6 Great Yosemite Picture Spots

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I’m going through some of my pictures from Yosemite and you can definitely tell there are some favorite spots I have in Yosemite. I’m going to go through my top 6 spots that I frequent. These are all spots that are easily accessible from the valley floor with minimal effort. So, without further ado, here are 6 great Yosemite picture spots.

1. Tunnel View

This is an iconic location for many photographers. It is the first full glimpse of Yosemite Valley when driving in from the South. It’s a great location for clearing storms, sunsets and stars. A camera and tripod are a must when venturing up to this iconic spot. Be prepared for a lot of company. Parking can sometimes be full as well, but if you are patient, it’s worth it.
Yosemite Tunnel View

Tunnel view is one of the great spots for pictures in Yosemite Valley.
It can sometimes be quite crowded at Tunnel View, but the views are worth it.

2. Valley View

This turnout is another iconic vantage point for the valley. You can get views of Bridal Veil, the Merced River, and El Capitan. Tours will briefly stop at this point, but overall, we have found it to be a quieter stopping point. It can be found on the left side of a right turn as you are heading towards the park exit on the valley loop. There is a small pullout parking lot right on the edge of the Merced River. It’s a great spot for evening shots of the valley with El Capitan in frame or Milky Way shots when it’s a clear evening.
Yosemite Valley View

Valley View is one of the great spots for pictures in Yosemite Valley.

3. Ahwahnee Meadow

This is always one of my favorite spots. It sits west of Yosemite Village, just past the tree line for the employee housing before you come to the tree line for the Ahwahnee hotel. It is sandwiched between Northside Drive and Ahwahnee Drive. There are great views of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome. It’s a spot I’ve ventured to many times for sunsets, storms, or even some night time Milky Way photos.
Ahwahnee Meadow

The view from the Ahwahnee Meadow is one of the great spots for pictures in Yosemite Valley.
The Milky Way over Half Dome from Ahwahnee Meadow

4. Stoneman Meadow

This location is great to grab a passing storm or to hang out for sunset, especially if you are camping in the valley or staying at Curry Village (now Half Dome Village). It’s a very similar view (although, more closed in) to the Ahwahnee Meadow’s view. But the close proximity to camping and Curry Village make it a great place to take some quick photos. The meadow is right across the street from the Curry Village parking lot. There are great views of Half Dome and North Dome as well as Glacier point.
Stoneman Meadow

The view from Stoneman Meadow  is one of the great spots for pictures in Yosemite Valley.
A passing thunderstorm over Half Dome from Stoneman Meadow

5. Cook’s Meadow

Cook’s Meadow is another great spot to go for a walk with a camera. It’s a great place if you are looking for an evening stroll. There is a nice 1 mile loop where you can take a nice stroll around with great views of Upper, Middle and Lower Yosemite falls. You can find the trail across the street from the Lower Yosemite Falls Visitor Bus stop or at the Sentinel Bridge parking lot and bus stop.
Cook’s Meadow

6. Glacier Point

And the best of our 6 great Yosemite picture spots for last. For sweeping views of the valley from the high country down past Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point is one of those stops that you have to see. You can either hike up from the valley floor on the 4-Mile trail (note: it’s longer than 4 miles and quite steep) or you can drive up (conditions permitting). It’s a great location for sunset photography or wide panoramas. I’ve taken some of my favorite pictures from up here. Be sure to explore the whole area up top. People tend to hang close to the observation area nearest the cliff face. But there are some incredible views elsewhere if you just take a look around.
Glacier Point

Glacier Point is one of the great spots for pictures in Yosemite Valley.
The main viewing platform on glacier point can get quite crowded
Glacier Point is one of the great spots for pictures in Yosemite Valley.
The clearing of a summer thunderstorm creates some dramatic light over Half Dome, Nevada Fall, Vernal Fall, and the high country of Yosemite.

You can be sure that there are plenty of other areas in the park that are fantastic photography locations, but these are a few of my favorite spontaneous spots. They are great for a guaranteed view of some fantastic landscapes. Let me know some of your favorite spots to check out in the park.

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