places to take photos of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park (with maps)

There are many locations to view and take pictures of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park,
many considered the “best” location to photograph Half Dome,
(a few with reflections of Half Dome in the river or a flooded meadow)

that you can

drive to,

take the free Yosemite Valley shuttle bus to,

take a tour bus to

or take a short walk

or, for a few locations, a long hike to.

At some locations you see the “classic” (front, western) face of Half Dome,

at others, you can see the north or south side (or even the backside).

30 locations to photograph Half Dome, (also known as South Dome) are described with photos at this webpage,
but you will discover there are many more.

A National Park Service road side display at a small parking lot has a map of seven locations:

multiple photos of Half Dome and a map

Here is the map on the display in a larger size:

map of Yosemite

The map above has locations listed by letters.

Details about each are below, followed by more locations not shown on the map at the display.

A) is from Olmstead Point on the Tioga Road, (closed in winter and sometimes well into the spring in years with lots of snowfall).

Half dome as seen from Olmstead Point
View from Olmstead Point without a telephoto:

Half Dome

Half Dome and clouds

Once you are near Tuolumne Meadows, even if you think you are running late, watch the map and the roadside markers for road marker T24 for Olmstead Point on the right. (Find Olmstead Point on this official park map.)

Pull into the big parking lot for at least a short stop to look around.

Stop and get out of the car for a look at a different angle at Half Dome than you may have seen, the wide expanse of Clouds Rest and down to Tenaya Lake in the other direction. With a telephoto (photo below) spotter scope or binoculars you can see people (the line of tiny dots in the center of the photo) going up the Half Dome cables.

granite dome with tiny people going up the side

Google maps 360 degree street view of the Half Dome cables from the subdome.

Google maps 360 degree street view from the top of Half Dome.

Below: photos of Tenaya Lake from Olmstead Point

and the view from Olmstead Point with Cloud’s Rest (left) and Half Dome (right)

Tenaya and domes from Olmstead Point: view from Olmstead Point with Cloud's Rest and Half Dome:

Much the same view of Clouds Rest and Half Dome can also be seen from the trail from May Lake to Mount Hoffman (with binoculars or a good telephoto you can see the hikers on the Half Dome cables),

Clouds Rest and Half Dome from Mt Hoffman:

B) is from Quarter Domes

view of the side of Half dome

See Quarter Domes in relation to Half Dome at this description: ( At the description photo you can see Half Dome, Mount Watkins, Tressider Peak, Clouds Rest, Kuna Crest, Fletcher Peak, Vogelsang Peak, Mount Watkins, Cathedral peak, Ahwiyah Point, Quarter Domes, Little Yosemite Valley and Tenaya Canyon)

C) is from the Panorama Trail above Yosemite valley.

view of back of Half Dome

half dome with clouds behind

D) is from Washburn Point on the Glacier Point Road.

view of the side of Half dome

Washburn Point is before Glacier Point on the Glacier Point road, see on this official park map.

and on the right hand side in this close up map of that part of the Glacier Point road

NPS map with roads, topography

In this panorama you can see Half Dome in about the center, Vernal and Nevada Falls to the right. Mount Watkins is just to the left of Half Dome, with Mirror Lake (out of view in this photo) below it. North Dome is further to the left, with the Ahwahnee (out of view in this photo) below it.

Yosemite mountains as seen from Washburn point

Some of the peaks visible in the panorama above can also be seen from Sentinel Dome, where you can see Half Dome, Mount Watkins, Tressider Peak, Clouds Rest, Kuna Crest, Fletcher Peak, Vogelsang Peak, Mount Watkins, Cathedral peak, Ahwiyah Point, Quarter Domes, and Little Yosemite Valley and Tenaya Canyon

and each of these is identified at:

E) is from Glacier Point at the end of the Glacier point road or the end of the Four Mile Trail. See Glacier Point and the the Glacier Point road on this official park map.

view of side of half dome

from Glacier Point, looking towards Half Dome, you can see (left to right) North Dome, Mt Hoffman, Basket Dome, Mt Watkins, Tenaya Canyon, Echo Peak, Clouds Rest, Half Dome, Vogelsang Peak, Bunnell Point, Mt Broderick, Mt Florence, Liberty Cap, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall and the mist trail, Mt Clark and Gray Peak.

