Tunnel View Overlook Rehabilitation

Tunnel View before (left) and after project (right), part of which involved removing some trees to open up the scenery


The Tunnel View scenic overlook is a historic site located adjacent to Wawona Road. This overlook affords expansive views of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and Half Dome that have captured the awe of visitors for nearly 75 years. The overlook was constructed in 1932 during an era that heralded a boom in design and development throughout the National Park Service, and helped initiate the National Park Service “rustic design style.” Wawona Tunnel and Tunnel View were determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 because of their exemplary design. Very little physical change has occurred to Tunnel View’s physical features (including rockwork, circulation patterns, and configuration) since it was completed in 1933. The site remains one of the most popular scenic overlooks in Yosemite National Park. Tour buses, tram tours, RVs, and single-family vehicles bring an estimated five to seven thousand people to the site per day during the height of the tourist season.

The purpose of the Tunnel View Overlook Rehabilitation Project was to remedy long-standing vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian safety issues, to correct drainage deficiencies and problems, to provide clear circulation patterns for pedestrians and vehicles, to enhance and maintain viewing opportunities for visitors, to provide accessibility to viewing areas, to correct safety problems associated with the Inspiration Point trailhead, and to address sanitation issues, while maintaining the naturalistic, rustic character and integrity of this historic site. Public scoping for this project was initiated in late spring 2007 with an environmental assessment produced in fall 2007. A Finding of No Significant Impact was signed in December 2007. Work to implement this project took place in 2008.

The completed project provides a safer, rehabilitated scenic overlook from which to experience one of Yosemite’s most spectacular views. Elements of the project include:

  • Restore the historic view by selectively thinning conifers that currently obstruct it
  • Provide clear parking areas for cars, RVs, trams, and tour buses
  • Improve traffic flow to lessen congestion
  • Improve visitor safety at viewing platform
  • Improve accessibility at site
  • Install new wayside exhibits

Last updated: February 10, 2020

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