Yosemite National Park is a protected area in the western United States, located in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Here we have shared the top 19 best places to visit in Yosemite Valley.
Places To Visit in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park covers an area of over 1,100 square miles and is known for its stunning natural beauty, including granite cliffs, waterfalls, lakes, and forests.
There are various places to visit in Yosemite, some most famous landmark is Half Dome, a towering granite peak that attracts thousands of hikers and rock climbers every year. Other popular sites within the park include El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Mariposa Grove, which is home to some of the largest and oldest living trees in the world.
Yosemite is also home to a diverse array of plant and animal species, including black bears, coyotes, mountain lions, and over 400 species of birds.
The park is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and rock climbing, and attracts millions of visitors from around the world each year. There are plenty of beautiful places to visit in Yosemite that can make your trip memorable.
19 Best Places To Visit in Yosemite
Here are the 19 Best Places to Visit in Yosemite National Park.
Best Places To Visit in YosemiteHere is the list of highly-rated Tourist Attractions in Yosemite National Park.
|1. Glacier Point||11. Grizzly Giant|
|2. The Ahwahnee||12. Mount Lyell|
|3. Tunnel View||13. Lakes and Ponds|
|4. Half Dome||14. Canyon|
|5. El Capitan||15. Sugar Pine Railroad|
|6. Olmsted Point||16. Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve|
|7. Yosemite Valley Visitor Center||17. Yosemite Museum|
|8. Wawona Hotel||18. Yosemite Valley Chapel|
|9. Mariposa Grove||19. Yosemite Theater|
|10. Washburn Point|
1. Glacier Point
Glacier Point is a popular scenic overlook located in Yosemite National Park in California, United States. It is situated at an elevation of 7,214 feet (2,199 meters) and offers a panoramic view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and other surrounding peaks and landmarks.
To reach Glacier Point, visitors can take a winding mountain road that is open during the summer months, typically from late May or early June through October or November, depending on weather conditions. The road is closed during the winter due to heavy snowfall.
Top Rated Place on Google Maps in Yosemite Valley
Glacier Point is among those places to see in Yosemite where visitors can take in the stunning views and also explore several hiking trails that start from this location. It is the most popular place in Yosemite for hiking which is a 4-mile (6.4 km) round-trip trail to Sentinel Dome, which offers 360-degree views of the surrounding area. Other popular trails include the Panorama Trail, the Four Mile Trail, and the Pohono Trail.
Glacier Point is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Yosemite National Park. It offers breathtaking views of the park’s iconic landmarks and natural wonders and provides a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.
2. The Ahwahnee Hotel
The Ahwahnee is a historic hotel located in Yosemite Valley, within Yosemite National Park in California, United States. The hotel is situated on the floor of Yosemite Valley, surrounded by the park’s iconic granite cliffs, waterfalls, and towering trees.
Originally built in the 1920s, The Ahwahnee is considered one of the finest examples of the National Park Service’s rustic architecture. The hotel features a grand lobby with a soaring ceiling, massive stone fireplaces, and intricate woodwork, all of which create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
The hotel offers luxurious guest rooms and suites, which are decorated in a classic, yet elegant style. Each room features modern amenities, such as flat-screen televisions, high-speed internet access, and luxurious bedding.
The Ahwahnee is also home to several dining options, including the Ahwahnee Dining Room, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The dining room features floor-to-ceiling windows that offer stunning views of Yosemite Valley and serves a menu that highlights local and sustainable ingredients.
In addition to its luxurious accommodations and dining options, The Ahwahnee is also a popular venue for weddings, conferences, and other special events. Its location within Yosemite National Park makes it a unique and memorable destination for any occasion.
Overall, The Ahwahnee is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Yosemite National Park. Its rich history, stunning architecture, and breathtaking setting make it one of the most iconic and memorable lodgings in the park.
3. Tunnel View in Yosemite
Tunnel View is a scenic overlook located in Yosemite National Park in California, United States. It is situated on State Route 41, just before the entrance to Yosemite Valley, and offers a stunning view of the valley and its iconic landmarks.
