Sunrise from Turtleback Dome
Photo Credit: Theresa Ho
Threatened flowers, Yosemite Bitteroot
Smiling woman climbing boulders on Turtleback Dome
Sunrise from Turtleback Dome
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Turtleback Dome

Turtleback Dome

Glacier Point Road


If you’re looking for a short hike to a quiet spot with a view of Yosemite Valley, Turtleback Dome could be your place.

The hike starts 2.1 miles south of Tunnel View or 5.9 miles north of Glacier Point Road on Highway 41. Since this is more of a service road than an official hike there is space for just 2-4 cars depending on how the other vehicles park, but it is rarely full. Just be sure not to block access to the service road, including leaving space for maintenance crews to swing the gate open.

A 0.6-mile (1 km) mostly-paved service road is blocked from vehicle traffic with a gate, and leads up to an array of communication towers at the summit. Once past the communications towers, a short walk on trail takes you out onto slabs where you are treated to a view of Yosemite Valley similar to the one from Tunnel View, but from about 800 feet higher and another mile and a half away. There is some sensitive habitat here, so it is essential to stay on the beaten trails until you reach the granite slabs at the end.

Two things truly recommend this short hike:

  1. The limited parking reduces the number of people you will need to share the summit with.
  2. The Yosemite Lewisia (Lewisia disepala) is a rare and threatened flower that blooms just as the snow melts each year in the shallow gravelly pockets on Turtleback Dome (2nd photo). This shallow growing space makes them extra sensitive to disruption, so if you do decide to explore this quiet corner of the park, be extra careful to stay exclusively on the hard granite so that you don’t destroy their fragile habitat.