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Yosemite Valley is the emerald green heart of Yosemite National Park. Marvel at the soaring granite walls, including some of the park’s most iconic landmarks, flanking this 8-mile (13-kilometer) canyon.
Just about everywhere you turn in Yosemite Valley, you’ll see a thundering waterfall cascading from a clifftop above. The most visited is Yosemite Falls, which is the largest waterfall in North America. Other notable ones include Sentinel Fall, Bridalveil Fall and Nevada Fall. In February, don’t miss Horsetail Fall, which famously appears as if it is on fire when it reflects the sunset.
For a close look at one of the world’s most recognizable rock faces, bring your picnic blanket to El Capitan Meadow. El Capitan, a favorite destination for rock climbers and cliff jumpers, towers above you. This is located along the one-way Northside Drive, so you should stop here on your way out of Yosemite Valley.
Half Dome is an iconic symbol of Yosemite, recognizable in Ansel Adams photographs. Although its face is best left to experienced climbers, hardy hikers can reach its summit along a 15-mile (24 kilometer) loop trail that begins in Yosemite Valley. You can do the climb in a day or to make the experience more relaxed, stay overnight in one of the campsites along the trail. If you’d rather settle for a great vantage point of the vertical face, visit Sentinel Bridge, where you can see Half Dome reflected in the Merced River.
Get your camera out at Tunnel View, which provides one of the best vistas in Yosemite National Park. Stop at the east end of the Wawona Tunnel and enjoy the panoramic view of El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall with Half Dome towering in the background.
Driving through Yosemite Valley is allowed throughout the year. During busy periods, avoid traffic congestion and take advantage of the valley’s free shuttle service. With year-round service in eastern Yosemite Valley and summer service as far west as El Capitan, this is an effortless way to see the area’s major attractions.
Like to make your stop at Yosemite Valley even more special? Don't miss the chance to try out some of these things to do:
You might like to consider purchasing a Beginner Yosemite National Park Guided Adventure Hike for 2 or an Intermediate Yosemite National Park Adventure Hike while you're visiting. These experiences are a couple of the most sought-after.
If you're after more activities, peruse our California things to do page.
Situated in a national park, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Yosemite Valley and Yosemite Falls. Yosemite Visitor Center is 0.8 mi (1.2 km) away.
Situated in a national park, this historic hotel is steps away from Ahwahnee Meadow and Yosemite Valley. Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Visitor Center are also within 2 miles (3 km).
Situated in Yosemite Village, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Yosemite Mountaineering School and Yosemite Valley. Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Visitor Center are also within 2 miles (3 km).
Situated on the riverfront, this hotel is 2.5 mi (4 km) from Yosemite Arch Rock Gate Entrance and within 12 miles (20 km) of Yosemite Valley and Tunnel View. Bridalveil Fall and Cathedral Beach are also within 12 miles (20 km).
Situated in the mountains, this holiday home is 0.4 mi (0.6 km) from Yosemite National Park and 2.9 mi (4.7 km) from Sierra National Forest. Yosemite Valley and Badger Pass Ski Area are also within 9 miles (15 km).
Situated in a national park, this cabin is 2.8 mi (4.6 km) from Sierra National Forest and within 9 miles (15 km) of Yosemite Valley and Badger Pass Ski Area. Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall are also within 12 miles (20 km).
Situated in a rural location, this romantic cottage is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) from Yosemite National Park and 3.1 mi (4.9 km) from Sierra National Forest. Yosemite Valley and Badger Pass Ski Area are also within 9 miles (15 km).
Situated in Yosemite National Park, this cabin is 3 mi (4.8 km) from Sierra National Forest and within 9 miles (15 km) of Yosemite Valley and Badger Pass Ski Area. Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall are also within 12 miles (20 km).