There’s no wrong way to visit Yosemite National Park. The revered park in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains is a symbol for America’s magnificent natural beauty. It’s filled with picturesque waterfalls, deep valleys, and wide-open grasslands just begging to be explored. At nearly 1,200 square miles, however, Yosemite has no shortage of famous landmarks. It takes a Herculean effort to conquer all of Yosemite’s terrain on a single trip. Instead, narrow down your itinerary by visiting some of Yosemite’s top attractions. Here are the top 10 things to do in Yosemite National Park.
If you’ve come to Yosemite looking for breathtaking views, look no further than Glacier Point. This viewpoint is located on the south wall of Yosemite Valley at an elevation of over 7,000 feet. The lookout points will give you a birds-eye-view of some of Yosemite’s most acclaimed landmarks. You’ll have panoramic views of the famed Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, and Yosemite Falls. The epic overlook can be enjoyed from an early morning sunrise through star-filled nights. Glacier Point is also a favorite among hikers and offers numerous trails for exploration.
Address: Glacier Point Rd, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389
Yosemite is home to many legendary waterfalls. Yosemite Falls, however, stands above the rest. This towering waterfall is the highest in the park and drops a total of over 2,400 feet. Yosemite Falls is actually a series of waterfalls made up of three distinct falls including Upper Yosemite Fall, the middle cascades, and Lower Yosemite Fall. The waterfalls can be enjoyed year-round but offer the best experience in the spring when the winter’s snowfall melts into the water stream. Serious adventurers can also reach the top of the falls through an exhaustive full-day hike.
Address: Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, CA
Tunnel View provides one of the most iconic views in all of Yosemite Valley. The famous overlook has been a go to among tourists since opening in 1933. Tunnel View’s scenic overlook includes expansive views of landmarks including Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Half Dome. The surrounding granite monoliths also serve as a reminder of the magnitude of this epic park. Tunnel View offers a glimpse into the beauty of Yosemite and is a hot spot for tourists year-round.
Address: Wawona Road, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Don’t be fooled by Half Dome’s name. Yes, Half Dome is a famous rock formation known for its dome like shape. But it’s also one of the most challenging hikes in America. The roughly 14-mile round-trip hike features an elevation gain of nearly 5,000-feet. Once thought to be inaccessible, thousands now complete the hike each year. It also features some of the best views of Yosemite Valley. Non-hikers will also enjoy taking in the iconic granite formation, which is located at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley.
Why is Sentinel Dome so famous? Thank esteemed photographer Ansel Adams. His celebrated 1940 photo captured the summit’s own Jeffery Pine tree. The tree fell over in 2003 but can still be spotted on a moderate two-mile hike. Sentinel Dome is a granite dome on the south wall of Yosemite Valley. It’s elevated at over 8,000-feet and is home to renowned panoramic views. You can witness some of the clearest views of Yosemite Valley, the Merced River, and Mt. Diablo at this renowned spot.
Address: Glacier Point Road, Yosemite National Park, CA
Take a trip through time at Mariposa Grove. This sequoia grove is home to 500 giant sequoias, the oldest of which are believed to be over 3,000 years old. A trip to the grove is sure to bring splendor and awe as you wander through some of the largest and oldest living things on earth. The most famous sequoia is the Grizzly Giant. It’s over 200-feet tall and one of the largest living giant sequoias in the world.
Address: Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
El Capitan has a fitting name. The 3,000-foot formation is one of the largest exposed pieces of granite in the world. It was named El Capitan, or Spanish for “The Captain”, in response to its Native American name translated to “The Chief.” It seems that, no matter the language, people respect El Capitan’s size. Located in Yosemite Valley, El Capitan is a favorite among experienced rock climbers. The striking granite monolith can be seen from a variety of vantage points and is one of the most beautiful, if not most impressive, viewpoints in all of Yosemite.
Breathtaking views, scenic hiking trails, natural wonders. Yes, Olmsted Point has it all. This famous vista is a pit stop located along Tioga Road. Though less traveled than many of its counterparts, Olmsted Point provides a unique perspective of Yosemite. To the west are views into Tenaya Canyon and its large, ancient boulders. To the east is Tenaya Lake and to the north is a distant view of Half Dome. You’ll be surrounded by some of nature’s best geology in all directions.
Address: Olmsted Point, Tioga Road, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Bridalveil Falls might not be the biggest waterfall in Yosemite. But it might be the most popular. This impressive waterfall sits at over 600 feet and attracts millions of tourists each year. Located near entry points to Yosemite Valley, this waterfall frequently gives guests their first look into the famed area of the park. Bridalveil Falls name derives from its constant layer of mist that can, at times, resemble a bridal veil. You can enjoy the cool mist of the falls from the base or take a meandering hike to the top of the fall’s peak. The refreshing water and beautiful backdrop make this waterfall a can’t miss.
Address: Bridalveil Falls , Yosemite National Park, CA
Tuolumne Meadows is one of the most photographed areas of Yosemite. One look into the meadow and it’s easy to see why. Tuolumne Meadows is a vast, grassy area located along the Tuolumne River. It’s filled with diverse landscape, carved domes, and large mountain peaks. It’s elevated at over 8,600 feet above sea level and is one of the largest meadows in the Sierra Nevada. You’ll find everything from forest hiking trails to lush grasslands and hidden waterfalls in this eastern Yosemite destination.
Address: East Highway 120, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389