10 Amazing Views in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is justifiably famous for amazing views. From Glacier Point to Olmsted Point to Tunnel View, Yosemite provides visitors with stunning, jaw-dropping scenery on a grand scale. Though these landscapes are shared again and again, they always captivate the viewer – there is never a “meh” moment with the most famous views in Yosemite. But what about the not-so-famous views? Or perhaps you have wished you could have the view all to yourself? In the list below, you’ll find the famous, the lesser-known and even some private views of the sights of Yosemite.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1.Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View
2. North Dome from Housekeeping Camp
3. Half Dome from Glacier Point (How to Visit in Winter)
4. Glacier Point from Curry Village
5. Half Dome from the Curry Village Ice Rink
6. Tenaya Lake from Tioga Road
7. Half Dome from The Ahwahnee hotel room
8. Yosemite Falls from The Mountain Room restaurant at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
9. Half Dome from Olmsted Point
10.Yosemite Falls from rafting the Merced River

Advertisements

Favorite Yosemite Spots: Tuolumne Meadows

Lembert Dome rises above the Tuolumne River, flowing northwest towards Hetch Hetchy and San Francisco. Photo by Kenny Karst.

Lembert Dome rises above the Tuolumne River, flowing northwest towards Hetch Hetchy and San Francisco. Photo by Kenny Karst.

An ongoing series, “Favorite Spots”, will feature the favorite places of Yosemite National Park community members and park visitors. Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite’s high country is a favorite spot of Kenny Karst, who lives and works in Yosemite Valley. “Of all of the special places there are to roam in Yosemite National Park, my favorite is Tuolumne Meadows.  On the north side of the meadow, the meandering flow of the Tuolumne River is perhaps one of the most peaceful places on earth, with abundant wildflowers in the spring, and visiting fauna throughout the year.  Tuolumne Meadows is also the home of special trailheads into the backcountry, including Elizabeth Lake, Cathedral Lakes, the High Sierra Camps north and south, and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne.  Yes, this meadow is magical.” Kenny often provides photos for the Yosemite DNC Instagram account (@yosemitednc) known as “Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk in Yosemite”. To view all of Kenny’s photos on Instagram, search hashtag #kennyslunchtimewalk or check out the Pinterest board, Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk in Yosemite.

The word “Tuolumne” often foils park visitors’ attempts at proper pronunciation on their first trip to Yosemite’s high country. Named after a tribe of Native Americans who lived on the banks of the Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers, these high alpine meadows received their current name by 1863. Today, Tuolumne Meadows is accessible via the Tioga Road in Yosemite for roughly six months of the year due to winter snow accumulation at such high altitude. At 8600 feet in elevation, Tuolumne Meadows offers a cool alternative to summer heat as well as views of some of Yosemite’s most famous peaks: Mount Dana, Cathedral Peak, and Mount Conness. This area of the park  is often cited as a favorite spot by park visitors, and services include lodging at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, camping at Tuolumne Meadows Campground, a visitor center and wilderness permit center as well as other services: Tuolumne Store and Grill, USPS Post Office, Tuolumne Meadows Stable for trail rides, an outpost of the Yosemite Mountaineering School and a gas station.

We’re collecting more pictures and stories about favorite Yosemite spots. Keep checking back for more.

Top 5 Things to Do in Tuolumne Meadows

Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park

Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Kenny Karst.

Tioga Road is open for the summer and the weather is fine in Yosemite National Park. With so many options to choose from, how do you decide where to go and what to do during your visit? Certainly any area of Yosemite can provide experiences filled with wonder, but one area in particular provides the opportunity for a summer filled with memories of the High Sierra: Tuolumne Meadows. Located on Tioga Road CA 120 at an altitude of 8000 feet, the Tuolumne Meadows area is inaccessible in winter when the road is closed. This limited accessibility creates a short but sweet summertime window of opportunity to visit high alpine meadows and streams, along with some of Yosemite’s highest peaks. Though services are available in Tuolumne Meadows, the High Sierra views are unobstructed.  In addition to camping and tent cabin lodging, Tuolumne Meadows has a visitor center, wilderness center, store, a grill restaurant, a gas station, a stable and an outpost of the Yosemite Mountaineering School. The following top five list of things to do in Tuolumne Meadows gives you an overview of this stunning slice of the Sierra Nevada in Yosemite.