The name “Tunnel View” comes from the Wawona Tunnel, which is a 1.3-mile (2.1 km) tunnel that visitors pass through on their way into Yosemite Valley. As visitors exit the tunnel, they are greeted with a breathtaking vista that includes El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Fall, and other notable peaks and landmarks.
Tunnel View is considered one of the most popular and photographed locations in Yosemite National Park. Visitors can park their cars in the nearby parking lot and walk to the overlook to take in the stunning views. The overlook is also wheelchair accessible.
In addition to its panoramic views, Tunnel View is also a popular spot for watching sunrise and sunset. Many visitors arrive early in the morning or in the late afternoon to catch the beautiful light and colors that illuminate the valley and its landmarks.
Overall, Tunnel View is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Yosemite National Park. It offers a breathtaking introduction to the park and its iconic landmarks and provides a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.
4. Half Dome
Half Dome is a granite dome located in Yosemite National Park in California, United States. It is one of the park’s most iconic and recognizable landmarks, towering over Yosemite Valley at an elevation of 8,842 feet (2,695 meters).
Half Dome’s distinctive shape is the result of glacial erosion, which carved away the granite rock over millions of years, leaving behind a sheer cliff face on one side and a gently sloping surface on the other. The dome’s summit is a popular destination for hikers and rock climbers, offering stunning views of Yosemite Valley and its surrounding peaks and landmarks.
To reach the summit of Half Dome, visitors must hike a strenuous 14-16 mile (22.5-25.8 km) round trip trail that includes a steep ascent up the dome’s granite face using a series of cables and metal posts for support. The hike requires a permit, which can be obtained through a lottery system or through a limited number of daily permits that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Also Read: 12 Best Things To Do in Yosemite
For visitors who are not interested in hiking to the summit, there are several other trails in the area that offer stunning views of Half Dome and the surrounding landscape. The Mist Trail and the John Muir Trail are two popular options, each offering different vantage points of the dome and its surroundings.
Overall, Half Dome is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Yosemite National Park. Its iconic shape and breathtaking views make it one of the park’s most popular landmarks, and a symbol of the park’s natural beauty and wonder. However, visitors should be aware of the hike’s strenuous nature and plan accordingly to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
5. El Capitan
El Capitan is one of the most iconic landmarks in Yosemite National Park. It is a granite monolith that rises over 3,000 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor. El Capitan is a popular destination for rock climbers and hikers, and it can be seen from many points throughout the park.
Here are some interesting facts about El Capitan:
- El Capitan is one of the largest exposed granite monoliths in the world.
- It was first climbed in 1958 by Warren Harding, Wayne Merry, and George Whitmore.
- The first “free climb” of El Capitan was accomplished by Lynn Hill in 1993. Free climbing involves using only one’s hands and feet to climb, without the use of any artificial aids.
- El Capitan is home to many species of birds, including peregrine falcons and bald eagles.
- The rock formation is made up of granodiorite, a type of granite that is known for its durability and resistance to erosion.
El Capitan is often illuminated during the annual Yosemite Facelift event, which is a volunteer cleanup effort in the park.
Whether you’re a rock climber looking for a challenge, or simply a visitor admiring the beauty of the park, El Capitan is a must-see destination in Yosemite National Park.
6. Olmsted Point
Olmsted Point is a scenic overlook located in Yosemite National Park in California, United States. The point is named after Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who played a significant role in the design and development of Yosemite National Park.
Olmsted Point is located along Tioga Road, which is the park’s main east-west route that runs through the high country of Yosemite. The point offers a stunning view of Tenaya Canyon, which is a glacial valley located to the east of the overlook. Visitors can see several notable landmarks from Olmsted Point, including Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and Tenaya Lake.
The point is also a popular starting point for several hiking trails, including the trail to North Dome and the trail to Yosemite Valley via the Snow Creek Trail. Both of these trails offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape and are popular with hikers and backpackers.
