El Capitan

5 Reasons You Should Visit Yosemite National Park

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When I visited Yosemite, I was completely blown away by everything in the park. I wish everyone could see it and have the same experience.

So, I have decided to put together a list of reasons why you should visit Yosemite National Park!

I hope that one day you can travel there and have the same awe-inspiring experience I did!

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My Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Yosemite National Park

But first, a little bit of history!

Yosemite History

Established in 1890, Yosemite National Park was declared the third National Park in America and was of much importance to John Muir.

John Muir is often known as “the father of the National Parks” and once lived at the base of Yosemite Falls in a cabin he built.

How cool to visit a place where the “father of the National Parks” once lived!

Now each year, this park gives its 4 million visitors spectacular views, tons of hiking trails, and adventure-filled vacations.

Now on to the reasons why you should visit this special park…

#1 – El Capitan

El Capitan in Yosemite National Park: large granite monolith with tall trees in front

This 3,000-foot granite monolith, also known as “The Captain,” is a rock climber’s dream!

The face of El Capitan was first climbed in 1958 and took 47 days.

In 2017, Alex Honnold was the first person to free solo climb the face of El Capitan.

He used ZERO help, protective equipment, or harnesses, and managed to make it to the top in just under 4 hours!

Once you see El Capitan, you will understand how impressive that is!

There is a short, unmarked trail across from the El Capitan climbers viewing area that leads right up to this giant monolith. The picture below is looking up from the base of El Capitan.

The sheer size of this giant monolith is very humbling. Humans literally look like ants (when you can see them) climbing up the face of El Capitan.

El Capitan in Yosemite National Park: looking up at the large granite monolith against the blue sky

You can get to the top by rock climbing, or by hiking the 8.7-mile Old Big Oak Flat Road Trail to the North Rim Trail.

You can also access the El Capitan to Upper Yosemite Falls Trail, which is a 4.0-mile extension past the top of Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. (<—- click here to read about my hike up the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail!)

Related: The ULTIMATE Guide for How to Get There & Where to Stay Near Yosemite Valley

#2 – Yosemite Falls

The tallest waterfall in North America = a great reason to visit Yosemite National Park!

Upper & Lower Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park: two waterfalls among large green trees

Who doesn’t love the sound of waterfalls??

Yosemite National Park is home to the tallest waterfall on the continent!

Yosemite Falls is comprised of three parts, for a combined total of over a 2400-foot drop!

Many people don’t realize there are actually three parts to this waterfall.

The Middle Cascades area is between the upper and lower falls. It consists of five smaller falls and contributes to about 675 feet of the waterfall.

The lower part of the falls is about 320 feet in drop, and the upper falls is 1430 feet!

The photo above is from the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail. A bit off the trail actually. I was roaming around the creek trying to find a good place where I could photograph both waterfalls in the same frame.

To get even more spectacular views, you must hike the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail.

Even if you don’t make it to the top, the views from halfway up are amazing.

Around the Middle Cascades around you get this nice mist from the falls that helps cool you off. Click the link above to read more in-depth about this strenuous hike!

#2a) More Waterfalls:

There are several more fascinating waterfalls to see in Yosemite!

The very first waterfall you see when driving into the valley is Bridalveil Falls. Just before Wawona Road meets Southside Drive in the valley, there is a parking lot and the trailhead for Bridalveil Falls. This 0.4-mile stroll lets you get close up with the bottom of the waterfall. Be prepared to get wet!

Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite National Park: waterfall cascading over rock onto ground below

Vernal Falls & Nevada Falls can be accessed via the Mist Trail, one of Yosemite’s most popular hikes.

If you’re not up for this moderately strenuous hike, you can get a wonderful view of them from Glacier Point.

granite monoliths and rock mountains, two waterfalls, blue skies
Vernal and Nevada Falls from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park

If you think Upper Yosemite Falls is a long drop, make sure to check out Ribbon Falls. It is North America’s tallest single waterfall, coming in at around 1,610 feet!