1. Hiking: Tioga Road is littered with trailheads that can take you deep into Yosemite’s backcountry or offer simple sightseeing. Soda Springs and historic Parsons Memorial Lodge, Lembert Dome, Mount Dana, May Lake, Pothole Dome, the John Muir Trail, Cathedral Lakes, Twin Bridges, and Elizabeth Lake are among the hiking options in this area. These high-elevation hikes range from an afternoon stroll along the Tuolumne River to Twin Bridges to traversing the Sierra Nevada on the John Muir Trail.

2. Camping: Tent cabin lodging and family-style dining is provided at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge and the Yosemite High Sierra Camps. Traditional camping can be found at the national park system’s largest campground in Tuolumne Meadows. Camping allows you to experience the Yosemite landscape up close with opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, photography, fishing, swimming and more. But no matter where you lay your head in the High Sierra, the access to the night sky filled with stars will fill you with wonder.

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

3. Dining at Tuolumne Meadows Grill: Menu favorites include burgers & fries, veggie chili, breakfast, and ice cream cones. You won’t find a dining room at the rustic Tuolumne Meadows Grill, but you will find tasty take-out options after a long summer hike in the high country. Picnic tables are available outside the restaurant and store, where you can trade adventure stories with other hikers and climbers.

4. Photography: Tuolumne Meadows are beautiful alpine meadows riddled with wildflowers in the summer, Tenaya Lake is an easily accessible alpine lake with sand beaches made for summer swimming, Mount Dana provides amazing views of the Sierra Nevada at 13,000 feet of elevation, the Tuolumne River carries snow melt from the High Sierra to points below and the night sky is brilliant with exceptional opportunities for night sky photography.

TM Wildflowers

Tenaya Lake. Photo by Kenny Karst

Tenaya Lake. Photo by Kenny Karst

5. Trail Ride: Take a day trip on a mule at the Tuolumne Meadows Stable and visit Tuolumne View on the Young Lakes Trail, an ideal lookout point for Cathedral Range, Johnson Peak and Mammoth Peaks or take a half-day ride and visit Twin Bridges on the Tuolumne River just above Tuolumne Falls. If you can’t bear to leave the beauty behind, commit to an extended backcountry experience with a saddle pack trip to one of five High Sierra Camps (or take the 50 mile loop and visit them all!).

Sunrise High Sierra Camp

Sunrise High Sierra Camp

This article was published in the Yosemite in Focus newsletter for the month of June. Get stories about Yosemite delivered right to your email inbox every month by signing up here: Yosemite Newsletters.

Not All Bad News: The Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park

Though we think of wildfire in national parks as a bad thing, the fact is that positive opportunities also arise as a result of this natural process in wilderness ecosystems. For instance, Giant Sequoia trees use fire to propagate as the heat from fire causes their cones to open and drop seeds to create a new generation. A program in the state of California has inmates contributing to firefighting efforts, providing them with a chance to give back to society and perhaps learn a trade in order to craft a better future. And in Yosemite National Park, employees had the chance to rescue horses that were stuck in the fire evacuation zone with no transportation, providing a safe haven for non-humans impacted by wildfire. The Rim Fire that originated in Stanislaus National Forest on August 17 has since spread to Yosemite wilderness north and west of the Tioga Road and Highway 120. Though most of the park currently remains unaffected, road closures have affected the visitor experience. With the exception of White Wolf Lodge on Highway 120, all services and lodging remain open and available to park visitors in Yosemite Valley, Wawona and Tuolumne Meadows. Not only are visitors still enjoying their vacations to Yosemite, but horses from the Mather Saddle and Pack Station enjoyed some rest and relaxation too.

Stables JR and Kermit

Stables Manager J.R Gehres and Packer/Shoer Kermit Radoor take a break from doing good deeds.

