Sensational Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California, USA.
Tunnel View from Wawona Mountain provides the first expansive vista into spectacular Yosemite Valley driving east on Wawona Road from Oakhurst, California, into Yosemite Valley on the swing past Bridalveil Falls and east onto Southside Drive.
Yosemite Valley is an incredibly beautiful place with a flat, fertile valley floor surrounded by majestic cliffs and breathtaking waterfalls.
For a wilderness experience, Yosemite Valley is NOT the place to be, although there are many trail-heads originating from the valley which potentially lead to wilderness.
In mid-September, the valley roads are extremely busy with cars, bikes and motorized wheelchairs darting unpredictably into dangerous locations as drivers focus on the spectacular surrounding landscapes. It is a frantic place.
There is an efficient and free shuttle system with stops throughout the valley. Time taken to study and learn about Yosemite Valley public transportation prior to visiting is a valuable investment and a price is paid for that unfortunate oversight.
After several harrowing, fragmented trips in, out and through the valley the layout becomes more familiar and gradually increases exploration pleasure and efficiency but lack of preparation costs us significant wasted time and footsteps.
The main route into Yosemite Valley is one-way Southside Drive. Northside Drive travels one-way out of Yosemite Valley.
Mid-way along eastbound Southside Drive is a pullout called Swinging Bridge which accesses the non-swinging bridge unlike the swinging, Swinging Bridge at Winona.
A short trail leads to a sturdy stone bridge spanning the Merced River. Views are spectacular. Perhaps this was once the location of a swinging bridge and the name stuck.
The appearance of peace and calm is deceiving. The area is crawling with tourists and many photographs require patiently waiting for a brief, unobstructed view.
Towards the east end of Southside Drive in Yosemite Valley loop, major parking close to Yosemite Village provides an excellent opportunity to park and tour Yosemite Village on foot.
Yosemite Village contains a collection of important and historic buildings for hosting millions of Yosemite National Park visitors annually. The Ansel Adams Gallery features many of his images from the American Southwest.
One of the most significant features on the north side of Yosemite Valley is the world-renowned rock climbing face of 7,569 ft (2,307 m) El Capitan, a busy area where hundreds of visitors are visually fixed on the 3,000+ ft (914.4+ m) vertical rock face as they watch mere specks of climbers inching their way to the top on a multiple day climb.
There are two plaques in Yosemite National Park which are several miles apart.
Collectively they tell the geological history of the creation of Yosemite Valley over hundreds of thousands of years. Massive glaciers created the alluvial plain which harbors Merced River within towering granite walls.
Water from the High Sierra feeds the spectacular waterfalls year round. The two plaques would do well shown together.
Along Northside Drive on the one-way out of Yosemite Valley there is a parking area where views of the Merced River, flowing peacefully today, are uniquely and overwhelmingly beautiful.
A few years prior, the location was temporarily beneath deep flood water.
While attending this spellbinding, beautiful place, a Yosemite Valley interpretive tour wagon stops.
This service, similar to the one at Mariposa Grove, provides transportation for those needing it with the added benefit of learning more about Yosemite National Park in California, USA.
The photos in this post were collected over several days and represent a small fraction of the breathtaking sights within Yosemite Valley. It is estimated 80% of the people who visit Yosemite National Park spend their entire visit in Yosemite Valley.
There is so much to see, several weeks could easily be consumed. It is understandable and unfortunate.
Several additional weeks could easily be consumed without ever entering the valley.
Some of the best opportunities reside outside the Valley. Massive Curry Village combined with Upper, Lower and North Pines Campgrounds provide more rustic accommodation at the east end of Yosemite Valley.
More luxurious accommodation, within Yosemite Valley, is available at Yosemite Lodge and the world-famous Ahwahnee.