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Glacier Point

See an eye-candy banquet of peaks and precipices

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The commanding vista from Glacier Point, a 7,214-foot/2,199-meter granite precipice that dramatically reaches out over Yosemite Valley, takes in the park’s most famous landmarks—Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Liberty Cap, Vernal and Nevada Falls, and the surrounding High Sierra. For many park visitors, it’s the single most I-gotta-take-a-picture spot in Yosemite. Getting to Glacier Point takes about an hour by car or bus from Yosemite Valley, or you can earn the view by hiking the strenuous-but-scenic Four-Mile Trail.

Glacier Point has an outdoor amphitheater for evening ranger talks, an imposing log cabin housing a snack stand and gift shop, and a small stone building known as the Geology Hut that was built in 1924 as a trailside museum. Now it’s a near-requirement for photo opps. The hut’s framed view of Half Dome, North Dome, and the Merced River canyon is unforgettable. Come here for sunset, when Half Dome blushes pink.

Along the road to Glacier Point are nearly a dozen trailheads for easy day-hikes. Families enjoy the easy Taft Point and Sentinel Dome trails, which begin at the same parking lot but head in opposite directions. Sentinel Dome, a granite dome at 8,122 feet/2,475 meters, offers a breathtaking perspective on Yosemite Falls as part of its 360-degree panorama. Taft Point’s view is completely different: a head-on look at El Capitan and a stomach-churning view of the Yosemite Valley floor, 3,500 feet/1,067 meters below. Hold on to the railing (and your kids!) while you peer over it.

Note that Glacier Point is closed by snow, typically November to early summer, but it’s a great route for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

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