At Glacier Point, with a telephoto, you can see hikers on top of Half Dome:

Granite dome with people standing on top

Nevada and Vernal Falls and the mist trail as well:

Half Dome and Nevada Falls from Glacier Point, courtesy of the National Park Service:

National Park Service photo of a rainbow over half dome

Half Dome and Nevada and Vernal Falls from Glacier Point, courtesy of the Library of Congress:

clouds and blue sky, mountain peaks

Half Dome from Glacier Point in winter, courtesy of the NPS:

snow covered peak

A Google street 360 degree view from Glacier Point down to Vernal and Nevada falls, and across to Half Dome.

At the Geology Hut:

small stone builidng

You can get a “framed” photo out the “window” of Half Dome and Nevada Fall:

half dome seen through opening in stone building

The Glacier Point hiking map includes drawings of and descriptions of trails to / around (easy) Glacier Point, Mc Gurk Meadow, (moderate) Dewey Point, Taft Point and the fissures, Sentinel Point, Taft Point / Sentinel Dome loop, (strenuous) Four Mile Trail, Panorama Trail, Mt Starr King View, Ostrander Lake and Pohono trails.

A National Geographic video of President Barack Obama’s 2016 visit includes segments taken from Glacier Point.

And see shots of Yosemite valley from Glacier Point.

There is limited parking at the Glacier Point parking lot:

parking lot from above


F) is the “classic” view of Half Dome from the Ahwahnee Meadow , a short walk from the Ahwahnee (briefly named the Majestic Yosemite Hotel) Hotel about half-way between stops 2 and 3 on the free Yosemite Valley shuttle bus.

classic view of Half dome

Half Dome with snow on Ahwahnee Meadow

and here with Royal Arch Cascade coming down the cliff on the left:
meadow and cliffs

G) is from Mirror Lake .

Half Dome from mirror lake

Half Dome above forest at edge of lake

All along the best trail to Mirror Lake there are glimpses of Half Dome, such as here just before crossing the Sugarpine Bridge, where you can take a panorama photo of Royal Arch Cascades (coming down the cliff on the left in the photo below) and Half Dome:

Half Dome and Royal Arch Cascade and bridge

Go beyond Mirror Lake on the Snow Creek trail for this Half Dome view:
Half dome almost fills the skyline

row of rocks carved into brick shapes

Other places,
not shown on the map at the start of this webpage,

NPS photo of Tunnel View (the massive rock form on the left is El Capitan, in the background in the center is Half Dome, the waterfall on the right is Bridalveil Fall:

NPS photo of Yosemite valley including El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Fall and a mass of clouds

This oil on canvas was painted by Andreas Roth in 1933:

painting of waterfall and mountains

This next photo is courtesy of Tom Ingram Photography, all rights reserved Tom Ingram photography

mountains and sky

This (1885 +/-) painting by Thomas Hill (photo courtesy of the Library of Congress) is a bit north of the photo above.

painting of Yosemite Valley cliffs, waterfall

And here, a 1945 drawing from United Airlines:

drawing of Yosemite valley view


Coming into Yosemite valley on Highway 41, just before the valley, about 7 miles after Wawona, you go through a long tunnel just above the valley floor.

Or you can get to Tunnel View from Yosemite Valley by driving on Northside drive until the Pohono Bridge, then making a left over the river and continuing until a right hand turn (almost U-turn) then up the Wawona Road towards Wawona and Glacier Point road,

(this almost u-turn is the same as you would take entering the valley on Highway 140 to go to Tunnel View) as in the map below

road map with Merced river

tunnel view NPS photo.: El Capitan on one side, Half Dome in the center and Bridalveil fall on the otherComing from highway 41, after going through the tunnel, slow down and put on your right blinker at the end of the tunnel and pull carefully into the small parking lot. Walk across the road (watch out for drivers watching the scenery and not seeing you) to the main viewpoint.

Coming from Yosemite Valley, (or via Highway 140) watch for the parking lot on the right before the tunnel.