There are a few more waterfalls in Yosemite, but the ones listed about are the most popular and easiest to view. Visit during late May or June to see the waterfalls at their best!

#3 – Half Dome

Half Dome is an enormous granite “dome” that is over 8,800 feet tall!

The trek to the top is upwards of 15 miles and is not advised to be a day-hike.

I don’t speak from experience because I have yet to climb Half Dome (bucket list!).

However, I have read from SEVERAL people that hiking to the base should be the goal one day, then climb up Half Dome the next day.

Hiking up from the base to the top is supposedly the equivalent of hiking 480 flights of stairs.

Only 300 people per day are allowed to hike up the cables to the top. Read this for more info!

Half Dome: large monolith against a blue sky with clouds
View of Half Dome from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park

If you’re not down for hiking Half Dome (totally understand, I am in NO shape to hike it either), then you can get great views of Half Dome from Glacier Point.

This is the same scenic viewpoint I mentioned earlier when talking about Vernal & Nevada Falls. Both of the previous two photos were taken from Glacier Point.

#4 – Scenic Views

Yosemite has scenic views like no other park I’ve been to (yet).

Almost everywhere I went, I was in awe of my surroundings.

Even if you aren’t into history and/or hiking in the park, the magnificent views alone are a great reason to visit Yosemite National Park.

Here are some of my favorite views from within the park:

Tunnel View

Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park. From this view, you can see El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, Three Brothers, and Half Dome.
Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park.

From this view, you can see El Capitan on the left. Bridalveil Falls is on the right, with Three Brothers right behind it.

Off in the distance, way far back in the center, you can see Half Dome. This was my favorite view during my whole Yosemite trip!

Top of Upper Yosemite Falls

Climbing to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls and looking out over the valley is one of the most rewarding views in Yosemite.

I could’ve stayed up here for hours just relaxing and looking off at the mountains in the distance.

beside a tree looking out onto mountains in the distance
View from the top of Upper Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park

Glacier Point

I referenced Glacier Point twice earlier in this post, but it’s worth mentioning again because it’s such a great viewpoint!

Driving to Glacier Point is the easiest way to get the view, especially if you are pressed for time.

Note that the road may be closed in winter & early spring due to snow and ice.

pine trees with mountains and blue skies in the distance
View from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park
granite monoliths and rock mountains, two waterfalls, blue skies
View of Half Dome, Vernal Falls, and Nevada Falls from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park

Related: 5 Reasons You Must Visit Pinnacles National Park!

#5 – Hiking Trails

Yosemite National Park has 800 miles of hiking trails for its visitors to walk along. These hikes range anywhere from day hikes to multi-day hikes, from easy and wheelchair accessible to strenuous and downright dangerous.

Make sure to research your hikes before you go! The signs at the trailheads do not state the difficulty of the trail. When I hiked Upper Yosemite Falls, I saw NUMEROUS unprepared hikers, hiking in tennis shoes and only carrying one bottle of water. I’m quite positive those hikers never made it to the top.

Wear good hiking boots (and good hiking socks!) if you plan to hike the moderate to strenuous trails. (My current favorite: Salomon Women’s X Ultra Prime boots and these Timberland Mt Maddsen Mid hiking boots).

That being said, there are many easy hikes around the valley, some are even paved. So whether you consider a flight of stairs a “hike” or could climb Half Dome without getting winded, there are hiking options for you!

Click here to read about the best hiking trails in Yosemite!

woman in pink shirt hiking among rocks on a trail
Upper Yosemite Falls Trail
tall redwoods surround a paved trail
Paved- Lower Yosemite Falls Trail
two women posing for a picture on a paved stone bridge over a flowing creek
Paved- Bridalveil Falls Trail in Yosemite National Park

I hope this post inspires and encourages you to visit Yosemite National Park for yourself! It is my favorite park (so far!) and I want everyone to be able to experience its wonder!

Don’t forget to check out my post about my two days in Yosemite National Park!

melissa of dogwoods & driftwood travel blog
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5 Reasons to Visit Yosemite National Park!

"5 reasons everyone should visit yosemite national park"

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