El Capitan Photos – a 3,000ft Sheer Rock Face

Probably the 2nd most recognizable feature in Yosemite National Park, you’ll never forget the first time you lay eyes on this granite behemoth. Please enjoy these select El Capitan photos captured throughout the year.

Tourist vehicles parked along Southside Dr. - El Capitan Photos
Tour bus & cars parked along Southside Dr.

El Capitan Views

View From Southside Drive

Southside Drive View with RVs and tourist cars along road
View from the road

You get a stunning view when you suddenly break through the forest canopy on Southside Drive. Here you’ll find RVs and cars clogging up the road, trying to find a parking spot. With a view of El Capitan like this, who can blame them?

El Capitan View From Cathedral Beach

El Capitan view from Cathedral Beach Area
From Cathedral Beach Area

To be honest, I barely recognized the monolith when I first glanced up at it from this vantage point. It’s interesting how drastically different it looks from this angle.

View From Northside Drive

El Capitan Photos - Black and White from Northside Drive
Illuminated above the trees – Black and White

Northside Drive provides more standard (in a good way) views. Be sure to catch El Capitan in late afternoon sunlight, and preferably with some passing clouds to accent it. Makes for the best pictures, in my opinion.

Pacific Dogwood tree blooming below El Cap in early May
Dogwood blooms & El Cap above

Here I was lucky to capture the tip of El Capitan illuminated through patchy clouds. Add to this the Pacific Dogwood in full bloom below – it was quite a beautiful scene!

Merced River landscape, near Valley View Yosemite

Here’s a unique view along the river, it’s hidden off the beaten path a bit. I hope to return to this area for a picnic someday.

El Capitan Photos with Ribbon Fall

Skinny Ribbon Fall and El Capitan through trees
Skinny Ribbon Fall and El Capitan through trees

Speaking of which, if you’re willing to park your car and explore, you’ll find some great photo ops with (seasonal) Ribbon Fall and El Capitan in the same frame. Again, not too many people take the time to seek this combo out.

From Tunnel View (In B&W)

El Capitan December snow scene in B&W - Tunnel View
December scene in B&W – Tunnel View

Tunnel view is one of the best places to photograph El Capitan, as well as the iconic valley as a whole. The image above was shot after some winter snowfall.

Storm Clouds

Dark, menacing clouds over El Capitan - Black and White portrait
Dark, menacing clouds over El Capitan

A few weeks later, I photographed these moody storm clouds engulfing the granite face. This picture kind of reminds me of a “mushroom cloud” – You know, those old atomic bomb tests done in the desert. Can you see it?

Hanging Climber Lights (and Stars) at Night

If you’re lucky enough to be driving through the park on a moonless night in summer, you might see lantern lights hanging from the rock face.

Rock climbers camping on the side of El Capitan, with lantern lights and milky way stars
El Capitan and extra bright “stars”

This surreal sight actually consists of rock climbers hanging by ropes on the cliffside. They have tents and everything, and will continue their technical climbs when they wake up in the morning. How surreal to see their artificial lights glowing alongside the stars in the milky way!

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About My Photos

The images on this website are available for licensing and/or sale as framed prints. If you’d like to purchase them for a blog, news article, or gift, feel free to contact me with the specifics. This way you’re supporting photographers such as me directly (as opposed to buying from a faceless stock photo corporation).

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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.