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Yosemite Valley

From Yosemite Falls to Half Dome and El Capitan, you can see some of the most stunning scenery in the world from Yosemite National Park’s central valley.

Yosemite Valley is the emerald green heart of Yosemite National Park. Marvel at the soaring granite walls, including some of the park’s most iconic landmarks, flanking this 8-mile (13-kilometer) canyon. 

Just about everywhere you turn in Yosemite Valley, you’ll see a thundering waterfall cascading from a clifftop above. The most visited is Yosemite Falls, which is the largest waterfall in North America. Other notable ones include Sentinel Fall, Bridalveil Fall and Nevada Fall. In February, don’t miss Horsetail Fall, which famously appears as if it is on fire when it reflects the sunset.

For a close look at one of the world’s most recognizable rock faces, bring your picnic blanket to El Capitan Meadow. El Capitan, a favorite destination for rock climbers and cliff jumpers, towers above you. This is located along the one-way Northside Drive, so you should stop here on your way out of Yosemite Valley.

Half Dome is an iconic symbol of Yosemite, recognizable in Ansel Adams photographs. Although its face is best left to experienced climbers, hardy hikers can reach its summit along a 15-mile (24 kilometer) loop trail that begins in Yosemite Valley. You can do the climb in a day or to make the experience more relaxed, stay overnight in one of the campsites along the trail. If you’d rather settle for a great vantage point of the vertical face, visit Sentinel Bridge, where you can see Half Dome reflected in the Merced River. 

Get your camera out at Tunnel View, which provides one of the best vistas in Yosemite National Park. Stop at the east end of the Wawona Tunnel and enjoy the panoramic view of El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall with Half Dome towering in the background. 

Driving through Yosemite Valley is allowed throughout the year. During busy periods, avoid traffic congestion and take advantage of the valley’s free shuttle service. With year-round service in eastern Yosemite Valley and summer service as far west as El Capitan, this is an effortless way to see the area’s major attractions.


Guide to Exploring around Yosemite Valley


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Map

Lodging Near Yosemite Valley

See all 154 Hotels near Yosemite Valley
Yosemite View Lodge $169
Yosemite View Lodge

Yosemite View Lodge

11136 Highway 140, El Portal
     
    3.8
    of 5, from 5,382 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.

    Yosemite West Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals $275
    Yosemite West Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals

    Yosemite West Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals

    Various Addresses, Yosemite National Park
       
      4.7
      of 5, from 48 reviews
      3.5 out of 5.0

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

      Inside Yosemite Mountain Beauty $366
      Inside Yosemite Mountain Beauty

      Inside Yosemite Mountain Beauty

      7436 Henness Ridge Road, 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).

        Inside Yosemite Lower Cascades $695
        Inside Yosemite Lower Cascades

        Inside Yosemite Lower Cascades

        7426 Yosemite Parkway, Yosemite National Park
           
          4.5
          of 5, from 4 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).

          Inside Yosemite Sierra Blossom $671
          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).

            Serenity Suite- Luxury for Two. King Bed, Inside Park Gates, Highest Reviews
            Serenity Suite- Luxury for Two. King Bed, Inside Park Gates, Highest Reviews

            Serenity Suite- Luxury for Two. King Bed, Inside Park Gates, Highest Reviews

            , Yosemite West
               
              4.8
              of 5, from 21 reviews
              0.0 out of 5.0

              Situated in Yosemite National Park, this property is close to Yosemite Arch Rock Gate Entrance. Area attractions also include Badger Pass and Tunnel View.

              Royal Retreat--rare 2 King Bedrooms, Inside Park Gates, Most 5* Reviews
              Royal Retreat--rare 2 King Bedrooms, Inside Park Gates, Most 5* Reviews

              Royal Retreat--rare 2 King Bedrooms, Inside Park Gates, Most 5* Reviews

              , Yosemite West
                 
                5.0
                of 5, from 17 reviews
                0.0 out of 5.0

                Situated in Yosemite National Park, this property is close to Yosemite Arch Rock Gate Entrance. Area attractions also include Badger Pass and Tunnel View.

                Inside Yosemite Spring Wonderland $366
                Inside Yosemite Spring Wonderland

                Inside Yosemite Spring Wonderland

                7428B Yosemite Parkway, Yosemite National Park
                   
                  4.5
                  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).