Easily the most recognizable landmark in all of Yosemite, Half Dome is a granite dome formation at the eastern end of the Yosemite Valley. Half Dome is one of the most well-known rocks in Yosemite, perhaps even in the entire United States. Its sheer face gives it the appearance of being a large rock that’s been cut in half – hence the name Half Dome. Spectacular to see in person, Half Dome rises 4,737 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley at an elevation of 8,844 feet above sea level. Originally named “Tis-sa-ack,” an Ahwahnechee phrase for Cleft Rock, Half Dome has been the home to many famous ascents, including the first known ascent by George Anderson in 1875, who drilled holes into the smooth granite to scale the rock’s face. In the time since then, Half Dome has been climbed by countless people, including a few brave – and highly experienced – souls who have free soloed its face.
If you are looking for the best places to view Half Dome, you don’t have to go far. Half Dome towers above Yosemite Valley and can be easily seen from many vantage points around Yosemite National Park by car. A couple of popular vista points include Tunnel View and Glacier Point.
Feeling adventurous? Consider getting up close and personal with Half Dome. Hiking to the top of Half Dome is a very popular but extremely strenuous day hike and does require permits. Visit our Half Dome hiking page to learn more about the lottery for prospective climbers. Our top tip for getting the same views from the top of Half Dome without the hassle of permits? Trek up to Cloud’s Rest instead, as the name implies you’ll have a sky high view of the park and no permit is needed. The Panorama Trail – also a full-day hike – is another popular option for those looking for top Yosemite views, especially in spring.
And even when the snow starts falling in Yosemite Valley, you can still get spectacular views of Half Dome. Consider cross-country skiing on Glacier Point and stay the night at the Glacier Point Ski Hut. Or take a winter hike near Mirror Lake for stunning views of Half Dome in a winter wonderland setting.
In nearby Curry Village, you’ll find a family-friendly spot for camping or staying overnight just below Half Dome and Glacier Point. Featuring 60 private cabins (most with private baths), 403 canvas tent cabins, and 18 standard motel rooms, Curry Village is not to be missed.
Curry Village offers great dining options, too. Check out the hand-tossed pizza while soaking in the views of Glacier Point and Royal Arches on the deck. Or, when they weather cools down, come inside and visit the bar and grill for your favorite eats.
Ready to get a sneak peek at Half Dome? See a live view of Half Dome from just east of Yosemite Village in Ahwahnee Meadow on the Yosemite webcams here. As always, check out the road conditions before heading to Yosemite Mariposa County. Winter road closures can be effect well into summer in heavy snow years.