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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
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
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. During the fall, you can easily see the Ahwahnee Hotel from this point. There are definitely better views of the Iconic Ahwahnee Hotel from further East. Especially if you take the bike path towards Mirror Lake.
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.
During the summer, the parking along the meadow fills up quickly. So a bike ride or shuttle bus ride make it much easier to get to the walking paths. From Upper Pines Campground, it is a short 5-10 minute walk.
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. As always, parking can be difficult during the busy summer months. Taking the bus is the easiest option, but a bike ride or long stroll are also options.
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 closed during winter). It’s a great location for sunset photography or wide panoramas.
From the main observation, deck you are graced with views of Yosemite Falls, Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite Village, Curry Village, the valley campgrounds and Half Dome along with numerous views of the High Country.
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.
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.
We normally visit each of these spots at least once per trip. They are easy to access and offer fantastic views and photo opportunities. Let me know some of your favorite spots to check out in the park.