Yosemite National Park is one of the most well-known parks in the United States — and possibly even the world. Its famed granite peaks and picturesque valley views make it incredibly photogenic. We’ve compiled a list of the best places to snap a classic Yosemite shot!
Photograph a magnificent view of Yosemite’s Half Dome from Glacier Point, which is accessible via a strenuous four-mile hike, or by bus or car (depending on the season). The south wall of Glacier Point reaches over 7,000 feet tall (2100 meters), and is the perfect location to catch a sunrise.
Get there 20 minutes prior to sunrise to photograph the changing sky and the first rays of light as they move across the top of Half Dome. Then, hike down from Glacier Point to photograph spectacular views of the valley below.
One of the most iconic views of Yosemite National Park can be accessed via a scenic overlook at the end of Wawona Tunnel, located on Wawona Road (or State Route 41). Gaze out over Yosemite — from here you can spot Bridalveil Fall, the valley, Half Dome, and even El Capitan. Try to visit early in the morning or early in the evening, when the rising or setting sun will create dreamy light and minimize the harsh shadows that will occur at midday.
For the best photos of El Capitan, take the El Capitan shuttle to the crossover stop, where you’ll disembark near El Capitan Meadow. This giant granite formation is photogenic at all times of the day, but if you head to the famed landmark around midday you’ll spot daring climbers scaling the face of the rock — so be sure to bring a telephoto lens to capture them in their element.
Photograph the meadow, and even get a few shots of Cathedral Rocks while you’re at it.
The largest waterfall in North America, the falls (comprised of upper and lower) are worth photographing. Water flow from the falls is most visible during the spring months due to melting snow. In their full glory, the falls are easily viewable from numerous locations in the park: around Yosemite Village and Yosemite Valley Lodge, or on the one-mile loop that leads to Lower Yosemite Fall.
Those up for a good climb can trek to the top of the falls for a different perspective. On the shuttle bus through Yosemite Village, drivers will point out a scenic view of the falls, framed by trees. Hop off and shoot to your heart’s content, making sure to utilize long exposure for photos of the flowing water.
The Merced River flows throughout the valley, providing water to the wildlife that lives there. It also serves a photographic purpose: it’s a prime reflector of Yosemite’s famed Half Dome. For beautiful double images, head to Sentinel Bridge to snap a shot of Half Dome and its watery twin from a distance. The bridge is popular for its magnificent views, so get there early to claim your spot to watch the sunrise.