[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
To Get There
Traffic in Yosemite Valley
While we welcome you to Yosemite, you should expect traffic congestion, especially in Yosemite Valley and at park entrances. If you are planning to visit Yosemite Valley by car for the day, arrive before 9 am, after which parking is usually full.
Parking is available at Yosemite Village, Curry Village, and near Yosemite Falls. If you find a parking space, plan to leave your car there; you will not be able to find another parking spot.
Once all parking in Yosemite Valley is full, you may be redirected to other areas (which will also have limited parking).
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Each year, Yosemite National Park welcomes over four million visitors. If you are planning to visit Yosemite, plan ahead and arrive early. In summer, expect extended traffic delays and extremely limited parking. Expect delays of an hour or more at entrance stations and two to three hours in Yosemite Valley.
Visitor Centers & Museums
Points of Interest
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.
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).
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.
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.
In Yosemite Valley, the area around Sentinel Meadow, the Yosemite Chapel, and Yosemite Valley Lodge are favorite places to stop to look at Yosemite Falls.
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.
Accessibility: Details about accessible facilities and trails is available in the park's accessibility guide [100 kb PDF].
Last updated: January 17, 2024