El Capitan Meadow

Clouds surround a large granite monolith.

Quick Facts

Scenic View/Photo Spot

El Capitan, rising over 3,000 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley, is a favorite for experienced rock climbers and onlookers alike. El Capitan is best seen from El Capitan Meadow.

From spring to fall, climbers come from all over the globe to scale El Capitan and discover the thrill of the vertical wilderness on Yosemite's big walls. Gain a different perspective at night and see the climber's headlamps illuminate across the El Capitan rock face as they prepare their meals or get ready for bed. Also, get a glimpse of the Milky Way or see how the rocks of Yosemite Valley glow beneath a full moon.

El Capitan Meadow also provides a great view of Lower and Middle Cathedral Rock, and the Cathedral Spires, which loom over the meadow. Some people think these rocks, just opposite of El Capitan, are even more impressive than El Capitan itself!

The Ahwahneechee name for the rock we now call El Capitan is Tutokanula. This is an Ahwahneechee legend that has been recorded and tells of how El Capitan was created in the time of the animal people. As two bear cubs slept on a large flat rock near the river, the rock grew until the bears scratched their faces against the moon. The mother bear called on all the animals to rescue her babies, but none succeeded until the lowly inchworm (Tutokanula) crawled slowly to the top and led the cubs safely down.


Getting Here:
Located on Northside Drive, near the west end of Yosemite Valley.

Rules & Regulations:
Stay on designated trails to protect the meadow and to prevent social trails. Wherever you go in Yosemite, tread lightly and avoid decorating nature's meadows with footprints and tire tracks.

The path into the El Capitan Meadow is dirt. There are limited parking pull outs along this stretch of road that will grant similar views from your vehicle.

Yosemite National Park

Last updated: April 5, 2024