• View of Half Dome and Washington Column in Yosemite Valley

    Yosemite

    National Park California

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Yosemite Valley

[T]he far-famed valley came suddenly into view throughout almost its whole extent: the noble walls, sculptured into endless variety of domes and gables, spires and battlements and plain mural precipices, all a-tremble with the thunder tones of the falling water. The level bottom seemed to be dressed like a garden, sunny meadows here and there and groves of pine and oak, the river of Mercy sweeping in majesty through the midst of them and flashing back the sunbeams. --John Muir

Yosemite Valley, home to many of the famous cliffs and waterfalls that make Yosemite National Park famous is accessible by car and bus all year.

To get there:

  • Car: You can drive into and around Yosemite Valley all year. Highways 41, 140, and 120 (from the west) provide access all year, although tire chains may be required from October or November through March or April.


  • Bus: Amtrak and Greyhound provide public transportation to Yosemite Valley.
 
Free shuttle service is available year-round in eastern Yosemite Valley and, in summer, as far west as El Capitan. We encourage you to use shuttle buses to reduce traffic congestion.

Visitor Centers & Museums

  • Valley Visitor Center (all year): Ranger-staffed information desk, bookstore, Spirit of Yosemite film, and exhibit hall detailing the park's geology, plant and animal life, and history.
  • Valley Wilderness Center (May to October): Offers wilderness permits, bear canisters, maps, and guidebooks. Information on pre-trip planning, minimum-impact camping, and the Yosemite Wilderness.
  • Yosemite Museum (all year): The Indian Cultural Exhibit and Village interprets the cultural history of Yosemite's native Miwok and Paiute people from 1850 to the present. Demonstrations of traditional skills are presented. The Gallery offers art exhibits periodically throught the year.
  • Nature Center at Happy Isles (May to September): Designed for nature-exploring families, this center offers natural history exhibits, and interactive displays. Nearby are short trails through the area’s forest, river, and fen environments. Evidence of the huge 1996 rockfall from the Glacier Point cliff is visible above.
  • LeConte Memorial Lodge (late May to early September): Yosemite's first public visitor center, operated by the Sierra Club, features a children's corner, library, and a variety of environmental education and evening programs.
 

Activities

 

Points of Interest

 
Venal Fall during spring runoff
Waterfalls: Yosemite Valley is home to most of the park's famous waterfalls. The best time to see them is during spring runoff; they have little or no water in late summer and fall.
 
El Capitan to the left, Bridaveil Fall to the right, and the rest of Yosemite Valley behind
Tunnel View provides one of the most famous views of Yosemite Valley. From here you can see El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall rising from Yosemite Valley, with Half Dome in the background. This viewpoint is at the east end of the Wawona Tunnel along the Wawona Road (Highway 41).
 
El Capitan rises over 3,000 feet above El Capitan Meadow
In Yosemite Valley, El Capitan Meadow provides a view straight up El Capitan and a great view of Cathedral Rocks, as well. Located along one-way Northside Drive, it is best to stop here on your way out of Yosemite Valley.
 
Beyond the Merced River are El Capitan (left) and Bridalveil Fall (right)
You can look up Yosemite Valley from alongside the Merced River at Valley View. Located along one-way Northside Drive, it is best to stop here on your way out of Yosemite Valley. This popular vista is located just after a view of Bridalveil Fall but immediately before Pohono Bridge, about the time you begin to see directional signs for highways leaving the park.
 
A boardwalk leads through a meadow toward Upper Yosemite Fall
In Yosemite Valley, the area around Sentinel Meadow and the Yosemite Chapel is a favorite place to stop to look at Yosemite Falls.
 
Half Dome reflected in Merced River
In Yosemite Valley, Sentinel Bridge is famous for its views of both Half Dome reflected in the Merced River. You can also see Yosemite Falls nearby.
 
Yosemite Falls; trailhead to Lower Yosemite Fall
Yosemite Lodge and Lower Yosemite Fall provide a closer view of Yosemite Falls. A short walk takes you right to the bottom.
 
Accessibility: Details about accessible facilities and trails is available in the park's accessibility guide [100 kb PDF].

Did You Know?

American black bear

Black bears in Yosemite are active both day and night. Most bears that rely on natural food sources are active during the day. However, those that get food from people are often active at night, when they can quietly sneak around and grab unattended food. More...