20 Awesome Yosemite Photography Spots You Should Not Miss

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Yosemite National Park is an absolute dream for photography enthusiasts but the scope of the park can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Take the guesswork out of where to spend your time by adding our top Yosemite photography spots to your itinerary.

We visited Yosemite National Park as part of a 9 Day Northern California Trip with Globus Journeys.

Despite the common misconception that you cannot take great photos while on a group tour, we captured several beautiful images of Yosemite National Park. We even took a private photography tour with the Ansel Adams Gallery as part of the new Globus Choice Touring options.

Whether you’re hiking, driving, or on tour, Yosemite National Park will sweep you into bliss with its heavenly and Instagram-worthy views. Trust me, it’s hard to take a bad photograph in this scenic and surreal adventure playground.


20 Best Yosemite Photography Spots


In Yosemite Valley


1. Tunnel View 

Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park
Main Tunnel View platform (late-afternoon)

Very few Yosemite photography spots are as popular and mainstream as this viewpoint. In fact, it’s arguably the most well-known viewpoint in this national park. 

From this viewpoint, hikers and photographers may indulge in an iconic and postcard-worthy view of Bridalveil Falls, Half Dome, El Capitan, and the whole valley. 

The best time to visit the viewpoint is at sunset when shadows from the walls of the valley are minimal. Not to mention, Half Dome and El Capitan shine in a striking light at sunset. 

Sunrise is a fantastic time to visit the Tunnel View too since it has limited shadows, thinner crowds and offers an opportunity to snap fog that rolls into the valley. 

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Year round
  • Best time for photography: Sunrise or sunset
  • Hike difficulty: Easy 
  • Location of the spot: Yosemite Valley 

2. Inspiration Point 

View from Inspiration Point in Yosemite National Park
Tunnel View from Inspiration Point (morning)

If you’re on the hunt for a less crowded alternative to Tunnel View, look no further than Inspiration Point.

With an elevation gain of around 1,000 feet, getting to Inspiration Point can be quite a challenge, especially if you’re carrying heavy photography equipment. 

But, it’s totally worth the effort. Besides the pleasant views, the vantage point also is free from the sea of tourists, making photography a breeze here. 

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: All Year (hard to hike in the winter months)
  • Best time for photography: Sunset
  • Hike difficulty: Moderate 
  • Location of the spot: Yosemite Valley 

3. El Capitan

Rock climbers on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park
Climbers on El Cap – taken with a 100-400mm lens (later-afternoon)

El Capitan is a mecca for rock climbing in America. Every year, hardcore climbers come to El Cap to conquer and complete this perilous climb. But, you don’t have to be a hardcore climber to enjoy this famed landmark in Yosemite National Park. 

For photographers, you may snap a photo of this sheer and iconic granite rock face from El Capitan Meadow. This meadow sits directly across from the rock and is a golden brown in winter and fall and a lush green in summer and spring. 

With a telephoto lens, it is possible to locate and snap photos of the rock climbers on El Capitan. 

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Year round 
  • Best time for photography: Evening or afternoon 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy  
  • Location of the spot: Yosemite Valley 

4. Cook’s Meadow

David Stock hiking across Cook's Meadow - Yosemite Photography spots
Hiking across Cook’s Meadow (afternoon)

Cook’s Meadow is home to some of the most fascinating Yosemite photography spots. In summer and spring, this meadow is lush and alluring in green. In fall, this meadow turns into a mesmerizing shade of brown. 

Even better, the meadow offers views of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. On top of it all, you’ll likely spot some wildlife grazing peacefully in the meadow. 

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Between spring and fall  
  • Best time for photography: Late afternoon 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy  
  • Location of the spot: Yosemite Valley 

5. Bridalveil Falls

Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite National Park
Bridalveil ‘Fire’ Falls

Bridalveil Falls is one of the most visually captivating Yosemite Photography spots. And, you can see this natural wonder from a variety of spots within the national park, including Tunnel View. 

Unlike some of the park’s waterfalls, there’s water flowing throughout the year here. Spring, however, is the best and most impressive time to see this cascade. 

During our visit in the fall, there was so little water that the falls were but a gentle mist. If you want heavy water, plan a visit in May.

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Spring 
  • Best time for photography: Late afternoon 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy    
  • Location of the spot: Yosemite Valley 

6. Half Dome

Half Dome seen from Yosemite Valley
Half Dome as seen from Yosemite Valley (late-afternoon)

Half Dome is one of the most renowned and iconic Yosemite photo spots. Most hikers opt to take the journey to the summit every year on a tough and strenuous hike. But, this landmark is, to me, best photographed from a little further away. 

A great spot to enjoy an unobstructed view of Half Dome is from the beautiful meadow alongside Northside Drive. You can also get fantastic views from Olmstead Point and Glacier Point.

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: All year
  • Best time for photography: Before sunset  
  • Hike difficulty: Easy    
  • Location of the spot: Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Olmstead Point 

7. Mirror Lake 

Mirror Lake in Yosemite, California
Mirror Lake in the early summer (morning)

In spring, the snow melts across the park and flows down wonderfully from the High Sierras. Then, this water is collected in full and gorgeous, sparkling lakes, like Mirror Lake. To me, this view is an absolute must in summer and spring. 

