museums and galleries. Here are the top attractions in Yosemite.
1. Half Dome
A famous landmark in Yosemite National Park, Half Dome is one of the most well-known places in the world. You might think it’s just a big rock, but when you look at it from different angles, you’ll see that this mountain looks very different. From afar, you can see how huge it is. Climbers have always been drawn to Half Dome because of its sheer rock face.
Half Dome is a spectacular rock formation that looms over Yosemite Valley. The best place to view it is from the Glacier Point lookout. From there, you can easily see the dome shape of Half Dome and how much higher it stands than the surrounding mountains.
Mirror Lake is a popular trail for hikers. It offers close-up views of the rock face, because you look almost straight up it.
Half Dome is one of the most famous hiking spots in Yosemite National Park. Hikers climb steeply up the back side of the formation. This is not your everyday hike and it’s not for everyone. It is one of the most popular trails in Yosemite, but hikers should be sure they have a thorough understanding of what they’re getting into before attempting it.
2. El Capitan
El Capitan is a famous mountain in Yosemite National Park, California. It has a sheer rock face on the northern side of the valley, which is 3,000 feet (or 1,000 metres) tall. It is as high as the face of Half Dome, which is 1,450 feet (or 440 metres).
Alex Honnold is the first person to climb El Capitan, a famous rock formation in Yosemite National Park. He did it without ropes and completely unaided, and he did it in three hours and 56 minutes. Honnold gained fame by climbing it, but the real story is that he climbed it at all.
The El Capitan is the highest and most prominent mountain in the whole valley, towering over everything else. It rises above the rocky landscape like a giant monolith.
El Capitan is an icon of Yosemite Valley. You can see it as you drive through the valley, but a better view is from El Capitan Meadow on the North Drive. This road is one-way, so it’s best to stop and view the rock when you’re exiting the valley. At certain times of day, rangers offer talks about the rock.
If you’re really into this wall, you can get up close to it. To do so, park on the right side of this road, beyond the El Capitan picnic area. Then walk along the road until you get to the wall.
To get to the base of the wall, you have to find a trail. An easy trail leads to an open field, but you’ll easily spot it. Then you can find more trails through trees and boulders. Hikers often set up camp at this area because it’s not too hard to reach.
3. Tunnel View
Yosemite Valley’s most classic view is of El Capitan on the left, Bridalveil Fall on the right, and Half Dome in the distance. In this view, we also see the lush valley at the base of the huge granite walls.
The light in this scene is pretty amazing. But, you know, it’s not always the same. The walls are in shadow in the morning. The best time to see them is when they’re lit up by the sun in the afternoon.
You’re coming into Yosemite Valley from Wawona Road. You’ll see the parking area right after you pass through the tunnel. If you’re heading to Glacier Point, you’ll see Tunnel View just before you enter the tunnel.
4. Glacier Point
When you’re driving through Yosemite Valley, you’re probably looking up at the scenery. Glacier Point is 7,200 feet above sea level and gives an incredible view of the whole valley and beyond. It’s one of the most incredible views in Yosemite National Park and is an absolute must-see sight.
In the area of Yosemite National Park, about one hour from the Yosemite Valley, you can find the Glacier Point. There are many walks and other overlooks to discover in the area.
Four Mile Trail is a popular hike down from Glacier Point. It’s a steep grade, which means the trail is almost five miles long. A popular alternative to Four Mile Trail is Washburn Point, about the same distance from Glacier Point but with a gentler grade. Washburn Point offers incredible views of Vernal Fall.
You don’t have to imagine Yosemite without hiking trails. Hiking is a popular activity in the park, and visitors can choose from many different paths. Some of these paths are short and wheelchair accessible. Hikes through waterfalls and high overlooks are very popular, but you can also hike to alpine lakes and meadows.
If you are looking for something easier, the trails in Yosemite Valley are always heavily trafficked. However, if you are an experienced hiker and up for a challenge, try hiking on the less-traveled trails that require more elevation gain. Also, hiking along the Tioga Road is easier because it is only accessible in the summer.
