Iconic Yosemite, Expert Guide
Available May 1 - October 31, 2021
Tenaya Lodge's expert local guide takes you on an exclusive tour of Yosemite Valley highlights. Our tour includes some of the famous features of Yosemite: Yosemite Valley including Tunnel View, Bridalveil Fall, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Valley View. On this tour, you will have time to explore Yosemite Valley on your own on foot and using the free shuttles.
This unforgettable tour starts and ends at Tenaya Lodge. A trail lunch is included.
Disclaimer: Yosemite National Park is open, and Tenaya Lodge is excited to be running tours to explore the Park! However, please be advised that buses may be running at full capacity. We will keep the convertible roof open as often as possible, and we are taking precautions to protect against transmission of COVID-19, but since 6 feet of social distancing is not possible on our tour buses, you will be touring at your own risk. Please be advised that masks or other face coverings will be required on all tours. If you or any member of your party is feeling ill or have come into contact with someone who is sick during the last 14 days, please let us know prior to your tour. Tenaya Lodge also offers private tours for your traveling family or group.
Custom tour buses ensure that you will ride in the utmost comfort. These buses open to the sky in good weather giving you an unobstructed view of the soaring cliffs of Yosemite Valley. But never fear! At higher speeds or on hot and cold days, the driver can fully enclose the bus to ensure that all riders are comfortable and still have broad views through the large glass windows in the sides and roof of the vehicle.
A Full Day of Yosemite Highlights
Here are some of the famous Yosemite sights you'll see on your day touring the park. Scroll down for details or click the links below to jump to a particular highlight
- Tunnel View
- Bridalveil Fall
- Cook's Meadow
- Yosemite Falls
- El Capitan Meadow
- Valley View
- Glacier Point
Tunnel View, also called Discovery View, is the gateway to Yosemite Valley. On a clear day, you exit Wawona Tunnel have all of Yosemite Valley suddenly revealed before you: massive El Capitan (3,000 feet tall) and Bridalveil Fall (617 feet) in the foreground, with views all the way to Half Dome, Cloud's Rest and beyond. On a cloudy day, the play of clouds on the landscape can make the view even more dramatic!
Fun fact: this viewpoint was designed to recreate the look from Inspiration Point on the old road, from which Thomas Ayres did the first known drawings of Yosemite Valley (it is often said his drawing was from Artist's Point further down the road, but the features in the drawing are not visible from that spot).
We'll take a brief stop closer to the base of Bridalveil Fall for excellent views of both the falls and El Capitan. Those who wish will have the opportunity to make the short walk to the base of Bridalveil Fall. In the spring, you can see Ribbon Falls, dropping 1,610 feet to the Valley floor.
Fun fact: The Ahwahneechee name for this waterfall was supposedly Pohono, meaning "foreboding wind," so-called because they believed they could hear the voices of their ancestors in the sound of the spray. In high spring flow, linger in this area and you can feel where the name comes from.
Cook's Meadow is the heart of the Village section of the Valley with spectacular views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and the surrounding cliffs.
Fun fact: In the early 1900s, this meadow was known for turning yellow every night in July as the Evening Primroses opened. This spectacular scene inspired some of the first ever color photographs, hand tinted by Arthur Pillsbury, a photographic pioneer with a studio in Yosemite Valley.
It's just a short, wheelchair-accessible walk from Cook's Meadow to the Lower Yosemite Falls viewing bridge. The ambiance here can range from a peaceful quiet in late summer when the falls may be reduced to a trickle, to a virtual storm of wind and spray off the falls in spring flow.
Fun fact: Look up at Yosemite Falls and the notch in the cliff that it flows through. It is said that during the 1955 flood, the second biggest ever, the creek entirely filled that notch.
El Capitan Meadow
Look up. Way up! El Capitan rises about 3,000 feet above you, almost a vertical kilometer. If you look closely, sometimes you can find the climbers on the face, which will really give you a sense of the scale. Look for a tiny bit of color in that vast face. You'll need sharp eyes or binoculars to spot them.
Fun fact: When Warren Harding wrote about his ground-breaking 1958 first ascent of El Capitan in the American Alpine Journal, he quipped: "I suppose this article could be titled 'The Conquest of El Capitan.' However, as I hammered in the last bolt and staggered over the rim, it was not at all clear to me who was conqueror and who was conquered: I do recall that El Cap seemed to be in much better condition than I was."
Valley View is one of the most-photographed sites in Yosemite, including the famous "Gates of the Valley" photo by Ansel Adams. Panoramic view of El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall.
Fun fact: This stop was once called Gates of the Valley, because back when the Valley roads allowed two-way traffic, this was the first real view of the Valley for visitors coming up the Merced River Canyon from El Portal.
The view from Glacier Point can take your breath away! If you're not afraid of heights, look over the railing and down the 3,200-foot drop to the floor of Yosemite Valley and across to Yosemite Falls. If heights are a challenge, then stand back a safe distance and look across the Merced River Canyon for one of the best views of Half Dome. With binoculars, you can sometimes see hikers on top or even climbers on the moderate Snake Dike route on the southwest shoulder of Half Dome. Glacier Point also gives you views down to the Giant's Staircase, comprised of Nevada Fall (600 feet) and Vernal Fall (300 feet).
Fun fact: for almost a century, workers would build a fire on top of Glacier Point and push the embers off at night to create the famous Firefall, featured in the 1954 movie The Caine Mutiny. The fire last fell on January 25, 1968. The large crowds who gathered to watch were destroying the meadows. In addition, since the 1920s, the Firefall had used exclusively red fir bark and by the 1960s, all the bark along the Glacier Point Road had been harvested and workers were driving out the Tioga Road to find more. Seeing this damage, the National Park Service ordered the event stopped.
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