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Experience Yosemite, News and Announcements

Top Ten Places to Get the Shot!

April 26, 2016

Where do you get the best photos in Yosemite? We’ll tell you!

  1. Tunnel ViewTunnel View – Made famous by Ansel Adams it is one of the best places in the park to get El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridelveil Fall all in the same iconic shot. Look for it off Highway 41 a short drive by from the Valley Floor. This is a great year-round photography spot and is aruguably most beautiful in winter when snow caps the granite icons and Bridalveil Fall is flowing. You can also sign up for a Valley Floor Tour that will bring you here for a photo op.
  2. Glacier PointGlacier Point and Sentinel Dome – A 45 minute drive off Highway 41 will bring you to Glacier Point, with an iconic view of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and the high country. If you want to stretch your legs – look for the Sentinel Dome trail head off Glacier Point Road for a 2 mile roundtrip hike with similar views and fewer crowds. Alternately you can take the Glacier Point Tour and leave your car in the Valley.
  3. Cooks-MeadowsYosemite Falls and Half Dome – An icon throughout Yosemite, it is hard to miss the majestic Yosemite Falls on your adventures around the park. One of the most popular viewing locations is just after you enter the park along Southside Drive from either State Highways 140, 120, or 41, called Cook’s Meadow. Keep a look out to your left for turnouts that will bring you to a good viewing area. Cook’s Meadow will be very crowded in summer, please respect the park, do not park on any unauthorized areas and stay on paved pathways. If you miss the turnout or can’t find a spot, continue you on and turn left at the junction for Yosemite Valley locations. Just past Stoneman Bridge you will find another parking area and you can explore on foot to find the best views of both Yosemite Falls and Half Dome from this vantage area.
  4. Nevada FallsVernal and Nevada Fall, Liberty Cap – The Mist Trail is one of the most beautiful and rewarding trails in the park, offering up stunning views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, and the lovely Liberty Cap Dome.  To get the most out of these views, we recommend taking the John Muir Trail from Happy Isles. You won’t see as much going up, but you’ll encounter a splendid view of Nevada Falls and Liberty Cap which is ideal for photos. Head onward to Nevada and then head down the Mist Trail to capture shots of Vernal Fall all the way down. If you time to be coming down around noon you’ll capture lot’s a rainbows in the swirling mists of Vernal Fall.
  5. Tuolumne-GroveMerced and Tuolumne Groves of Giant Sequioas– Among the most massive and oldest living things on the planet, giant sequoias are definitely worth the detour from the valley. There are three notable giant sequoia groves in the park: Mariposa, Merced and Tuolumne. The largest and most renowned is the Mariposa Grove which is home to more than 300 species. However, the Mariposa Grove is currently closed for an exciting restoration project through spring 2017. The second largest is the Tuolumne Grove which is easily accessed just off State Highway 120 on Tioga Pass, just past Crane Flat. The smallest and quietest grove is the Merced Grove. All three groves offer beautiful specimens for photography.
  6. Lower-Yosemite-FallLower Yosemite Falls – The trail to Lower Yosemite Falls is an easy .5 miles of paved, wheelchair accessible trail. Lower Yosemite Falls is also a great place for lunar photography, capturing the famous Yosemite Moonbows. This is a very popular spot in the summertime, so try to visit in late winter/early spring to see the falls when you can have them all to yourself! Be careful to stay in the designated viewing areas and don’t be tempted to scramble on the rocks below the falls.
  7. Valley View_Gates of the ValleyThe Gates of the Valley or Valley View – This offers a similar but slightly different view from it’s more famous cousin, Tunnel View. Valley View offers views of El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls in the classic juxtaposition but Half Dome is not visible from this vantage point. However, instead of Half Dome, the lovely and serene Merced River graces the foreground between these two icons providing some beautiful texture to otherwise cold granite vistas. The view is particularly nice in fall when the grasses in the Merced River change color, in winter when the meadows are draped in snow, and early spring when Bridalveil Fall is at it’s peak.
  8. Olmsted PointOlmsted Point – Off the Tioga Pass Road and only accessible in summer and early fall, Olmsted Point offers a view into Tenaya Canyon and a unique look at the northern side of Half Dome.This is a perfect spot for sunset shots. This section of the park is only available May-late October, so plan accordingly if you want to see Olmsted Point.
  9. Tuolumne MeadowsTuolumne Meadows – One of the best vantage points for seeing Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite’s northeast region is Pothole Dome. You’ll see it rising to the left as you enter Tuolumne Meadows coming from Yosemite Valley. Park in this area and follow the trail to the base of Pothole Dome, then start walking up the gently sloping dome to the top. Tuolumne Meadows is displayed out in front of you and provides views of Unicorn Peak.
  10. Half-Dome-From-Mirror-LakHalf Dome from Mirror Lake – Particularly nice in the fall and spring, Mirror Lake offers a very different view of Half Dome from directly below. Rent a cruiser and bike to the last 1/4 mile of the trail, from here you can lock your bike up and head to the lake. It’s an easy hike as well and dog-friendly.

Once you get the shot be sure to share it: #yosemitenation on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.