The two parking lots, one on each side of the road, have a small number of parking spaces:

parking lots from above
This larger of the two parking lots has a bus parking only section:
tour bus stopped at viewpoint

people at edge of a parking lot with view beyond

This view is worth stopping for even if you are running late and even if there is rain or snow falling. The Yosemite Fund (now called the Yosemite Conservancy) and the National Park Service funded a remodel in 2008 with educational exhibits, expanded handicap accessible viewing area and improved traffic flow. Thousands of people stop each day in the summer.

Clouds might hide the full view of Half Dome when you arrive, but they usually clear quickly (and can add more drama to your photos):
clouds and peaks

Here, NPS photos of the Tunnel View before and after trees were cleared that had been blocking the view:

before and after view thru tunnel

and here, an end of the tunnel in winter (note the Do-Not-Pass-in-the-tunnel sign), and please do expect sometimes icy conditions in the parking lot.

icicles on tunnel entrance with Do Not Pass sign


The red X below is where Tunnel View is (the dotted line below the X is the tunnel:

simple map drawing

If you are going on Wawona Road to Glacier Point Road, Wawona, or the Mariposa Grove, a bit after you go through the tunnel, there are pullouts along the right side of the road where you can get a photo

mountains beyond road edge

much like this painting on the wall at the Yosemite Lodge Starbucks shows El Capitan and Half Dome
in seemingly close proximity to each other:

painting of bears and mountains


Webcam near Tunnel View located on a dome near the Wawona Tunnel:

More photos of the view from the parking lot at tunnel view:
photos below by Quang-Tuan Luong/
, all rights reserved.

QT Luong Yosemite valley from tunnel winter snow: QT Luong valley from tunnel view winter fog: QT Luong Yosemite Valley from tunnel view: terragalleria Yosemite valley winter glorious pink sunset: terragalleria photo of Yosemite valley winter glorious pink sunset

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From Sentinel Dome , (a 2.4 mile round trip hike from the Glacier Point road),
Half Dome and other peaks

you can also see Mount Watkins, Tressider Peak, Clouds Rest, Kuna Crest, Fletcher Peak, Vogelsang Peak, Mount Watkins, Cathedral peak, Ahwiyah Point, Quarter Domes, Little Yosemite Valley and Tenaya Canyon. Each of these is identified at:

A larger list of what you can see from Sentinel Dome includes, (not all of these are shown or identified in the photo mentioned above) Mt Hoffman, Mt Conness, Tenaya Canyon, Echo Peaks, Clouds rest, Half Dome, Vogelsang peak, Little Yosemite Valley, Mt Florence, Mt Lyell, Mt Clark, Gray peak, Mt Starr King, Red Peak, Merced Peak, Merced Pass, Gale Peak, Buena Vista Crest, Illilouette Ridge and Horse Ridge.

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Coming down to Yosemite Valley from Crane Flat on new Big Oak Flat road (the extension of Highway 120) on the right hand side, after the road to Foresta, but before the tunnels, there is a small parking lot with a view of El Capitan and Half Dome seemingly right next to each other

parking lot with Yosemite view beyond

El Capitan and Half Dome

This next NPS photo is from
Planning for a Changing Climate: Climate-Smart Planning and Management in the National Park Service.”

brilliant globe of sun with El Capitan and Half Dome

It is where you can find the park service display with locations of photo taking opportunities:

multiple photos of Half Dome and a map

Google maps 365 degree street view of this parking lot and the view.

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– – – At the Ahwahnee Hotel

For descriptions of rooms and suites at the hotel, including the Presidential suite balcony you can see in this photo, see this map

hotel in foreground, Half Dome in background

The N.P.S. Yosemite Merced River Plan includes restoring views at the Ahwahnee hotel that have been lost as trees grew.

“Many areas of the hotel were aligned to take full and dramatic effect of the scenery.”

Removing trees close in to buildings also provides a more defensible zone for firefighters in case of a local forest fire.

This tree removal work was mostly completed during the time in early 2023 when the hotel was closed for the start on earthquake retrofitting.


(Look for pages H24, H25, H26 at:

Below, two panoramas taken from the Ahwahnee Lawn, just outside the Great Lounge (also known as the Ahwahnee Lounge), which was the major view to be restored.

