Yosemite Valley picture1 of 4
Yosemite Valley2 of 4
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

See all Hotels in Yosemite »

More Best Things To Do in Yosemite

Tunnel View Outlook1 of 6
Glacier Point2 of 6
Type
Time to Spend
#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.

Read more
f11photo/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Yosemite »

Explore More of Yosemite

Recommended

The 6 Best Sedona Jeep Tours

Take a rollicking ride through Sedona's natural beauty in a rugged SUV.

Holly JohnsonJuly 16, 2019

The 12 Top Florida Keys Beaches

Relax on the sandy shorelines from Key West to Key Largo.

Gwen PratesiJuly 15, 2019

The 15 Best New Orleans Walking Tours

Take on the Big Easy with a stroll through its streets.

Lyn MettlerJuly 15, 2019

The 8 Best Charleston Ghost Tours

Experience the Holy City's history and haunts on one of these excursions.

Holly JohnsonJuly 12, 2019

The 5 Best Oahu Helicopter Tours

Tour this picturesque island from the air on one of these excursions.

John RodwanJuly 11, 2019

The 15 Best Los Angeles Tours

Maximize your time in Los Angeles with the insider tips and historical context provided by the best local tours.

Kyle McCarthyJuly 3, 2019

The 15 Best Las Vegas Tours

See a different side of Sin City – its attractions go beyond gambling.

John RodwanJuly 2, 2019

The 10 Best San Diego Boat Tours

Explore this coastal city's sights with a relaxing boat excursion.

John RodwanJuly 1, 2019

The 15 Best Nashville Tours

Engage with the city's country roots on one of these tours.

Lyn MettlerJune 28, 2019

14 Top Finger Lakes Wineries to Visit

Head to upstate New York's winemaking region for scenery, history and lots of vino.

Kyle McCarthyJune 27, 2019