Everyone should experience Yosemite National Park at least once in their lifetime. Even as you’re driving into the valley you can get impressive views from the road. The landscapes, granite cliffs and dramatic waterfalls (including many of the tallest cascades in California) – have world-class beauty that is unsurpassed. But don’t just stop by to see the big hitters like Yosemite Falls – make sure to check out all ten of these amazing viewpoints.
1. Tunnel View
Yosemite’s most famous viewpoint, Tunnel View, gives you a perfect vista of El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall and Half Dome. It’s located by the east end of the Wawona Tunnel, along Wawona Road (Highway 41).
2. Valley View
Valley View is a must-see on your way out of the park. From here you can get a wide open view of Yosemite Valley from the Merced River. The viewpoint can be found on the one-way Northside Drive, after Bridalveil Fall and before Pohono Bridge.
3. Glacier Point
The views from Glacier Point are what dreams are made of. You don’t only see the high country but also Yosemite Valley and three stunning waterfalls from afar. The road up to Glacier Point isn’t open for the season yet, but it will be around late May and usually stays open through November.
4. Cook’s Meadow Loop
Cook’s Meadow Loop is an enchanting walk through open meadows. The path follows a wooden boardwalk for just over 2 miles round-trip, with views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock and the Royal Arches. The loop’s open for visitors year-round, but we recommend visiting in the spring and summer when the meadows are green and wildflowers are blooming.
5. Lower Yosemite Falls
6. Olmsted Point
Olmsted Point gives visitors a unique perspective of Yosemite. The viewpoint, located along the seasonal Tioga Road, looks down across the valley from the east. Half Dome is one of the most dominant peaks you can see from here, but you may not even recognize it at first because of the different angle.
7. O’Shaugnessy Dam
O’Shaugnessy Dam isn’t well-known but the views from here are nothing short of amazing. You can see the valley’s rock formations, reservoir and beautiful waterfalls in the distance. It’s located by the west end of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, via the Hetch Hetchy Road, which is open all year except after major snowstorms.
8. Pothole Dome
Pothole Dome also provides postcard-worthy views from Tioga Road. It’s located on the west end of Tuolumne Meadows, but if you’re looking to explore more, Lembert Dome is also worth a visit on the eastern end.
9. El Capitan Meadow
Looking up from El Capitan Meadow is mind-blowing. You get a front-row view of El Capitan, a massive rock formation standing 3,000+ feet tall over Yosemite Valley – and you can see Cathedral Rocks from here as well. The area’s located on the one-way Northside Drive (like Valley View), so it’s best to stop by on your way out of the park.
10. Sentinel Bridge
Sentinel Bridge is another highlight of the Cook’s Meadow Loop. Photographers especially love this part of the hike for its views of Half Dome and its reflection in the Merced River.
How many of these have you seen? Where else would you recommend visiting in Yosemite National Park?