The first photo was taken in December 2022, and you could only see sunset gold glow on Half Dome through the forest at the edge of the cottages area. The second was taken in April 2023, after the trees were removed.

panorama photo

panorama photo

below, views of Half Dome from individual rooms or balconies at the Ahwahnee, see east side of the hotel ( on this map)


Read more at:
restoring views from rooms, balconies and public areas at the Ahwahnee Hotel.

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– – – You can also get just about the same photo as at the Ahwahnee meadow from Cook’s Meadow,

nps photo cook's meadow Jan 13 2010: national park service photo of cook's meadow in Yosemite valley with sparce snow taken on January 13 2010

Half Dome with gold and pink light

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– – – And at Camp Four , from the parking lot, this shot after a winter storm:Half Dome covered in snow

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– – – at a few Yosemite Valley campsites, this photo of Half Dome taken in Lower Pines Campground:

campsite in foreground, peak and forest behind

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at various places at Curry Village, including the ice rink:
ice skater Yosemite rink:

and the parking lot:

cars in parking lot with Half Dome beyond

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On the Four Mile Trail to Glacier point (see description of the trail near the end of this page)

Half Dome and forest

Half Dome and part of Yosemite valley
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– – – From the river, while rafting you will see Half Dome at various places:

just downriver from the rafting launch point at Stoneman Bridge:

Half Dome and river

farther along the river,

Half Dome and river buoys:

and along the river was where Joseph Pennell created this:

half dome in black and white

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– – – You may see people on Sentinel Bridge near sunset,
photographers standing in snow on a bridge with Half Dome in their photo

hoping to get a photo of Half Dome with pink or gold color, and if the water is flat enough, the reflection in the Merced River, as in the NPS photo below:

NPS photo of Half Dome with a reflection in river,

Half Dome and river

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– – Sugarpine Bridge
is along one route to Mirror Lake

At the west end of Sugarpine Bridge you can take a panorama photo of Royal Arch Cascades (coming down the cliff on the left in the photo below) and Half Dome:

Half Dome and Royal Arch Cascade and bridge
In the photo below, the Ahwahnee hotel is in the upper left, the Ahwahnee Bridge crosses the Merced River near the center and Sugarpine Bridge is to the right.

river, bridges and hotel

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– – – Little Yosemite Valley
Hiking along this trail, (or if you camp overnight at Little Yosemite Valley on this trail) you will have a view of the backside of Half Dome:
back of half dome with trees in foreground

and further up the trail from Little Yosemite Valley to Half Dome and the cables route up, here is a view from the trail:

side view of Half Dome

Yosemite Half Dome hike advice, photos, maps includes details about getting a permit to hike and climb up the Half Dome cables.

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– – – From Dinner Ledge on Washington Column

small tent and sleeping bags on cliff with Half Dome beyond

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– – – from Mount Watkins you can see the sub-dome and the cables route (upper left portion of Half Dome in the photo below)

mountian peaks

See Mount Watkins in relation to Half Dome at this photo:

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– – – From North Dome , as shown in this NPS photo with a insert of people on the top:

Half Dome from North Dome with inset of people on the top

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– – – From the trail to upper Yosemite Fall

rainbow below Half Dome

you can see upper Yosemite Fall and Half Dome:

upper Yosemite Falls and Half Dome from a trail

and can pose your group on Columbia Rock:

people sitting on a large rock with Half Dome in Background

and perhaps also take a photo from there after sunset on your way back down, the lights at the bottom of the photo are Yosemite Valley Lodge (photo by Aaron Genovia):

looking down on Yosemite valley

After ascending the Yosemite Falls trail, hikers can continue on to Eagle Peak, 12.6 miles (20.2 km) round trip, elevation gain: 3,770 feet (1150 m) in the direction of El Capitan. Here the view of Half Dome from the top of Eagle Peak:

rows of peaks

Hiking farther, the top of El Capitan is a total 15.4 mile (24.8 km) round trip, with 3,800 feet (1,160 m) elevation gain. Here the view of Half Dome from the top of El Capitan :

person sitting on El Capitan summit looking towards peaks beyond

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– – – From the base of the Half Dome cables just before you start to the top:

a tiny line of people going up a big rock face
Just before sunrise, people with headlamps going up the cables:

people with headlamps going up the side of Half Dome

Google maps street view from the top of Half Dome.