In addition to its scenic views and hiking opportunities, Olmsted Point is also a popular spot for rock climbing. The granite cliffs in the area offer a variety of climbing routes, ranging from easy to challenging and attract climbers from around the world.
Overall, Olmsted Point is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Yosemite National Park. Its stunning views, hiking opportunities, and rock climbing make it a popular destination for visitors of all ages and interests.
7. Yosemite Valley Visitor Center
The Yosemite Valley Visitor Center is the main visitor center for Yosemite National Park, located in Yosemite Valley in California, United States. The center provides information, exhibits, and educational programs to visitors about the park’s natural and cultural resources, recreational opportunities, and environmental issues.
The visitor center features a bookstore, where visitors can purchase guidebooks, maps, and other materials related to the park. It also has a theater that shows a variety of films about the park, including an introductory film that provides an overview of the park’s history, geology, and ecology.
The center has exhibits on the park’s natural history, including geology, wildlife, and ecology, as well as exhibits on the park’s cultural history, including the indigenous people who lived in the area before European settlement, and the early settlers and pioneers who played a role in shaping the park’s history.
Rangers and volunteers are available at the visitor center to answer questions, provide information, and offer advice on hiking, camping, and other activities in the park. The center also offers a variety of educational programs, including guided hikes, campfire talks, and children’s programs.
Overall, the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Yosemite National Park. Its exhibits, programs, and services provide visitors with an understanding and appreciation of the park’s natural and cultural resources and offer valuable information and resources to help visitors make the most of their visit to this iconic national park.
8. Wawona Hotel
The Wawona Hotel, also known as the Big Trees Lodge, is a historic hotel located in Yosemite National Park in California, United States. The hotel was built in 1879 and is one of the oldest mountain resort hotels in California. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Wawona Hotel is located in the southern part of Yosemite National Park, about 4 miles from the park’s south entrance. The hotel is situated in a grove of giant sequoia trees, some of which are over 2,000 years old.
The hotel features a variety of accommodations, including hotel rooms, cabins, and cottages. The rooms are furnished with period-style furniture and offer a rustic and cozy atmosphere. Some rooms have private balconies with views of the surrounding forest.
The hotel has a restaurant, the Wawona Dining Room, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The dining room features a menu of classic American dishes and offers a casual and relaxed dining experience.
The Wawona Hotel also has a variety of activities and amenities for guests, including an outdoor swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course, and a horseback riding stable. The hotel is also located near several popular hiking trails, including the Chilnualna Falls Trail and the Mariposa Grove Trail, which takes visitors to see the park’s giant sequoia trees.
Overall, the Wawona Hotel is a unique and historic destination for anyone exploring Yosemite National Park. Its rustic charm, historic character, and proximity to some of the park’s most iconic landmarks and features make it a popular choice for visitors of all ages and interests.
9. Mariposa Grove
Mariposa Grove is a sequoia grove located in the southern part of Yosemite National Park in California. It is one of the largest groves of giant sequoias in the park and is home to over 500 mature trees, including several that are over 2,000 years old. Here are some interesting facts about Mariposa Grove:
- The grove is named after Mariposa County, which was home to the original settlement of miners and loggers who discovered the grove in the mid-19th century.
- The largest tree in Mariposa Grove is called the Grizzly Giant, which is estimated to be over 1,800 years old and stands at a height of 209 feet.
The grove is home to several other notable trees, including the California Tunnel Tree, which was carved out in the 19th century to allow visitors to drive through it, and the Wawona Tunnel Tree, which fell during a storm in 1969.
- In addition to the giant sequoias, Mariposa Grove is also home to a variety of other plant and animal species, including black bears, mule deer, and several species of birds.
- The grove is a popular destination for visitors to Yosemite National Park and is accessible by hiking trails or a shuttle bus service.
Visitors to Mariposa Grove can enjoy a range of activities, including hiking, wildlife viewing, and educational programs about the history and ecology of the grove. It’s important to follow park guidelines to help preserve this unique natural area for future generations.
