Yosemite Valley picture
Yosemite Valley
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Photograph by Chanon Kanjanavasoontara/Getty Images

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
4.6scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 2.5Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Unless you are solely planning backcountry expeditions during your trip to Yosemite, chances are you'll end up in Yosemite Valley at one point or another. That's because Yosemite Valley features much of the park's top attractions, including Tunnel View Outlook and a handful of Yosemite's most famous waterfalls, including Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, Bridalveil Fall and Yosemite Falls, to name a few. One of the world's largest granite monoliths, El Capitan, is also located here. 

Yosemite Valley is an excellent place for first-time visitors to set up shop. In addition to housing many of the park's most popular points of interest, Yosemite Valley is home to Yosemite Village, where you'll find plenty of amenities and lodging options, including campsites and hotels as well as visitor centers, some dining options, including a grocery store, and a couple shops. There are also a handful of lookout points, picnic areas and light trails, perfect for those who aren't looking to do strenuous hiking in Yosemite.

Many of the trails in Yosemite Valley are short, flat and lead directly to top attractions. You'll find trailheads to El Capitan and Lower Yosemite Falls as well as the Valley View lookout point situated along Northside Drive. On Southside Drive, you'll find a couple short trails leading to Bridalveil Fall and the Sentinel Bridge, favored for its views of Half Dome. If you're seeking something more than a photo op or stroll, hike longer trails, such as Mirror Lake loop, a 5-mile roundtrip journey, or the Yosemite Valley Trail. The Yosemite Valley Trail is 7 miles for the half loop and 11 miles for the full loop, taking hikers through valley meadows and to El Capital and Lower Yosemite Falls.

Yosemite Valley is accessible via highways 120, 140 and 41. Yosemite Valley is also where you'll find the bulk of the park's free shuttle stops. The shuttle stops at campsites, places to eat, as well as trailheads, including the Mist Trail. There are no set hours or admission fees for Yosemite Valley, though businesses have their own hours. For more information on Yosemite Valley, visit Yosemite National Park's website

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More Best Things To Do in Yosemite

Tunnel View Outlook
Glacier Point
Type
Time to Spend
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#2 Tunnel View Outlook

Along with Glacier Point, Tunnel View is widely considered to be the most popular outlook in all of Yosemite. From its vantage point, travelers get an eyeful of the majestic Yosemite Valley, complete with views of famous park sites, such as Half Dome, El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall. What's more, the outlook is pretty easy to reach. You can find Tunnel View along Wawona Road, which serves as a gateway to Yosemite Valley's many attractions, accommodations and amenities. If you're staying in Yosemite Valley, chances are you will travel along or near Wawona Road.

Recent visitors agreed Tunnel View is a truly amazing sight to behold and shouldn't be missed. Some even suggested visiting Tunnel View first, as many said it's the perfect introduction to Yosemite's incredible landscape. Keep in mind that because the outlook is popular, there probably won't ever be a time where you won't be sharing the road with numerous other travelers, especially during the summer.

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