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Yosemite National Park, California: 12 Must-See Attractions
Yosemite National Park has several iconic sights and breathtaking landscapes, making it one of California's most popular places.
Yosemite National Park has several iconic sights and breathtaking landscapes, making it one of California's most popular places. It boasts about 747,956 acres, where 95% of this park comprises thousands of plant species and hundreds of animal species.
In 1984, Yosemite National Park was labeled as a World Heritage Site. At this national park, you are bound to have an experience of a lifetime. Here are the must-see attractions at Yosemite Park.
1. Glacier Point
Glacier Point is one of the top must-see attractions in Yosemite National Park. At an altitude of 7,200 feet, you can have a grand view of Yosemite Falls, the Vernal Waterfalls, Half Dome, and the Sierra Nevada high country.
US President Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir once camped out at Glacier Point. This cliff presents one of the best places to camp and enjoy full-moon nights.
It will only take you one hour to get to Glacier Point from Yosemite Village. Note that the road to this site is often closed from November to May due to snow. However, you can access the magical viewpoint by snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
2. El Capitan
El Capitan rises nearly 3000 feet from its Yosemite Valley base. It presents a stunning natural rock formation whose granite walls dominate the western end of Yosemite Valley. El Capitan is three times as tall as the Eiffel Tower or 2.5 times high as the Empire State Building.
This gigantic monolith has an incredible view that serves as a muse for photographers and a beacon for visitors. It is also a perfect place for rock climbing enthusiasts. For rock climbers, El Capitan is the ultimate challenge.
3. Half Dome
Like the El Capitan, Half Dome is also a gigantic rock formation. It rises 4,737 feet from its base at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley. The name Half Dome comes from its appearance, where its face looks like a giant rock cut in half.
You can spot the Half Dome from various vantage points in Yosemite National Park, including Glacier Point and Tunnel View. The best activities to do at the Half Dome include hiking and photography.
4. Mariposa Grove
Mariposa Grove is the largest sequoia grove in the southern portion of Yosemite. At this site, you will see over 500 mature giant redwoods. In addition, you will have the opportunity to see a 2700-year-old giant sequoia that stands about 63m. You will also see the faithful couple comprised of two gigantic trees whose trunks are intertwined at the base, forming an incredible sequoia display.
Mariposa Grove marks a significant part of US history. It is one of the first scenic natural sites the federal government set aside for protection to benefit future generations.
5. Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls is one of the most striking and memorable features of Yosemite National Park. At this location, you will see water tumbling over granite walls and pounding on the rocks at the cliff's base. The best way to experience the falls is by hiking the Yosemite Falls trail.
However, you can still see the stunning view of the falls from your car. Driving your own car gives you the freedom to explore the fall at your own pace. What's more, you don't have to worry about missing a bus or running to keep up with the tour group.
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6. Bridalveil Fall
Bridalveil Fall presents a stunning spectacle of nature, where it gushes down from a remarkable 620 feet. The allure of this cascading waterfall is irresistible at any time of the year. However, this waterfall becomes more voluminous during spring.
Note that the waterfall has powerful currents. Therefore, be prepared to get soaked if you get near the waterfall's base. You will also have impressive views of the Valley and Tunnel View at the Bridalveil Fall.
7. Tunnel View
The most popular and gorgeous outlook in Yosemite is from Tunnel View. From its vantage point, you will get an eyeful of the best Yosemite National Park sights, including the Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan, and Half Dome.
The best time to appreciate this fantastic scene is in the afternoon, as the walls are often in shadows in the morning. You can enter the Tunnel View from Wawona Road.
8. Tuolumne Meadows
You will find the Tuolumne Meadows on the eastern side of the Yosemite National Park. It is one of the highest-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada, which stands at 8600 feet. At the Tuolumne Meadows, you will find plenty of picturesque scenery, including scenic mountainscapes, bubbling creeks and rivers, lush forests, and peaceful grasslands.
The best thing is that there are vista points where you can relish the magnificent scenery from the comfort of your car. You will also find many hiking trails that can help you take your Tuolumne Meadows experience to the next level.
9. Tenaya Lake
Tenaya Lake is one of the best water attractions in Yosemite National Park. One of the most incredible things about this lake is that it has fewer crowds. You will find Tenaya Lake on the eastern side of the Yosemite Valley.
This mile-long Tenaya Lake presents a stunning scene reflecting the majestic granite peaks. During summer, the lake provides the perfect place for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. You can also take up paddleboarding and fishing in the lake.
10. Vernal Fall
The 96 m fall, Vernal, is one of Yosemite National Park's most extraordinary crown jewels. It boasts the perfect sight for photography. To see the best of Vernal Fall, you will need to hike from the Happy Isles trail.
This hike is about a 1.6-mile round trip. Note that the cascading water causes water splashes; thus, carry a raincoat with you. The reflection of the sun may also give you the opportunity to see stunning rainbows.
11. Horsetail Fall
The Horsetail Fall is a seasonal waterfall that pours in early spring and winter. You will see it from the eastern side of the El Capitan. During the month of February, the waterfall appears as if it is on fire as the setting sun illuminates it.
The red and orange glow of the Horsetail Fall provides an incredibly picturesque sight. Many travelers refer to this natural and rare phenomenon as the Firefall. To see the blazing Firefall, get there during the evening as the sun sets.
12. Cloud Rest
Cloud Rests boasts panoramic scenery, which experienced hikers can revel in. The hike involves a 15-mile round trip that takes hikers to the highest point of a thin granite peak. At the top of this peak, you see a sight where clouds appear to sit upon the mountain.
Note that the Cloud Rest hike can be strenuous. However, the stunning views it presents make it worth it. From the top of the mountain, you will see the iconic attractions of Yosemite National Park, including Tenaya Lake and Half Dome.
Yosemite National Park has plenty of majestic and natural attractions worthy of photography and writing about. The best thing is that you can see most of the attractions from the comfort of your vehicle. However, you can take the national park's experience further by participating in hiking, camping, or skiing activities.