9 Breathtaking Things to See in Yosemite National Park

By Kathryn McLamb, POPSUGAR

Internationally recognized for its deep canyons, puncturing peaks, and wild rock formations, Yosemite National Park has been captivating hearts since it was first established in 1890. These days, this jaw-dropper of an area, located in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California, entices over four million visitors to its gates annually, and it's no surprise why.

Home to nearly 1,200 square miles of untouched wilderness waiting to be explored, Yosemite is the ultimate outdoor playground for adventurers ready to roam and wander. So if you, too, are seeking to reconnect with Mother Nature and become instantly inspired, don't miss the scenic spots ahead.


Yosemite Valley

To get your mountainous adventure started on the right foot, head straight to Yosemite Valley. Stretching along 7.5 miles, this glacial valley is surrounded by soaring summits and densely-thickened forests with lush pines and vibrant wildlife.

It is also the launching point for multiple day hikes, making this area one of the best places to experience the tranquility of the High Sierra.


Yosemite Falls

Plunging a total of 2,425 feet, Yosemite Falls is not only the highest waterfall in the park; it's among the highest waterfalls in the world. Although the best time to view this rushing cascade is during late Spring when the melting snow creates the strongest flow, let's be real: it's a beauty to behold no matter the season.

What's more? You can even hike to various levels of the falls, including the top, which is home to a natural swimming pool. However, if you do decide to trek to the peak, make sure you're prepared, as this strenuous hike usually takes around six to eight hours to complete.


Glacier Point

For a unique perspective of the park, be sure to stop at Glacier Point. With an elevation of 7,214 feet, this infamous overlook offers spectacular views of Yosemite's valley and high country, not to mention Half Dome. (Don't worry: I'm covering more on this in the next slide.)

The best part is that it's easily accessible by car. So if you happen to be looking for sweeping vistas but wishing to bypass any form of hiking, this is the place to go. And if you truly want to amazed, plan your visit around sunrise or sunset. There's no doubt you'll leave speechless.


Half Dome

No trip to Yosemite would be complete without feasting your eyes on the widely acclaimed Half Dome. Named for its distinct shape and challenging hike to the top, this sheer-faced granite masterpiece rises nearly 5,000 feet above the valley, and 8,800 feet above sea level.

Whether you decide to relish in its beauty from afar or strap on your boots to endure the 15-mile trek to its peak, this will be one rock formation you won't forget.


Sentinel Dome

Looking for a hike with just as magnificent views, but a little less strenuous? If so, Sentinel Dome has your back. With a total of 2.2 miles, this moderate-level trek only takes about one to two hours roundtrip, making it one of the easiest ways to experience Yosemite's majestic mountains up close.


Taft Point

Another quick hike is Taft Point. Located to the left of the Sentinel Dome trailhead, this two-mile trek is the spot to go if you're yearning to overcome any fear of heights, as it's practically Glacier Point without the guardrails. Here, you will find breathtaking vistas, as well as fascinating fissures in the mile-high granite rock.

Who knows, you might even witness a few tightrope walkers once you've arrived to the edge of the cliffs!


Bridalveil Fall

The hike to Bridalveil Fall might be short — and a bit touristy — but the cascading waters rushing over the mountainside are nothing short of sensational. Serving as one of the most prominent waterfalls in the Yosemite Valley, this waterfall is over 600 feet high and the half-mile trail is open year-round.

Be sure to come early, though. Due to limited parking, the trailhead can get quite crowded throughout the day.


El Capitan

Just one glimpse of El Capitan will be all it takes to become flooded with inspiration, and maybe even a bit of adrenaline. Situated on the north side of the Yosemite Valley, this enormous, vertical rock formation soars approximately 3,000 feet into the air and is a beloved beacon for rock climbers around the globe.


Tunnel View

Now, let's say you want to see Yosemite Valley, Bridalveil Fall, Half Dome, and El Capitan all in one place. Well, Tunnel View can make that happen. In fact, this expansive, scenic overlook has been one of the park's top attractions since it opened back in 1933.
But if you're heading this way, make sure to arrive early. Because of its easy accessibility, it doesn't take long before the parking area becomes cramped with tour buses and cars.

Furthermore, do yourself a favor and visit Tunnel View again at night. Miles away from any dominating city lights, it's the perfect setting for stargazing.


Let's not forget about accommodations!

When it comes for accommodations, camping will be the best bet if you want to squeeze in as much time with Mother Nature as possible. And thanks to the 13 campgrounds peppered throughout Yosemite National Park, you certainly have a range of options. Just remember to keep in mind that many of these areas are on a reservation system, so be sure to plan ahead.
But don't fret if you're not quite ready to sleep on the ground, as this adorable vintage camper will be the next best thing. This unique, tiny trailer will provide you with the experience of camping, all while offering a few more amenities. And at just $65 per night, you couldn't ask for a better deal. Did I mention there's even goats on the property?

Plus, it's located in the town of Mariposa, which radiates eclectic Old-Western vibes and houses a surplus of delicious eateries. From comforting classics at Sugar Pine Cafe to fresh juices at High Country Health Foods and caffeinating cups of joe at Pony Expresso, you'll be fueled up for days of outdoor fun!



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Travel Magazine: 9 Breathtaking Things to See in Yosemite National Park
9 Breathtaking Things to See in Yosemite National Park
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