El Capitan from road pull-out
Liberty Cap and Nevada Falls from Glacier Point
Yosemite Valley from Tunnel Viewpoint
Views near Tioga Pass
Looking toward Ansel Adams Wilderness
Half Dome from Glacier Point
It would be difficult to sum up what to see in Yosemite National Park in one internet page but as always, I only hope to spark an interest to get you excited. You�ll need to do lots of homework for this one�or will you? Although there is so much to see and do in Yosemite, I think you could go into the park without a plan and leave thinking you had a great visit. That was the case when I was 10, my dad only stopped maybe once to take a picture of El Capitan. Years later, I revisited Yosemite with the intent to climb Half Dome (b the trail not the face). This did require thinking ahead and getting a backcountry camping permit. An extra day was planned as well to see the sights accessible by car. It was a very memorable trip but I could not help thinking while in Yosemite Village that a Yosemite Experience was being missed by not camping in a valley campground, sleeping in a lodge or biking the valleys trails in the evening.
Yosemite Valley is one of the most incredibly beautiful places on earth. The massive cliffs rise straight out of the flat valley bottoms. Rivers and meadows meander as huge waterfalls cascade down cliffs. All this is accessible year round from your vehicle. What I find fascinating about Yosemite is how so much development exists yet you dont really see it disturbing the essence of the valley. Yosemite attracts people from around the earth and people watching might be the most fascinating activity I found there. You get to hear the experienced outdoors man bragging about his 5 mile trek the next day as he is buying groceries at the overpriced market in his $300 dollar never used jacket.
Below are some other highlights I think are worth exploring on a vacation to Yosemite. Again, you can visit for a day if this might be your only chance to see it but try to see if you can make it into a small vacation, spending at least one night or more in the valley.
Yosemite National Park
www.WillhiteWeb.com: Hiking, Climbing and Travel
One of many pull-outs along Highway 20
Views near Tioga Pass, Dana Meadows
Driving along Highway 120
Also Check Out:
Glacier Point is an overlook of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the High Sierra. This is by far one of the best overlooks in North America. The road is open from May to November depending on snow. In winter, Glacier Point can be reached by skis from Badger Point.
Tunnel View is the most famous view of Yosemite Valley where you see El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls and Half Dome. This viewpoint is at the east end of the Wawona Tunnel along the Wawona Road (Highway 41) on your way to Glacier Point.
Driving or Biking the Valley
In Yosemite Valley, you can drive around seeing most of it, pulling your car over at every stop. A better option might be to bike it. There are over 12 miles of paved bike paths in Yosemite Valley. Bikes are available for rent as well. El Capitan Meadow provides a view straight up El Capitan (rising 3,000 feet, the largest monolith of granite in the world) and a great view of Cathedral Rocks on the other side of the valley. Other rock formations are the Three Brothers east of El Capitan and Sentinel Rock. Sentinel Bridge is famous for its views of Half Dome reflected in the Merced River, as well as a good view of Half Dome after a one mile paved trail taking you to Mirror Lake. Many locations give you good views ofYosemite Falls. Yosemite Lodge and Lower Yosemite Fall have a good view of Yosemite Falls.
Lower Yosemite Falls
This short and easy 1 mile trail to the Lower Falls starts at the Lower Yosemite Falls Trailhead, hikes up to base of the falls with good views of the upper falls. The waterfall dries up later in summer after the snow all melts above.
Upper Yosemite Falls
This is a bit harder, a 3.5 mile hike with 2,700 foot gain. Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America. This trail was built in 1873 and accesses the top of the falls.
This is an easy 0.5 mile hike from the Bridalveil Fall parking area to the base of the 620 foot falls. The trail is paved; open year round and the water falls all summer long.
Ribbon Falls, Illilouette Falls,Sentinel Falls
Three more falls to look out for if you like these kinds of things.
Yosemite and Curry Village
Maybe just to say you been there, a good place to people watch or pick up some ice cream. Marvel at the youth from L.A. that never been in the mountains before.
The valley isnt the only attraction at Yosemite National Park. In fact, the park is huge with more of the park outside of the valley than within. The easiest and most logical place to go next is driving Highway 120 to Tioga Pass. Some of this is in the Park, the rest is in the Sierra National Forest. This highway drives through spectacular terrain, the kind hikers spend hours of hiking to visit. From the comfort of your car, drive there but get out and walk around a bit. If short on time, there are still many turnout vista points.
Olmsted Point looks down on Yosemite Valley from the east. It is not as scenic as other overlooks but it gives you a better lay of the land and understanding of how Yosemite Valley came to be. Half Dome is very visible from this vista point but you may not recognize it at first.
Tuolumne Meadows is a large, open sub-alpine meadow with the Tuolumne River cutting through and surrounded by mountains and rock domes. Here you can find picnic areas and hiking trails everywhere. During the summer, there is a free local shuttle bus service for hikers. During the winter the road is closed but this is a big cross-country ski and snowshoe area.
Tioga Pass and Dana Meadows
Another area along Highway 120 that you could just get out of the car and start hiking, climbing or just take endless pictures. At the pass (9,641 feet) was the Tioga Pass Resort, a rustic place where we ate lunch. I immediately knew walking into the place that there was some real history here, my kind of outdoor history. The place has been around since 1914 catering to travelers of all types. This would be an excellent base camp for some fun scrambling or winter skiing in the nearby mountains.
Meadows and Granite
Hiking trail to Nevada Falls
Looking back at Half Dome in the far distance from the highway