10. Washburn Point
Washburn Point is a scenic overlook located in Yosemite National Park, California, USA. It is situated at an elevation of 7,300 feet (2,225 meters) and offers stunning views of Yosemite Valley, including landmarks such as Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Glacier Point.
To reach Washburn Point, visitors can take the Glacier Point Road from Yosemite Valley, which is a winding mountain road that offers several other scenic viewpoints along the way. Washburn Point is located about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) from the Glacier Point parking area and can be accessed via a short hike from the road.
Washburn Point is named after H.B. Washburn, a surveyor, and explorer who played a key role in the early exploration and mapping of Yellowstone National Park. Despite the shared name, Washburn Point in Yosemite National Park is not affiliated with Yellowstone National Park.
11. Grizzly Giant
The Grizzly Giant is a giant sequoia tree located in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park in California, USA. It is one of the largest trees in the world and is estimated to be around 1,800 to 2,700 years old.
The Grizzly Giant measures 96 feet (29 meters) in circumference at the base and stands 209 feet (64 meters) tall. It is named for its rugged, bark-covered trunk, which is reminiscent of the fur of a grizzly bear. The tree is so massive that visitors can walk through a tunnel carved into its trunk in the late 1800s, although this practice is no longer allowed to protect the tree.
Also Read: 9 Facts About Giant Sequoias Tree
The Grizzly Giant is a popular tourist attraction and has been visited by many famous individuals over the years, including naturalist John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt.
12. Mount Lyell
Mount Lyell is the highest peak in Yosemite National Park, standing at 13,114 feet (3,997 meters) tall. It is located in the eastern part of the park and is part of the Cathedral Range, which includes several other notable peaks.
Mount Lyell is named after Charles Lyell, a Scottish geologist who was influential in the development of modern geology.
- The peak was first climbed in 1896 by John Muir and Edward T. Parsons.
- Mount Lyell is part of the Ritter Range, which is a subrange of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
- The Lyell Glacier, which is located on the mountain’s northern slopes, is the largest glacier in Yosemite National Park.
- The mountain is part of the Pacific Crest Trail, a long-distance hiking trail that runs from Mexico to Canada.
13. Lakes and Ponds in Yosemite
Yosemite National Park is home to many beautiful lakes and ponds that are popular destinations for visitors. These lakes and ponds provide opportunities for fishing, swimming, kayaking, and other water activities.
Here are some of the lakes and ponds in Yosemite:
- Tenaya Lake
- Mirror Lake
- Merced River
- Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
- May Lake
- Cathedral Lakes
Remember to follow park guidelines and obtain any necessary permits before engaging in any water activities in Yosemite National Park. Additionally, it’s important to practice Leave No Trace principles to help preserve these natural areas for future generations.
14. Canyon in Yosemite
Yosemite National Park is home to several canyons that offer breathtaking views and opportunities for outdoor recreation. Here are some of the canyons in Yosemite:
- Yosemite Valley
- Tuolumne Canyon
- Hetch Hetchy Valley
- Illilouette Canyon
- Yosemite Falls Canyon
Canyons in Yosemite provide opportunities for hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and sightseeing. Remember to follow park guidelines and obtain any necessary permits before engaging in any outdoor activities in Yosemite National Park. Additionally, it’s important to practice Leave No Trace principles to help preserve these natural areas for future generations.
15. Sugar Pine Railroad
The Sugar Pine Railroad was a historic narrow-gauge railroad that operated in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, USA. The railroad was built in the early 20th century to transport logs from the forests to the lumber mills, and it played a significant role in the local timber industry for many years.
The Sugar Pine Railroad operated on a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) stretch of track that ran from the town of Sugar Pine to the town of Mariposa Grove, which is the location of a famous grove of giant sequoia trees in Yosemite National Park. The railroad was built with a narrow gauge of 36 inches (91 centimeters), which allowed for greater maneuverability on the mountainous terrain.