“I got the call late Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning we were on our way with empty horse trailers and four stable hands to help rescue and transport 40 head of horse from the Mather Corrals, “ said J.R. Gehres, manager of the DNC Parks & Resorts stable operations in Yosemite.  The Mather Saddle and Pack Station is a family run stables that have been in operation since 1929, located just outside the Yosemite National Park boundary. The Rim Fire, currently the 5th largest wildfire in California history, was quickly approaching Mather Station and the owner, Jay Barnes, had been given notice to evacuate the area.  “Jay had no way to get the forty remaining horses out of the corrals and called us for help.  On the way, we came across fire officials and explained the situation; they gave us one hour to collect the horses and get out of there.”  The horses were brought to the Yosemite Valley stables where they were fed, watered, and put up in corrals until Barnes was able to relocate them a few days later.  “Horse people take care of one another, and the Barnes family has a long history with animal packing in Yosemite – how could we say no?” said J.R.  Joe Barnes, Jay’s father and original owner of the Mather Saddle and Pack Station, was a wrangler for Yosemite’s early concessions back in the 1930s.  Though the Rim Fire came very close to the Mather Station, burning the forest and meadow land nearby, the facilities were saved. “Jay Barnes was so grateful DNC was able to help him, he had no one to turn to and DNC came through,“ J.R. noted while packing up the last few horses for their trip home.

stables_horses

Guest horses from the Mather Saddle and Pack Station enjoying some hay at the Yosemite Valley Stables.

Thanks to Vicky McMichael for reporting on this story.

Favorite Yosemite Spots: Tenaya Lake

Photo by Kenny Karst

Photo by Kenny Karst

As part of an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite places of Yosemite community members and park visitors.Tenaya Lake in Yosemite’s high country is a favorite spot of Linda Eade, who lives in El Portal at the park’s west gate and has worked in Yosemite Valley for 42 years with 33 of those years as the Research Librarian for the National Park Service. “I’ve been asked this question many times and my response is always Tenaya Lake. Not only for the beauty of the area, but because every year I would take my girls [daughters Kelly and Ellen] to spend the day at the beach on Tenaya Lake just before they went back to school. It holds cherished end-of-summer memories for me.”Tenaya_Lake_beach

Tenaya Lake is one of the most accessible high alpine lakes in the Sierra Nevada, but that doesn’t prevent it from also being one of the most beautiful. This stunning location is often first glimpsed by the park visitor as they head east on the Tioga Road (Highway 120) toward Tuolumne Meadows. Vividly blue and nestled amongst pines and shining granite, Tenaya Lake beckons road weary travelers to keep exploring – and provides a cool place to swim on a hot summer day. Named after native Chief Tenaya, the east beach of Tenaya Lake is the focus of an extensive restoration project funded by the Yosemite Conservancy. The shoreline and wetlands will be restored, native Willows will be planted and access to the beach will be designed to protect this restoration.

Favorite Yosemite Spots: Gaylor Lakes Basin

gaylor_lake

Photo by Beth Pratt

As part of an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite places of Yosemite community members and park visitors. Gaylor Lakes Basin is a favorite spot of Beth Pratt, who lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in the town of Midpines and often works in Yosemite. Beth is the California director of the National Wildlife Federation and works to conserve and raise awareness about California’s native wildlife. “My annual rite of spring involves a hike to one of my favorite spots in Yosemite on the day Tioga Pass opens. In some years I am hiking through snow, but my first glimpse of Gaylor Lake from the ridge, whether iced over or shimmering blue, is like greeting an old friend. The Gaylor Lake basin contains Yosemite’s greatest hits: a beautiful subalpine basin filled with shimmering blue lakes surrounded by spectacular granite peaks. You don’t have to work too hard to access it as the trail leaves from Tioga Pass and in just over a mile you’re at the first lake. This is also my favorite hike in the park for wildlife. I just named it one of the top seven spots in the country for CNN – not because of the mega-fauna, but because of the pika and frog viewing opportunities, two critters I love. The rocky slopes near Gaylor Lake make ideal pika habitat and the threatened Yosemite toad sings his annual love song here each year—a melodious trilling that can be heard throughout the basin in spring.”

pika_gaylor_lake

Photo by Beth Pratt

gaylor_lake_frog

Photo by Beth Pratt

The Gaylor Lake Basin, just over the ridge from the east entrance to Yosemite National Park, contains five subalpine lakes: Upper, Middle and Lower Gaylor Lakes, along with Upper and Lower Granite Lakes. The Gaylor basin’s namesake memorializes park ranger Andrew Gaylor who served in Yosemite from 1907 to 1921 and died of a heart attack while on patrol at Merced Lake. It is also home to the long abandoned Great Sierra Mine and the cabins of those who mined here – a testament to the mining history of the Sierra Nevada. The hike to the basin affords a spectacular 360 degree view of the High Sierra including Gaylor Peak, Tioga Peak, Mount Dana, Mount Gibbs, Kuna Peak, Mammoth Peak and the Cathedral Range.

