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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.

Popular Activities at Yosemite Valley

Like to make your stop at Yosemite Valley even more special? Don't miss the chance to try out some of these things to do:

You might like to consider purchasing a Beginner Yosemite National Park Guided Adventure Hike for 2 or an Intermediate Yosemite National Park Adventure Hike while you're visiting. These experiences are a couple of the most sought-after.

If you're after more activities, peruse our California things to do page.


Guide to Exploring around Yosemite Valley


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Lodging Near Yosemite Valley

See all 154 Properties near Yosemite Valley
Yosemite View Lodge $219
Reviewed on May 12, 2019
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Yosemite View Lodge

Yosemite View Lodge

11136 Highway 140, El Portal, CA
     
    3.8 of 5
    2.5 out of 5.0

    Location was only 4 km from the park entrance. Good room with an amazing view of the river. Clean and quiet with a good Yarts bus service to Yosemite. Good pizza .

    Yosemite West Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals $250
    Reviewed on May 9, 2019
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    Yosemite West Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals

    Yosemite West Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals

    Various Addresses, Yosemite National Park, CA
       
      4.7 of 5
      3.5 out of 5.0

      property was comfortable but needed some outside repair which may happen now that the snow is melted. comfortable accommodations except for one mattress in upstairs BR. Some expected kitchen items were not stocked adequately (coffee and sugar)

      Sweetwater Lodge: Modern Home Inside the Park
      Sweetwater Lodge: Modern Home Inside the Park

      Sweetwater Lodge: Modern Home Inside the Park

      Yosemite National Park, CA
         
        0.0 out of 5.0
        Brand New Upscale Yosemite West Vacation Home Inside Yosemite National Park Gate
        Reviewed on Sep 25, 2018
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        Brand New Upscale Yosemite West Vacation Home Inside Yosemite National Park Gate

        Brand New Upscale Yosemite West Vacation Home Inside Yosemite National Park Gate

        Yosemite National Park, CA
           
          4.9 of 5
          0.0 out of 5.0

          I had high hopes for this rental. Especially since all the reviews were raving about it... and somehow it still exceeded my expectations. Very beautiful home with all the amenities you would need and more. Bathrooms had toothbrushes, toothpaste, mini shampoos and conditioners, sunscreen, lotion, ...

          Yosemite Hideaway "A" 3br 2ba
          Yosemite Hideaway "A" 3br 2ba

          Yosemite Hideaway "A" 3br 2ba

          Yosemite National Park, CA
             
            0.0 out of 5.0

            Situated in Yosemite National Park, this vacation home is within 9 mi (15 km) of Sierra National Forest, Yosemite Valley, and Badger Pass. Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall are also within 12 mi (20 km).

            Cozy Hideaway Studio B
            Cozy Hideaway Studio B

            Cozy Hideaway Studio B

            Yosemite National Park, CA
               
              0.0 out of 5.0

              Situated in Yosemite National Park, this apartment building is within 9 mi (15 km) of Sierra National Forest, Yosemite Valley, and Badger Pass. Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall are also within 12 mi (20 km).

              Inside Yosemite N.p. Gates!, Our Cozy Rooms Are Minutes From Valley Attractions
              Reviewed on Nov 23, 2018
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              Inside Yosemite N.p. Gates!, Our Cozy Rooms Are Minutes From Valley Attractions

              Inside Yosemite N.p. Gates!, Our Cozy Rooms Are Minutes From Valley Attractions

              Yosemite National Park, CA
                 
                5.0 of 5
                0.0 out of 5.0

                At the heart of a beautiful environment, the peregrine lodge meets all your needs. The location looks secret as in a dream. The huge window offers you a spectacular view on the Yosemite forest. After an endless contemplation, the night sky full of stars makes you feel dreaming. In the king bed size ...

                Inside Yosemite N.p. Gates!, our Luxury Home is Minutes From Valley Attractions
                Reviewed on Dec 31, 2018
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                Inside Yosemite N.p. Gates!, our Luxury Home is Minutes From Valley Attractions

                Inside Yosemite N.p. Gates!, our Luxury Home is Minutes From Valley Attractions

                Yosemite National Park, CA
                   
                  4.9 of 5
                  0.0 out of 5.0

                  A beautiful home with excellent views of surrounding Yosemite with snow capped mountains. David and his wife were wonderful hosts. I wondered if there was an outdoor grill and David said it was stored for the winter. I said "no problem," but he took it out of storage and placed it right outside the ...