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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 Yosemite Valley


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Top Hotel Deals

See all 137 properties near Yosemite Valley
Yosemite View Lodge Rs13,105
Reviewed on 22 Apr 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

    We had so much fun staying here! The room was huge. Super clean! We loved the big two person shower and the big jacuzzi tub. The room also had a cozy fireplace and big screen TV with cable and HBO. It had a wonderful balcony right in the river. The kitchenette was perfect! There's not a lot of restaurants ...

    Yosemite West Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals Rs20,889
    Reviewed on 23 Apr 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

      Beautiful and modern cabin, excellent location. Amazin view.

      Yosemite Scenic Wonders - Wawona Area Rs24,371
      Reviewed on 1 Mar 2019
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      Yosemite Scenic Wonders - Wawona Area

      Yosemite Scenic Wonders - Wawona Area

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

        Everything was here. Not a stone unturned. Highly recommend. 👍

        Inside Yosemite Mountain Beauty Rs28,022
        Reviewed on 18 Mar 2017
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        Inside Yosemite Mountain Beauty

        Inside Yosemite Mountain Beauty

        7436 Henness Ridge Road, Yosemite National Park, CA
           
          4.0 of 5
          4.0 out of 5.0

          The location is great. The house at the first glance is great, but several maintenance issues discounted our stay. The faucet tap of shower at the bathroom on the first floor is broken. My wife and I had to use one hand to hold the tap to have a hot water shower. The flush of toilet at the one of ...

          Inside Yosemite Sierra Blossom Rs40,783
          Inside Yosemite Sierra Blossom

          Inside Yosemite Sierra Blossom

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

            Situated in Yosemite National Park, this holiday home is 2.9 mi (4.7 km) from Sierra National Forest and within 9 miles (15 km) of Yosemite Valley and Badger Pass. Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall are also within 12 miles (20 km).

            Inside Yosemite Park Winter Wonderland
            Reviewed on 25 Jun 2018
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            Inside Yosemite Park Winter Wonderland

            Inside Yosemite Park Winter Wonderland

            7428 Yosemite Parkway, Yosemite National Park, CA
               
              4.5 of 5
              4.0 out of 5.0

              Excellent spacious property very well furnished, and pretty easy to locate in a convenient to access location. Only thing, didn't realize there was no AC (wasn't a big deal to manage with the fans).

              Inside Yosemite Spring Wonderland Rs25,475
              Reviewed on 26 Mar 2017
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              Inside Yosemite Spring Wonderland

              Inside Yosemite Spring Wonderland

              7428B Yosemite Parkway, Yosemite National Park, CA
                 
                4.5 of 5
                4.0 out of 5.0

                Nice house with three bedrooms with everything we need.

                Inside Yosemite Lower Cascades Rs25,475
                Reviewed on 20 Nov 2018
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                Inside Yosemite Lower Cascades

                Inside Yosemite Lower Cascades

                7426 Yosemite Parkway, Yosemite National Park, CA
                   
                  4.4 of 5
                  4.0 out of 5.0

                  Beautiful and well equipped house in a great location, very close to Yosemite valley.