Yosemite Valley represents only one percent of the park area, but this is where most visitors arrive and stay. The Tunnel View is the first view of the Yosemite Valley for many visitors and is extensively photographed. The large viewpoint includes surrounding features, such as the southwest face of El Capitan on the left, Half Dome on axis, and Bridalveil Fall on the right.
For many arriving by road, this is the stunning first view, upon suddenly exiting the long and dark tunnel, of Yosemite Valley and its setting. A turn out with parking lot accommodates leaving vehicles behind and explore the surrounding area. The trailhead, for the hiking trail up and south to Inspiration Point, is located here.
Bridalveil Fall is one of the most prominent waterfalls in Yosemite Valley. The waterfall is 617-feet in height and flows year-round. The glaciers that carved Yosemite Valley left many hanging valleys that created the waterfalls that pour into the valley.
Over 800 miles of trails are available to explore, from a leisure stroll to challenging mountain hikes. Below a picture of one of the most popular trails leads to the summit of Half Dome and requires an advance permit.
Between late spring and early fall, much of the park can be accessed for multiple-day backpacking trips. All overnight trips into the back country require a wilderness permit and most require approved bear-resistant food storage. The black bears of Yosemite were once famous for breaking into parked cars to steal food. They were also an encouraged tourist sight for many years at the park’s garbage dumps, where bears congregated to eat park visitors’ garbage and tourists gathered to photograph the bears. Increasing encounters between bears and humans and increasing damage to property led to an aggressive campaign to discourage bears from relying on human food or interacting with people and their property.
Rock climbing in Yosemite has a huge following. Yosemite Valley is surrounded by famous summits like Half Dome and El Capitan. Camp 4, a walk-in campground in the Valley, was instrumental in the development of rock climbing.
Yosemite is open all year, although due to extreme storms, some roads and highways are closed during winter. Downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and several backcountry ski huts are available with prior reservation.
Yosemite is one of the largest and least fragmented habitat blocks in the Sierra Nevada, and the park supports a diversity of plants and animals. The park has an elevation range from 2.127 feet to 13,114 feet. Of California’s 7,000 plant species, about 50% occur in the Sierra Nevada and more than 20% are within Yosemite.
Yosemite, not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.
Check the tour availability from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park here.
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