Where are the Best Views in Yosemite Valley?
Arguably, you could spend a lifetime in Yosemite National Park and not see everything worth seeing. Whether on a high-end luxury tour, on a private bus tour or on their own, it seems everybody in the world comes to Yosemite Valley. But before making your travel plans or reserving your tour, make sure you or your private Yosemite tour company offers the possibility of stopping at the following memorable sites:
The first waterfalls you’ll see when arriving in the valley, Bridalveil gets its name because of the way the winds makes the water swing and sway as it falls to the valley floor.
An easy 5-minute hike from the parking lot, the site is typically crowded because it’s one of the first major landmarks once you enter the valley. This waterfall usually runs all year long.
Valley Loop Trail
Do you want to escape the crowds in Yosemite Valley? Is that even possible? It is when you hike on the Valley Loop Trail, which is basically a path which winds around the entire valley.
Most people take the easy way and drive, but if you’re up for it, you can take a short or long hike on the trail. It’s a great way to escape the crowds and see a few coyotes.
You get a postcard view from this spot, enabling you to capture almost every famous landmark in Yosemite Valley in one iconic photo. It’s a once-in-lifetime photo op, not to be missed.
The tallest waterfall in North America, Yosemite Falls flows the most in the springtime and is usually dry by late August or early September. Once the rain begins again in October, it starts flowing again.
This natural wonder consists of the upper and lower falls. The lower falls are easy to reach and wheelchair accessible. The upper falls, at 2,000+ feet in elevation change, are reserved for experienced hikers. Beware: It takes longer than you think to reach the top.
El Capitan Meadow
Smack-dab in the middle of Yosemite Valley, El Capital Meadow offers the best view of El Capitan—considered the most impressive wall on earth and the center of the rock-climbing universe—and the meadow is missed by many, many people.
This is the ideal place to look for rock climbers on the cliffs and the primo spot to relax with a pair of binoculars and watch the clouds go by.
Called the Mist Trail because of the water of Vernal Falls, a powerful waterfall in the springtime, this is the most popular trek for Valley hikers—showers of hikers at times, making the area super crowded.
In the summer, the waterfall diminishes, as does the mist. The site is beautiful but dangerous. It’s been the location of many deaths, caused by getting too close to the falls, the cliffs or the river.
Not technically in the Valley, Glacier Point offers the best view of the Valley, and it’s likely one of the best views in the world. You can see top of Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls, Yosemite Falls and Tenaya Canyon. And you can drive here if you are too lazy or too tired to walk.
Glacier Point is only accessible in the summer, and parking is limited in the afternoons.
Honorable Mention – Mirror Lake
Located at the base of Half Dome, this is a good area to stroll if you don’t want a hardcore hike. It’s only an honorable mention because of its deceitful name. Yes, it’s a mirror lake, but only for a few months in springtime. Otherwise it’s dry sand dunes, with no mirror to be seen.
Are there other memorable sights to see in Yosemite National Park? Most definitely. But you’ll need that lifetime to see them all.