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El Capitan

Experience the enormity of Yosemite Valley’s glacially carved granite peaks when you gaze upon this distinctive formation and rock-climbing landmark.

El Capitan is one of Yosemite National Park’s best-known features, rising sharply from the valley floor in a spectacular precipitous formation. Translating to “the captain” in Spanish, El Capitan looks out over the magnificent valley and dares rock climbers and hikers to reach its dizzying peaks. See the mesmerizing rock face from one of several roads that wind through the western part of Yosemite Valley or grab your climbing equipment and tackle “El Cap” yourself.

The sheer cliff face of El Capitan stands opposite the magnificent mists of Bridalveil Fall. Drive along the roads that connect Tunnel View, El Capitan Meadow and the Bridalveil Fall area to get clear views of Yosemite’s chief peak and the climbers scaling its face. Rising over 3,000 feet (900 meters) from its base, the granite monolith’s tallest face is easy to identify from the length of the valley. The Mariposa Battalion gave the formation its name while exploring the valley in 1851. The local Native American name for the formation translates to “Rock Chief” or “Captain,” inspiring the Spanish name.

Photograph the precipice and capture the sunlight as it reflects off the rock face. Sunset is a popular time for photographers in this colossal landscape, when the colors of the sunlight cast red and orange hues across the granite sentinel.

Reach El Capitan’s base by hiking out of Yosemite Valley on the trail that heads west from Yosemite Falls. Keen rock climbers have long heralded El Capitan as one of the world’s greatest challenges. If you are an experienced climber, bring your gear and tackle one of the climbing routes ascending the sheer granite face. If not, use binoculars to view climbers on the southwest and southeast faces.

El Capitan is located in the valley’s western section at the center of Yosemite National Park. See the magnificent peak as you drive along one of several scenic routes that pass through the soaring valley. Visit in summer to see the stark contrast of the blue sky above the pale rock or check out the views in winter when snow dusts the formation’s nose.


Guide to Exploring around El Capitan


Map

Lodging Near El Capitan

See all 131 Hotels near El Capitan
$99
Yosemite View Lodge

Yosemite View Lodge

11136 Highway 140, El Portal
3.8
of 5, from 2,178 reviews
2.5 out of 5.0

This vacation lodge fronts the wild Merced River and is just 2 miles from the entrance to Yosemite National Park.

$366
Inside Yosemite Spring Wonderland

Inside Yosemite Spring Wonderland

7428B Yosemite Parkway, Yosemite National Park
5.0
of 5, from 1 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Yosemite National Park, this vacation home is within 12 mi (20 km) of Badger Pass, Tunnel View, and Bridalveil Fall. El Capitan and Pioneer Yosemite History Center are also within 16 mi (25 km).

$455
Yosemite West Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals

Yosemite West Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals

Various Addresses, Yosemite National Park
4.6
of 5, from 17 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

These cabins are located throughout the area in Yosemite National Park.

$403
Inside Yosemite Park Winter Wonderland

Inside Yosemite Park Winter Wonderland

7428 Yosemite Parkway, Yosemite National Park
4.0
of 5, from 1 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Yosemite National Park, this vacation home is within 12 mi (20 km) of Badger Pass, Tunnel View, and Bridalveil Fall. El Capitan and Pioneer Yosemite History Center are also within 16 mi (25 km).

$366
Inside Yosemite Mountain Beauty

Inside Yosemite Mountain Beauty

7436 Henness Ridge Road, Yosemite National Park
4.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Yosemite National Park, this vacation home is within 12 mi (20 km) of Badger Pass, Tunnel View, and Bridalveil Fall. El Capitan and Pioneer Yosemite History Center are also within 16 mi (25 km).

$402
Inside Yosemite Sierra Blossom

Inside Yosemite Sierra Blossom

7432 Henness Ridge Road, Yosemite National Park
4.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Yosemite National Park, this vacation home is within 12 mi (20 km) of Badger Pass, Tunnel View, and Bridalveil Fall. El Capitan and Pioneer Yosemite History Center are also within 16 mi (25 km).

$366
Inside Yosemite Lower Cascades

Inside Yosemite Lower Cascades

7426 Yosemite Parkway, Yosemite National Park
4.0
of 5, from 2 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Yosemite National Park, this vacation home is within 12 mi (20 km) of Badger Pass, Tunnel View, and Bridalveil Fall. El Capitan and Pioneer Yosemite History Center are also within 16 mi (25 km).

$340
Yosemite Scenic Wonders - Wawona Area

Yosemite Scenic Wonders - Wawona Area

Various Addresses, Yosemite National Park
5.0
of 5, from 5 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

These cabins are located throughout the area in Yosemite National Park.