5 Stunning Yosemite Valley Landmarks

While it’s always good to stretch your legs and get some hiking in, the main Yosemite Valley landmarks can be taken in during a scenic drive. Many can be seen from miles away…others, right along the main road. Here are photos of some of the most memorable attractions in the park.

Yosemite Valley Landmarks

Half Dome

Half Dome Creek Reflection, at Stoneman Meadow - Yosemite Valley Landmarks
Half Dome Creek Reflection, at Stoneman Meadow

Without a doubt, Half Dome is the most famous icon in Yosemite. This massive granite dome was sliced in half by a glacier many thousands of years ago. If you’re driving into the park on Highway 120, Half Dome is the first major attraction you’ll see from the road.

Merced River

Merced River boulders and rapids in summer, along El Portal Road
Rapids & boulders along the Merced River – El Portal Rd

Although many tourists drive along the Merced River without fully appreciating it, I believe it’s worth a closer look. It’s the main waterway flowing through the valley, and a great place to stop for a picnic (at Cathedral Beach, for example).

Bridalveil Fall

Bridalveil Fall flowing spring view, from turnout on Northside Drive
Bridalveil Fall spring view, from Northside Drive

It’s thrilling to drive around a corner and catch a glimpse of one of Yosemite’s majestic waterfalls for the first time. If you’re lucky enough to visit in April or May, you’ll see Bridalveil Fall at peak water flow, like in the photo above.

El Capitan

El Capitan Granite Mountain Face & Tourist Cars on Southside Drive - Yosemite Valley Landmarks
El Capitan & Tourist Cars on Southside Drive

Towering El Capitan is the most famous granite rock face in the world. As you might expect, it’s a big hit with rock climbers, many of which can be seen with a zoom lens (if you look carefully). Quite a few of these brave climbers even spend the night up there, hanging in tents attached to ropes!

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls View From Cook's Meadow, Flowing in May
Yosemite Falls View From Cook’s Meadow

Ah, Yosemite Falls. For sure, it’s the centerpiece of all park attractions. One of the tallest waterfalls in the world, it all but dries up by winter. If you want to visit the park during peak waterfall season, show up in late April or early May, during the first few warm days of spring. Views like this are really a treat.

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– Nathan Allen

About Me

Photographer Nathan Allen

I’m Nathan Allen, photographer / creator of YosemiteParkPhotos.com (Yosemite Photos) and international travel site I Dreamed Of This. In truth, I lived in San Francisco, New York, & Singapore…but nothing compares to life in the mountains. I share my experiences HERE.