Below a 1939 NPS photo (by Ralph H. Anderson) of the original construction of the Half Dome cables:
workers on side of mountain

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– – – From the top of Half Dome (the man at the left is at the top edge, the “lip” of Half Dome):

NPS photo of the view from the top of Half Dome down to Yosemite valley:

person at top edge of Half Dome, and valley view beyond

And the view of the top:

top of a dome

These photos are from Yosemite Half Dome hike advice, photos, maps which includes details about getting a permit to hike to and climb up the Half Dome cables.

and here, at the top during a search and rescue:

helicopter at top of Half Dome

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– – – from an airplane

Three NPS aerial views of Half Dome (in each of these the cables side is not showing):

aerial view of Yosemite

view from airplane
close up view from airplane

line of bright yellow bubbles


Here, Half Dome with Mirror Lake below it, Vernal and Nevada Falls to the side:

drawing of mountain and waterfalls

You can see (and print) a full sized copy of this drawing at


At the old Yosemite Valley visitor center there was a display, showing Half Dome from above and the trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls (and on towards the top of Half Dome), on the right:

section of raised relief map

Find a full sized copy of this labeled map of geological data for Yosemite National Park (including many kinds of Granodiorite, diorite, granite) at:

simple map

Can’t make it to the Visitor Center or Exploration Center? You can buy a Half Dome tshirt, poster or art work online from the Yosemite Conservancy

a strip of Yosemite granite

The Yosemite Assn used to have a page of photo tips from photographer Michael Frye which included:

“November, December, and January are the best months to photograph Half Dome and El Capitan. From late afternoon until sunset, low-angle sunlight highlights the texture on the face of Half Dome. Late in the day, El Capitan is also flushed with warm light.”



You can see a trail in the lower left corner of the NPS photo below, but we are not sure exactly where this photo was taken:
bright sunlight near the top of El Capitan



a narrow band of sunset reflected on the water

Not the right light on your Yosemite trip to get the photo you wanted? You can buy a Half Dome or other Yosemite calendar, poster, art work (or t-shirt, hat, coffee mug, magnet, lapel pin) online from the Yosemite Conservancy

and see places to take photos of Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park (with maps)

Places to take photos of Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite National Park (with maps)

Places to take photos of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, (with maps)

Places to take photos of Staircase Falls in Yosemite National Park

stones forming a wall
Selfies can be great, OR dangerous. They were just taking a selfie.

Using a drone is illegal in Yosemite National park, including for photography. See an index of rules and regulations webpages.

Yosemite trail conditions info is at:

a narrow band of sunset clouds

The most current route map for the free Yosemite Valley shuttle bus is in the Yosemite Guide newspaper , which you will be offered a copy of as you enter the park, or can print in advance.

It looks something like this when there is no road construction, rock slides, excess snow affecting the times/routes:

(Map below courtesy of NPS)

map of Yosemite valley shuttle bus stops

Hiking Advice has HIKING SECRETS and etiquette including hiking in the heat, preventing and/or dealing with blisters, logistics of hiking, a day hike gear list, Half Dome hiking advice, winter hiking and the answer to the question: When is the best time of day to cross a mountain stream?

Backpacking advice includes details about getting a permit to hike and climb up the Half Dome cables.

Videos about Yosemite:

Yosemite webcams:

thin line of various colors of rocks

To hike to Glacier Point via the Four Mile trail

(4.8 miles one way, 3,200 foot elevation gain), not open at all or all the way in winter, “when partially closed, only the lower three miles (5 km) are open to the gate below Union Point.” There is very little parking at the trailhead,

parking lot from above


but you can use the Yosemite Falls day use parking lot at shuttle stop #7 and take a short walk across the river at Swinging Bridge and slightly south/west on the main road to the trailhead. (This could be faster than taking the shuttle bus to stop 11.)

