Yosemite Valley9035 Village Dr, Yosemite Valley
Seven miles long and one mile across at its widest, Yosemite Valley is a mélange of sheer granite cliffs, plunging waterfalls, and verdant meadows bisected by the clear Merced River. The Valley’s world-famous sites include Yosemite Falls—the tallest free-leaping waterfall in North America—which drops in a foaming torrent of three tiers totaling a prodigious 2,425 feet, or nearly a half-mile of vertical whitewater. There’s also iconic Half Dome, Yosemite’s most recognizable chunk of granite. With three smooth, rounded sides and one sheer vertical face, the dome’s bald pate appears as if it’s been sheared in half. The towering monolith of El Capitan rises 3,593 feet above the Valley floor as “the largest single piece of granite rock on earth,” an irresistible challenge to daredevil rock climbers. Yosemite Valley also has man-made majesty, as seen in the National Historic Landmark The Ahwahnee Hotel. This 1930s architectural gem is adorned with massive hand-stenciled timber beams, sandstone fireplaces, and intricate stained-glass windows.