If you’re up for a challenge, try hiking to Half Dome. It’s a long and difficult day hike, but it’s worth it for the amazing views. But if you’re not up for that, there are other easier hikes in Yosemite. Mirror Lakes is a great family hike with only 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The hike to Vernal Fall Footbridge is also easy and leads to a fantastic waterfall. From the footbridge on, you can continue on the Mist Trail for even
If you’re driving up to Yosemite in the summer, stop at these amazing scenic spots. And stop at the Sentinel Dome and Taft Point trails, which have an awesome sunset view.
If you want to go hiking but don’t have time to plan an adventure, or would like an expert to take you through the woods, you can sign up for a Yosemite Hiking Excursion. These trips are designed for all levels of hikers.
The rock climbing destination of Yosemite is one of the most famous places for climbers to hone their skills. It is known for its two most prominent walls, Half Dome and El Capitan. Both walls have been a popular destination for climbers for decades. Some of the most famous rock climbers in history, such as Royal Robbins, Warren Harding, Jim Bridwell, and Alex Honnold, have climbed these walls and made a name for themselves.
Camp 4 is a special place. In the 1950s, climbers started pitching their tents there. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in the sport of climbing. Today, this place is closely associated with climbing.
Alex Honnold’s free solo climb of El Capitan is the most popular climbing documentary ever, since it was released in June of 2017. The film has boosted the popularity of rock climbing in Yosemite, even more so than before.
7. Tioga Road
This summer, don’t forget to visit Tioga Road in Yosemite. Tioga Road runs east-west through the park, and is a stunning place for hiking and camping. The landscape is open and meadows are full of wildflowers. The lakes are pristine, reflecting the tall mountain peaks.
Do you want to go to Yosemite but the summer heat is a concern? If so, this is the road for you. It is open in the summer and closes later than Glacier Point Road. It offers stunning views of Tenaya Lake and the surrounding hiking trails. Near Tuolumne Meadows, you can hike up a dome called Lembert Dome and walk along its swooping top.
8. Yosemite Museum and Indian Village
You’re visiting Yosemite National Park. You think of its natural wonders, but there’s more to the region than that. Native people have lived in the Sierra Nevada mountains for more than 3,000 years. Yosemite Museum and Indian Village is a place where you can learn more about them. Stop by to see artifacts and ask docents questions about their history.
Walking behind the museum in Yosemite Village, you’ll find something fascinating: bark-covered, wooded houses. These were built by the Miwok people who used to live in the area, as well as white settlers. It’s a traditional style of home used by the Miwok people. The museum is free and conveniently located in Yosemite Village.
Yosemite is a great place for families to go biking. The park has several easy bike trails for beginners. These paths are paved, so you don’t have to worry about getting dirty or dangerous conditions.
The paved service road on the north side of the river is a popular biking area. It leads to Mirror Lake, which is accessible by walking the final short portion from the road. Many people walk on this stretch, but it is also easy to bike in to the start of the lake and walk to the upper section.
Another loop of the east side of Yosemite Valley runs near Curry Village, which is also called Half Dome Village. It also goes to the trailheads for Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, and the John Muir Trail. This road is for bikers and pedestrians only. You can rent a bike at Curry Village.
10. Ansel Adams Gallery
Although Ansel Adams is known for his Yosemite National Park photographs, he also photographed other locations. He took some powerful black and white photographs of Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, and Jeffrey Pine. These photographs are among Adams’ most well-known works.
If you are in Yosemite Village, be sure to stop by this small gallery for a quick look. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, you can be inspired to take your own photos as soon as you see all the artwork on display. They sell original pieces and reproductions of Ansel Adams’ photography, as well as posters, books, and more.
11. Yosemite Falls
One of the most memorable and striking features in Yosemite Valley is Yosemite Falls. The thundering falls can be seen from almost anywhere in the valley, and they look different at every angle. It’s impossible to take your eyes off Yosemite Falls, whether you’re driving down the road or hiking through the valley, because they are so powerful.
A waterfall in Yosemite is extraordinary. You can’t hike to it, but you can get a great view of it from a car. The most complete and exceptional view is from the left side of the river’s beginning of the hike. You can walk up to the base of the falls, feel the mist on your face, and smell the water.
One of the best views in the city is from the picnic site at the Swing Bridge.