01. cascade creek falls | Situated on your way into Yosemite Valley to the left side of the road when you take the 120 or Big Oak Flat Road into the Valley. There are only a couple of car spaces available to pull over to walk to the bridge this waterfall is situated next to, which are quickly filled up in peak seasons like summer. So hopefully as you're driving past there aren't too many people pulled over already!
02. merced river from above | Also situated on Big Oak Flat Road as you head into Yosemite Valley, make a stop on the Pohono Bridge to see this impressive view of the Merced River from above. These two images were taken on a winter morning.
03. half dome | Get your first glimpses of the Half Dome amongst the rest of the landscape of Yosemite National Park. This spot in an unnamed viewpoint just off Big Oak Flat Road before Cascade Creek Falls, with a small space for you to pull over, stretch your legs and see the first of many amazing views to come.
04. tunnel view | This is the spot to get *the* shot of Yosemite. This is not a viewpoint literally in the tunnel right next to the carpark. We saw a lot of people walking on the tiny pathway inside the polluted tunnel to get to a viewpoint that isn't the right one (although you can get a view of the side of mountain from here)! Tunnel View is the view you see just a few steps from the carpark out in the fresh air. To get here, you need to drive to the east end of the Wawona Tunnel along the Wawona Road/Highway 41. From here you can see El Capitan and Bridal Veil Falls as well as Half Dome right in the background. The first image was taken in the summer, so the falls were quite small and were hard to see. The next two images were taken in the winter where the waterfalls were flowing, however there were plenty of low-hanging clouds and fog which made it hard to see the Half Dome at times.
05. valley view | Situated to the left side of the one-way Northside Drive on your way out of Yosemite Valley, just before the last bridge before seeing the signs to the highway. There is a little carpark that fits around 15-20 cars and is a few steps from the road. This is the view of the valley from the Merced River. The first picture is Valley View in the winter, the second image is in the summer.
06. yosemite falls | While Yosemite Valley, pull over and take a walk around Sentinel Meadow where you can see some amazing views and a different perspective of Yosemite Falls. Be sure to listen to the signs and stay on the marked paths to 'give plants a chance' to grow back again!
07. el capitan bridge | Located along the one-way Northside Drive on your way out of Yosemite Valley. There are plenty of spots to pull over by the bridge to see views of El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks.
08. cathedral rocks | Located along one-way Northside Drive and close by to El Capitan Bridge, El Capitan Meadow gives you impressive views of Cathedral Rocks as well as El Capitan itself. In the summer, we saw plenty of deer grazing in the meadows early in the morning and in the winter we caught glimpses of two wolves chasing after each other in the afternoon!
09. half dome sunset | Stop by Sentinel Bridge at sunset to see the last light linger on the Half Dome while being reflected in the Merced River. When the weather conditions are just right only the top of the Half Dome will be lit up in vivid colours.
10. glacier point | Located at the end of Glacier Point Road, about an hours drive out of Yosemite Valley. This is one of my favourite lookouts in Yosemite - you can see the Half Dome as well as many other mountains and you have clear views of Vernal and Nevada falls. If you use the binoculars at the viewpoint you can even see all the people that have hiked to the falls! I would recommend to get to this viewpoint early in the morning during peak seasons. Not only does it look amazing in the morning light, but once there are too many people they close access to Glacier Point Road until people leave to make more room. Access to this road is also closed during the Winter season, however you can make the 10 mile (one way) hike to Glacier Point or spend time at Badger Pass Ski Area (photo below).
While there are some amazing hikes you can do while in Yosemite National Park, I thought it would be a great idea to put together a blog post of all the landmarks and viewpoints you can see along the way that are super easy to get to. Whether you are only visiting for a short length of time or are looking for new perspectives to photograph the park, I hope this blog post has been helpful! What other viewpoints have you been to in Yosemite that you can recommend? I'd love to visit them on my next trip and add them to this list!