yosemite

Top 5 Photography Spots in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of my favorite places to visit since it is absolutely beautiful in so many ways. From tall granite walls to the stunning waterfalls to the wide-open meadows full of wild life, there are endless photography opportunities.

Below are a few spots that I’ve photographed a few times and would definitely recommend for anyone visiting.


1. Tunnel View

Glacier point road in the morning

This spot is probably the most popular vantage point in Yosemite due to it being the first viewpoint within the valley, and super easily accessible since it’s right next to a parking lot. The only caveat is that this spot gets really busy during the day with tourists.

I highly recommend shooting here during the morning to avoid (as much as you can) the crowds and potentially catch rolling fog through the valley.

Sunset is a pretty great time to shoot this spot too, but expect it to be darker and I would recommend a tripod so you can stick around and get some light trails from the cars down in the valley.

In the summer, the Milky Way does line up here quite nicely as well so plan accordingly!

2. Glacier Point & Glacier Point Road

While almost a 2 hour drive from the valley floor, Glacier Point is one of my favorite spots to catch sunrise and morning light. The view from being high above the valley floor is second-to-none, being able to see the entiery of the valley and just how tall and massive the granite walls of Yosemite truly are.

Glacier point during a smokey morning Glacier point road in the morning Car driving driving glacier point

Along the drive to Glacier Point, there is a bend in the road that perfectly frames Half Dome that I enjoy shooting late mornings when the light hits. I would advise to be careful when shooting here since it is a pretty frequented road.

3. Valley View

Valley view at sunset

Valley View is an incredible spot that is similiar to Tunnel View but set lower in elevation and next to the Merced River.

Depending on the time of year, the Merced River can be entirely different. Early in the year, the river slowly picks up from the snow melt and in the summer, it is flowing fast.

It slows down when autumn comes around, so you can get some amazing reflections with fall colors.

In the winter, it starts to slow down again and gets icy cold.

4. Taft Point

Similiar to Glacier Point, but the trailhead to this spot is shortly before Glacier Point. This is a short hike, 2.2 miles round trip that takes you through some lush forests leading out to cliffs overlooking the Yosemite Valley below and El Capitan. I highly recommend this spot for sunset.

Taft point sunset

5. Sentinel Bridge

Another easy spot with a parking lot towards the east of the valley near the Visitor Center.

This spot is exceptional during the autumn and winter, when it either fills with golden leaves or fresh morning snow.

Sentinel bridge during autumn

Special Events

Firefall

During the second to last week of Feburary, when conditions line up, you can see the sunset lighting up Horsetail Fall, which is a seasonal waterfall that depends on water from snow melt.

Firefall at golden hour
Firefall from El Capitan Meadows Firefall at blue hour

Autumn

Winter

Winter is a magical time of the year in Yosemite National Park. It is a surreal sight to wake up to a fresh layer of snow covering the valley in the morning.

Winter in yosemite with three brothers in the distance Winter in yosemite with half dome in the distance

Conclusion

Yosemite is hands-down one of my favorite national parks. I’ve been countless times ever since I’ve gotten into photography and can’t wait to come back here to explore more!

If you would like to see more of my posts on places to shoot in California, check out my tag on California!


Updates:

  • September 23, 2021 - Initial Post
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