map showing part of east Yosemite Valley

A Google street 360 degree view from Glacier Point down to Vernal and Nevada falls, and across to Half Dome.

topographical type map showing cliffs, trail, road

Read more at the park service page:

People who want to get a bus ride from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point and back to Yosemite Valley

OR a bus ride up to Glacier Point and hike back down the Four Mile trail or the trail past Illilouette, Nevada and Vernal Falls,

can do so in months when the Glacier Point road is open. The road has opened anywhere from April 14 to July 1, depending on snow pack. Book a ride on the Glacier Point tour, most years leaving 8:30 a.m. from the Lobby entrance to Yosemite Lodge,

This photo / map of the Four Mile trail from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point is on a display in front of the Yosemite Valley Exploration Center (free shuttle bus stop #5:

map with trails, topography

bear walking along fallen tree

The Yosemite National Park rangers would like you to call them
if you see a bear in Yosemite,
no matter where it is or what it is doing.

Since 2003 there has been a note in the Yosemite Guide: REPORT ALL BEAR SIGHTINGS! To report bear sightings, improper food storage, trash problems, and other bear-related problems, leave a message for the Bear Management team at: 1 (209) 372-0322. Your call can be made anonymously.”

bear with blue tag on ear
If you can, in all the excitement, try to notice if the bear has a tag (usually on the ear), the color of the tag and if possible, the number on it (the tag is large enough that with a telephoto lens you should be able to read the number).

bear with ear tag

From the Yosemite Daily Report newspaper:
“It is extremely important to remember to yell at bears that are in and around development, even if they are foraging on natural food. Though it is very tempting to get close for a picture, or just to watch these incredible animals, it is important not to give into this urge. Yelling at them if they are in residential areas or near people is critical to keep bears natural fear of humans. Giving bears plenty of space. When bears become too comfortable around people, they will often start causing damage to structures and vehicles, or will even become too bold around people, creating safety concerns.”

And the Yosemite Daily Report also said:
“Scare bears when you see them. . . in developed areas- Yell like you mean it!
Make as much noise as possible, try waving your arms, stomping your feet
or anything to make you look intimidating and to get the bear to run away.
We know it’s fun to see bears and it can feel mean to scare them,
but this is a simple way to truly help save a bear’s life.”

NPS bear tracks: bearlogo: from the Keep Bears Wild program NPS bear tracks:
See also an index to over a dozen park webpages with park laws, rules, regulations and policies.

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Drivers should note that there have been sections of road in Yosemite Valley, part of the year, with two lanes (usually) in the same direction, with the right lane ONLY for the free shuttle buses, ambulances, ski bus, commercial vehicles with ten or more passengers. The NPS says: “The bus lane ensures emergency vehicles can respond to incidents when traffic is backed up and provides preference for mass transit.”

Parking and traffic jams in Yosemite valley tips and tricks has the above advice, with maps of each of the three major day-use parking lots, with advice to help you NOT get a Yosemite National Park traffic or parking ticket, and not contribute to preventable traffic backups. And some details of where you can’t park in Yosemite, or can’t park without a permit.

sign that says camp 4 parking permit required 24 hours

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You can find basic to extravagant, (a few with a dress code),
casual, fast (grab and go)
or with table-side service,
indoor and outdoor food service

at multiple locations in Yosemite Valley, as well as four grocery stores

all of which are served by the Yosemite valley free shuttle bus.

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Hotel, cabin and tent cabin choices in Yosemite valley are at: Yosemite Valley accommodations


a map of and floor plans for the Ahwahnee cottages is at:
Yosemite Ahwahnee Hotel cottages, (bungalows / cabins) floor plans and map


swimming in Yosemite including thunderstorms, bacteria in the water, safety issues, favorite beaches, swimming pools with lifeguards, places in Yosemite you should not swim.

The Yosemite Conservancy offers free online art lessons, including “Color a Yosemite scene. Have you always wanted to see a purple Half Dome? Or a polka-dotted bear? Now’s your chance! Download park-themed coloring pages. . .”

includes a drawing of Half Dome and two bears (and more drawings) that you can download as a JPEG or PDF.


simple map drawing

You can download a copy of the Yosemite panorama above at: