NileGuide Expert Says:
If you only stop at one roadside pullout, this should be the one.
Wawona Rd, CA, United States
NileGuide Expert tip:
Sunset is often the best time for lighting this view.
Along Highway 41, just a mile above Yosemite Valley is this jaw-dropping view of the length of the Valley's deep chasm. Visitors entering the Valley from the south are regularly startled by this landscape as they pop out of the tunnel that descends toward the Valley floor - drive and walk defensively here. There are parking lots on either side of the road, and a steep trail takes hikers a mile up to a higher angle from the historic Inspiration Point. Interpretive signs explain what you're seeing, a wide platform protects pedestrians from traffic, and a brass sculpture of the Valley gives you some perspective on the view you're looking at.
El Capitan dominates the left side, the 600' Bridalveil Fall pours off of the right wall, and the top of Half Dome rises miles in the distance. The flat, forested floor of the Valley reveals no sign of human presence, and the rushing Merced River below fills the space from the edge. Shifting light, drifting clouds and the gentle wind remind you that you're not imagining this.
If you're coming in from Wawona, slow down in the tunnel, and carefully make the left turn as you emerge, watching for cross-traffic, pedestrians and other vehicles leaving the parking lot. Grab your camera and plan to stay a while to take it all in. This view has been immortalized in art, photography and the hearts of millions.