Yosemite National Park was on my list for so long and I was finally able to cross it off my bucketlist. During my trip in August I was not able to see all the places I wanted and to do all the hikes I wanted which I why I will be back.
Summer is also not the best time to see the waterfalls in the park, since most of those are better right after the snow melts, so I would love to visit in spring. Nevertheless, Yosemite National Park was incredible in August as well and we had such a blast exploring this giant beautiful piece of heaven! In this blog post, I will list all the places we visited during our 3 day trip to Yosemite and will give you an overview of the best photography spots in Yosemite National Park.
Taft Point Hike
If you want to visit the famous Taft Point, you will need to hike there since the famous view point is not just on the side of the road. The hike is fairly easy though and mostly downhill for about 1 mile. On the way back you it is uphill though. Taft Point is completely unfenced except for a tiny section. The drop off is steep and it can get scary standing close to edge. You don’t have to stand close to the edge though and can enjoy the stunning views from a safer spot. There are several photo opportunities and it is hard to not get a good photo here. I heard the hike is incredible for sunset or sunrise, but we hiked it during the afternoon because we had other plans for the rest of the day and could not make sunset. Plus, it was very hazy because of the wildfires when we went and the view was not as clear. Taft point is without doubt one of the best photography spots in Yosemite National Park.
Sentinel Dome Hike
One of my other favorite photography spots in Yosemite National Park is the stunning viewpoints at Sentinel Dome. There are several hikes that lead to the Sentinel Dome but the fastest one is the Sentinel Dome trail and is about 1.1 miles long. It is a bit of a climb but totally worth the effort, because you will be rewarded with astonishing views of the valley! Once you reach the end of the trail you will see a rock to your left hand side and you will have to climb the rock. This is probably the steepest part, but not that hard to climb. Up on Sentinel Dome are plenty of incredible photo opportunities, so take your time and check out different angles! I loved that the views from Sentinel Dome are 360 degrees and you can see both Half Dome and El Capitan.The trailhead for Sentinel Dome is along the Glacier Point Road, which is about one hour drive from the Yosemite Valley.
The most iconic view of Yosemite National Park is hands down the Tunnel View. This view is also captured on the Welcome Sign at the Yosemite National Park entrance gate. Since there is no hike required to reach the Tunnel View and the view is literally right next to a parking lot, you can expect crowds throughout the whole day. But even with crowds, it is easy to get a shot without any other people in your photo. So don’t worry, there are plenty of angles that make it easy to get a nice and empty photograph. To avoid or minimize people, you can try coming for sunrise. Not only will you mostly like have the wonderful spot almost to yourself, but the colors will be epic as well.
Glacier Point (Half Dome Viewpoint)
Undoubtably, Glacier Point is the spot with the best panoramic view in all of Yosemite. There are a couple trails that start at Glacier Point and they all offer amazing views. One of the more strenuous hikes is Glacier Point to Yosemite Valley. There are two popular options to hike down to the valley: Four Mile Trail or the Panorama Trail. I have not hiked either of those, but hopefully will once I return to Yosemite Valley. The drive from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point is about 7 miles and the roads are very windy and narrow at some points. Be careful while driving and don’t speed. We saw 2 cubs and mama bear right next to the side of the road. There is a lot of wildlife in the National Park, so make sure to drive responsible and do not speed. Glacier Point gives you multiple amazing photography opportunities to capture the beauty of Yosemite National Park. We explored the area for quite a while and took some beautiful shots!
Glacier Point Curve
My favorite photography spot at Glacier Point was the curvy road right before you reach the parking lot. It is a busy road so if you plan to take photos there make sure be careful and watch out for cars. The road gets super busy during the day, so the best time to get a nice photo is early in the morning.
Glacier Point Trailside Museum
The Glacier Point Trailside Museum makes a great photo opportunity in Yosemite National Park. Make sure to stop by and snap a quick photo. I promise it is worth it!
Glacier Point Rock
The Glacier Point Rock is not the official name of the spot but you cant overlook this rock and trust me when I say it looks epic in photos with Half Dome in the background. It looks like you are standing on the edge of a cliff if you angle it right. Don’t worry, the spot is perfectly safe.
Lower Yosemite Falls (1 mile loop)
For an incredible experience of the Lower Yosemite Falls, hike the 1 mile loop trail to the falls. We actually even climbed the rocks to the waterfall and saw people swimming there. Since we did not have our swimsuits with us, we did not go for a swim. It looked super fun though and such great idea for a hot summer day. During the summer time most waterfalls in Yosemite have not much water which is why I want to visit again during spring!
Did you know that you can find Sequoia trees in Yosemite? You heard right, you don’t have to visit the Sequoia National Park to see the famous giant trees but can also experience them at Yosemite National Park. There are 3 areas and hikes you can do: Mariposa Grove, Tuolumne Grove Hike and Merced Grove
The Mariposa Grove is accessible from the south entrance of Yosemite National Park. On this trail you will find around 500 Sequoia trees! Hike the Big Trees Loop trail if you have limited time, otherwise, hike the 2 mile Grizzly Giant Loop trail. Tuolumne Grove can be entered at Tioga Pass Road and Big Oak Flat Road. The 2.5 mile roundtrip trail is home to around 30 mature Sequoias. This is also where you can find one dead Sequoia with the famous tunnel cut through its base. Once you stand underneath you will see how giant these trees really are. Merced Grove is the smallest Sequioa grove and is located further up Big Oak Flat Road on the way in or out of Yosemite. You can find about 20 Giant Sequoias here.
Cathedral Rocks East
Another epic photography location in Yosemite National Park where you can admire El Capitan and the gorgeous valley is Cathedral Rocks East. We stopped there in the morning and took a bunch of beautiful photos in the morning light!
Without a doubt, Yosemite National Park is one of the most scenic places in the United States. You can spend a couple days in the valley alone and just explore and stroll around the area. There a couple nice trails on wooden walkways like in the picture below. Again, it is tough to not take a nice pic over there!
How to get around?
There are tours that you can book going to Yosemite, but the best way to get around is by car. We rented a SUV, a Chevy Tahoe, and loved exploring the park with this car. Not only is the Chevy safe and spacious, but also a very reliable car.