Yosemite Valley

Vacation Travel Guide
Yosemite Valley featuring a waterfall and mountains

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.

Top things to do in Yosemite Valley

Top Hotels Close to Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley Lodge
Yosemite Valley Lodge
3 out of 5
9006 Yosemite Lodge Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA
Situated in a national park, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Visitor Center. Cook's Meadow and Merced River are also within ...
4.2/5Very Good! (198 reviews)
"Amazing views and close to trails. Absolutely a great time"

Reviewed on Mar 18, 2021

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Yosemite Valley Lodge
Housekeeping Camp
Housekeeping Camp
1.5 out of 5
9004 Southside Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA
Situated in a national park, this campground is within 1 mi (2 km) of Merced River and Yosemite Visitor Center. Ahwahnee Meadow and Yosemite Mountaineering School ...
3.5/5Good! (105 reviews)
A really fun place to stay in Yosemite
"I was dubious about this place when I booked it as I don't like camping and I do like my creature comforts, but actually I really loved it and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for somewhere to stay in Yosemite. Firstly, it's a really affordable option in Yosemite where the hotels and ..."

Reviewed on Sep 9, 2016

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Housekeeping Camp
The Ahwahnee
The Ahwahnee
4 out of 5
9005 Ahwahnee Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA
Located near the slopes, this Yosemite National Park hotel is in the mountains, within 1 mi (2 km) of Ahwahnee Meadow and Yosemite Visitor Center, and close ...
4.3/5Excellent! (200 reviews)
"No housekeeping and food was very good but no table service (Covid rules) but rules were dated."

Reviewed on Jun 11, 2021

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The Ahwahnee
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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Best Lodging Options Near Yosemite Valley

B104 · 1 BDR Studio w Full Kitchen- Inside Yosemite National Park
B104 · 1 BDR Studio w Full Kitchen- Inside Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park, CA
The price is $197 per night from Sep 23 to Sep 23
B104 · 1 BDR Studio w Full Kitchen- Inside Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Valley Lodge
Yosemite Valley Lodge
3 out of 5
9006 Yosemite Lodge Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA
Yosemite Valley Lodge
Housekeeping Camp
Housekeeping Camp
1.5 out of 5
9004 Southside Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA
Housekeeping Camp
The Ahwahnee
The Ahwahnee
4 out of 5
9005 Ahwahnee Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA
The Ahwahnee
Curry Village
Curry Village
2.5 out of 5
9010 Curry Village Dr., Yosemite National Park, CA
Curry Village
Yosemite View Lodge
Yosemite View Lodge
2.5 out of 5
11136 Highway 140, El Portal, CA
The price is $207 per night from Sep 23 to Sep 23
Yosemite View Lodge
PaPa Bear Cabin
PaPa Bear Cabin
Yosemite National Park, CA
PaPa Bear Cabin
Yosemite Retreat for you and your family
Yosemite Retreat for you and your family
Yosemite National Park, CA
Yosemite Retreat for you and your family
Large Vacation Home, Former B&B, Inside Yosemite
Large Vacation Home, Former B&B, Inside Yosemite
Yosemite National Park, CA
Large Vacation Home, Former B&B, Inside Yosemite
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.