Favorite Yosemite Spots: Upper Cathedral Lake

fIMG_3811

Photo by Kristal Leonard

As part of an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite places of Yosemite community members and park visitors. Olmsted Point is a favorite spot of Kristal Leonard, who lives and works in Yosemite Valley. Kristal is also one of the Valley’s most prolific photographers, often spending time in the backcountry to capture the perfect Yosemite moment. You can see more of Kristal’s work at Kristal Leonard Photography.

“One of my favorite places in Yosemite National Park is Upper Cathedral Lake. This beautiful alpine lake, along with its companion Lower Cathedral Lake, is situated in the Yosemite high country at the base of Cathedral Peak. It is far enough from the road to seem remote but it’s easily accessible via a seven mile round trip hike. My husband and I planned an overnight trip to the upper lake in August last year. There was a 30% chance of thunderstorms that weekend, which was exciting for me as a photographer considering how beautiful the high country gets during or after a thunderstorm. After a 3.5 mile, moderately strenuous hike, we arrived at the lake and found a campsite away from the water but with an amazing view of the lake and surrounding peaks. The thunderstorm was clearing right before sunset so we were treated to beautiful clouds and reflections on the lake. After dark, another thunderstorm moved through the region, so I set my camera up for timed exposures to see if I could capture the lightning that was hitting the nearby and more distant peaks. The next morning, everything was so fresh from the recent rains. We stayed for breakfast and then packed up camp and hiked back to Tuolumne Meadows.”

fIMG_3850-Edit

Photo by Kristal Leonard

Cathedral Lakes is a favorite backcountry destination in Yosemite’s high country due to the relatively easy hike that takes you into the backcountry. Part of the John Muir Trail – the famous hiking trail that is part of the cross-continental Pacific Crest Trail – the trail to the Cathedral lakes takes you through classic Sierra Nevada alpine environment. Accessible only for a short time each summer when the Tioga Road is open, Upper Cathedral Lake sits at an elevation of 9,585 feet, while Lower Cathedral Lake just lives up to its name at 9,288 feet. Both lakes provide views of the steeple-like formations of Cathedral Peak. In 1869, John Muir climbed Cathedral Peak and wrote in My First Summer in the Sierra, “A mile or so to the westward there is a handsome lake, and the glacier-polished granite about it is shining so brightly it is not easy in some places to trace Front of Cathedral Peak the line between the rock and water, both shining alike.”

Tioga Road Opening May 7

The National Park Service made the announcement that we all wait for every spring. Tioga Road is officially scheduled to open to the public at noon on Monday, May 7! The less-than-average winter snowpack (~50% of normal) has melted quickly with the warmer temperatures allowing a relatively early opening. (You can read the official NPS release below)

Just don’t expect all of the facilities and services that Tuolumne has to offer quite yet. Vault toilets will be available in a few places along the road, but electric lines have been damaged over the winter. These will need to be repaired before electricity or other visitor services that you might expect to see during the summer months are available. We will let you know as soon as we find out when facilities like the Tuolumne Meadows Store, Grill, gas station etc. will open.

For so many, the opening of Tioga Road opens a route from the popular western regions of the park to the east side of the Sierra, and signals the beginning of easy access to the high country that has been buried under snow all winter. Suddenly we have access to miles of pristine trail for hikers and backpackers, sunny granite domes for rock climbers, many scenic vistas for photographers and a myriad of alpine lakes and rivers for fishermen (fisherpeople?). Do you have a favorite activity or particular reason to be excited about the road opening? Leave a comment below to share with us all what it is.

Continue reading

Tioga Road Closing for Predicted Storm

NPS announced today that Tioga Road will close at 7pm in anticipation of incoming winter weather. Glacier Point Road will remain open through the evening and will be reassessed in the morning to gauge whether or not driving has become hazardous.

This year Tioga Road stayed open later than any other year in its nearly 70-year history, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to enjoy the frozen high sierra lakes. Still, the forecasted snow is a blessing for skiers and other winter sports fans who are eager to hit the slopes at Badger Pass Ski Area this winter, and for those that hope to enjoy Yosemite’s spectacular snow-fed waterfalls this spring.

Weather is notoriously unpredictable in the mountains, so stay tuned for more weather updates. For the most up-to-date road conditions, including which roads are open or closed, call (209) 372-0200 and press 1 and then 1 again.