Best Photo Spots in Yosemite National Park
Share this post on Pinterest!
Yosemite National Park should be on your California bucket list. With its giant sequoia tree forests and granite cliffs, you’ll be amazed by the diversity and unbelievable views in this fabulous place. Whether you love all out camping or simply day hiking, there’s something for everyone to see in Yosemite.
Just about 4 hours from San Francisco, Yosemite is the perfect long weekend destination if you’re looking to get out of the city and explore California’s wilderness. Covering almost 750,000 acres, it’s impossible to fit everything in one short visit. We’re here to boil down the best photo spots in Yosemite National Park.
Prepare for jaw-dropping heights and breathtaking scenery that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. If you’re not an outdoor adventurer already, don’t be surprised if Yosemite ignites a new passion. While Yosemite Valley is completely overrun with people during the summer, you can still find peaceful areas if you’re willing to go beyond the typical tourist stops.
Follow along as we share our favorite spots to photograph in Yosemite!
With incredible views high above Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point cannot be missed. Along the windy road as you get the to the point, you’ll see a picture perfect view of Half Dome. Drive down to the parking lot and then hike your way back up to capture this one. Try to catch the views from Glacier Point at sunset or sunrise to avoid the crowds and be rewarded with dazzling colors.
2. Taft Point
If you’re looking for a great short hike away from the crowds, go out to Taft Point (2.2 miles round trip) just off the road up to Glacier Point. At the end, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world as you look down 3,500 feet below at Yosemite Valley and across to El Capitan.
Down in the Valley, you’ll inevitably find yourself at Lower Yosemite Fall. If you’re there during peak season, the spot will be crowded, but you can deceivingly cut everyone out by perching on top of a fallen tree.
5. Mirror Lake
As the snow melts in the spring and early summer, Mirror Lake fills up and a beautiful reflection of Mt. Watkins appears. Rent bikes in the Valley and follow the Tenaya Creek to the lake. Try visiting this spot at sunset.
6. Tenaya Lake
If you’re craving a little relaxation during your trip to Yosemite, spend a day on the Tenaya Lake beach. It’s usually open June - October and has the most magnificent mountain landscape across from the beach. The lake is about 40 miles from the heart of Yosemite Valley but the views are well worth it and as a bonus, you’ll experience less crowds!
7. North Dome
While half dome is often talked about as the most famous hiking spot in Yosemite, we recommend North Dome for the best photography. You don’t need a permit and the hike takes 4-6 hours (versus the 10-14 hour hiking time Half Dome requires). The majority of the hike takes you through lush Yosemite woods and as you reach the end of the hike at North Dome, a breathtaking view of Half Dome and Clouds Rest appears.
Have you ever seen a photo of a huge tree in California that a car can drive through?! Well, that’s a Sequoia tree and Tuolumne Grove is one of the best spots to see them. Tuolumne is only about 10 miles from Yosemite Valley and offers an easy, 2 hour hike on a smooth trail. While you can’t drive through any of the tress, you can walk through a standing Sequoia and crawl through a fallen one.
TBP Insider Tips
> Any time you’re planning to go to Yosemite, bring sunscreen and lots of bug spray.
> The best way to get around the Valley floor is by bike. You can rent bikes from the Majestic Yosemite Hotel or Half Dome Village.
> There are a number of campsites you can reserve in Yosemite as well as a lot of beautiful hotels. Here’s a list of the Yosemite campsites which is the most affordable option. Campsites are hard to come by though, so research when reservations open and book as soon as they become available. I stayed at Porcupine Flat but highly recommend trying to get a spot at Tuolumne Meadows if you can swing it.
> Morgan here. Since it was my first time in Yosemite, we chose to stay in Yosemite Valley. You will save many hours if you stay in the Valley because traffic entering and exiting the area can be painful during peak times. Dan and I booked more of a last minute trip, so there weren't many options. We ended up spending one night rustically glamping at Half Dome Village and splurged the second night to stay at the famous Majestic Yosemite Hotel. The last night, we stayed outside the park at The Blackberry Inn, which saved us about an hour drive back home.
> If you’d rather stay in a hotel, you can use the search bar below to find the perfect place!
> You most likely won’t have service while in Yosemite, so buy a real map of Yosemite National Park before your trip.
> There are restaurants and food markets in Yosemite Valley, but since I (this is Amanda, btw :) camped during my time, I bought all of our food in advance. Check out my post on Pinnacles National Park for my favorite campfire recipe.
> You'll need good hiking books for your trip to Yosemite. I struggled trying to find a pair I liked but fell in love with these Ahnu Women's hiking boots. They're not only comfortable but also a lot more attractive than most hiking boots!