Today, the Sugar Pine Railroad has been preserved as a historic site and tourist attraction. Visitors can take a ride on a vintage steam locomotive and experience the sights and sounds of the historic railroad. The train ride takes visitors through the Sierra National Forest and provides views of the scenic surroundings, including forests, streams, and wildlife. The trip also includes a stop at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad museum, where visitors can learn more about the history of the railroad and the logging industry in the region.
16. Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve is a protected area located in Mono County, California, USA. It is known for its unique geological formations called tufas, which are calcium carbonate spires that rise from the lake bed. The tufas were formed over thousands of years by the interaction of freshwater springs and the alkaline waters of Mono Lake.
The reserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including migratory birds such as ospreys, eagles, and grebes, as well as brine shrimp and alkali flies that thrive in the lake’s alkaline waters. The lake and surrounding land also have cultural significance to the local Kutzadika’a Paiute people, who have lived in the area for thousands of years.
Visitors to Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve can explore the reserve’s hiking trails and scenic overlooks, which offer stunning views of the lake and its unique tufa formations. The reserve also has a visitor center that provides information on the area’s geology, ecology, and cultural history.
In addition to its natural and cultural attractions, Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve is also a popular destination for outdoor recreation, such as kayaking, birdwatching, and fishing. The reserve is open year-round, but visitors should check for seasonal closures and restrictions before planning their trip.
17. Yosemite Museum
The Yosemite Museum is a small museum located in Yosemite National Park that houses exhibits on the park’s natural and cultural history.
Here are some things to know about the museum:
- The museum is located in Yosemite Village, near the park’s main visitor center and other park amenities.
- The museum’s exhibits focus on the park’s geology, wildlife, Native American history, and early European settlement.
- The museum houses a collection of artifacts and photographs that tell the story of the park’s history, including tools and clothing used by the park’s early residents.
The museum offers a variety of educational programs, including ranger-led tours, lectures, and workshops that provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the park’s history and ecology.
Admission to the museum is free, but donations are appreciated.
18. Yosemite Valley Chapel
The Yosemite Valley Chapel is a historic church located in Yosemite National Park. Here are some things to know about the chapel:
- The chapel was built in 1879 to serve the needs of the growing community of settlers and tourists in Yosemite Valley.
- The chapel is a small, rustic building made of local materials, including granite and cedar wood.
- The chapel has a simple interior with wooden pews, a small altar, and stained-glass windows.
- The chapel is open for worship services and weddings and is a popular venue for couples seeking a picturesque and historic setting for their wedding ceremony.
The chapel is also open to visitors who wish to explore its history and architecture.
19. Yosemite Theater
The Yosemite Theater is a small theater located in Yosemite National Park that offers a variety of educational and entertaining programs for visitors. Here are some things to know about the theater:
- The theater is located in Yosemite Village, near the park’s main visitor center and other park amenities.
- The theater offers a variety of programs, including documentary films, educational lectures, and live performances.
- The programs at the theater are designed to educate visitors about the park’s natural and cultural history and to inspire a deeper appreciation for the park’s beauty and importance.
The theater has comfortable seating and modern audiovisual equipment, providing visitors with a high-quality and immersive experience.
Admission to the theater varies depending on the program, but many programs are free or require only a small fee.
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Places to visit in Yosemite during Summer (April, May, June)
Yosemite National Park is a stunning destination with a wide range of activities to enjoy during the summer months.
Some of the top places to visit in Yosemite during the summer are Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove, Tuolumne Meadows, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Yosemite High Country, Tioga Pass, Tuolumne Meadows, Cathedral Lakes, and Merced River.
Places to visit in Yosemite in Winters (Nov, Dec, Jan)
Yosemite National Park is a magical destination in the winter season, with fewer crowds and snowy landscapes. Some of the best places to visit in Yosemite in winter are Snow-capped mountains, frozen waterfalls, and quiet trails. Snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on the valley floor, or take a guided tour of the area. Badger Pass Ski Area, Snow Creek hiking trail, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area.
These are just a few of the many places to visit in Yosemite in winter. Make sure to check for any park closures or restrictions before you go and to bring appropriate gear for the cold weather.
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