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Between spring and summer 
  • Best time for photography: Early morning
  • Hike difficulty: Easy    
  • Location of the spot: Yosemite Valley 

8. Valley View 

Valley View in Yosemite National Park
Stunning Valley View (early-evening)

Valley View lures photographers with serene views of both the Merced River and El Capitan. At sunset, the valley wows visitors with the unique lighting on the famed El Capitan.

Winter is also a fabulous time to see Valley View when its trees and meadows are covered in snow. 

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: All year 
  • Best time for photography: Sunset 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy    
  • Location of the spot: Yosemite Valley 

9. Sentinel Bridge

View of Merced River, Senitinel Bridge and Half Dome - Yosemite photography spots
View of Sentinel Bridge & Half Dome (Late September; mid-morning)

It is from the historic Sentinel Bridge that you will have a chance to photograph the coveted Half Dome reflection in the Merced River.

To do this takes perfect timing, as the water must be both low and still in order to see a reflection. This is typically in the fall months. When the water is low you can also walk down to the riverside for better perspectives.

Even if your visit isn’t timed right for the reflection, this is one of the most beautiful places to frame Half Dome within Yosemite National Park.

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Fall for reflections 
  • Best time for photography: Anytime
  • Hike difficulty: Easy    
  • Location of the spot: Yosemite Valley

10. Yosemite Chapel

Yosemite Chapel
Front of Yosemite Chapel (early-afternoon)

The Yosemite Chapel sits on the valley floor surrounded by towering rock, grassy meadows, waterfalls, and trees. This makes it a playground for creativity and you shouldn’t miss it.

At 130 years old, it also offers beautiful and unique architecture sat against stark natural contrast. It’s also all that remains of the old Yosemite Village that resided on the valley floor.

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: All year
  • Best time for photography: Anytime
  • Hike difficulty: Easy    
  • Location of the spot: Yosemite Valley

11. Merced River

Merced River in Yosemite Valley
Merced River with low water (late September; mid-afternoon)

The Merced River is the main water vein of Yosemite National Park and demands the center presence in Yosemite Valley. It’s hard to visit this park without seeing this river.

It’s possible to see the river along the entire valley, meaning it offers many vantage points to create beautiful and unique photography of Yosemite.

Some of our favorite places to incorporate the river into the photos were Sentinel Bridge, Swinging Bridge, Cooks Meadow, and Valley View.

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: All year
  • Best time for photography: Anytime
  • Hike difficulty: Easy    
  • Location of the spot: Yosemite Valley

In Wawona


12. Mariposa Grove 

Mariposa Grove Cabin in Yosemite National Park
Mariposa Grove Cabin (mid-morning)

Think Yosemite is all about granite rocks and majestic waterfalls? Well, guess what? Yosemite is home to some of the world’s oldest and largest trees too.

At Mariposa Grove, you’ll find several towering Giant Sequoia trees, with some of them over 2,000 years old. Of all the hiking we did in Yosemite, this was our favorite place.

The photography opportunities are endless, especially if you go in the early morning when the light is peaking through the trees. Plan a solid half-day here so you have time to visit the Upper Grove, where many of the most impressive trees reside.

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Between spring and fall  
  • Best time for photography: Early morning 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy    
  • Location of the spot: Wawona  

13. Wawona Covered Bridge

Wawona Covered Bridge in Yosemite National Park
Historic Wawona Covered Bridge (mid-afternoon)

The Wawona Covered Bridge was constructed in 1868 and marks the original entrance to Yosemite National Park. It crosses the Merced River among a beautiful pine forest, making it a great place to grab some photos.

The Pioneer Yosemite History Center is also located here. It offers an open-air museum with old settler items that give you varying composition options against the backdrop of the bridge.

At certain times of the year, they also do traditional horse-drawn wagon rides that cross over the bridge. If you time this right, you’ll get very cool historical-themed photos that are unique to Yosemite.

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: All year  
  • Best time for photography: Afternoon 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy    
  • Location of the spot: Wawona  

Along Tioga Pass Road


14. Tenaya Lake

Lina Stock sitting on a log at Tenaya Lake in Yosemite
Taking in the views at Tenaya Lake (mid-morning)

Tenaya Lake is one of the most accessible lakes in Yosemite National Park. Surprisingly, though, it is located in one of the lesser-visited areas near the Tioga Pass entrance.

Don’t let this deter you as it is the jewel of Yosemite’s high country alpine lakes. The lake offers a large surface area with long beaches and a spectacular backdrop. Simply stated, it’s worth the journey to this part of the park.

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Between late spring and mid-fall 
  • Best time for photography: Morning or evening 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy    
  • Location of the spot: Tioga Pass Road 

15. Tuolumne Meadows

Woman walking in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite
Tuolumne Meadows on a hazy day (afternoon)

Tuolumne Meadows is an underrated attraction that should be on your list of the best Yosemite photography spots. While not as popular as the spots in Yellowstone valley, this meadow will enthrall you with its clear alpine lakes and grassy fields. 

With an elevation of 8,600 feet above sea level, you’ll be surrounded by jaw-dropping views. It’s also a great place to view and photograph wildlife.To get the best photos in this area, we recommend camping out for a couple nights in the nearby campground.

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Between late spring and mid-fall 
  • Best time for photography: Sunset 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy    
  • Location of the spot: Tioga Pass Road 

16. Olmsted Point 

David Stock at Olmstead Point in Yosemite
Olmstead Point view over Tenaya Lake (mid-morning)

Not in the mood for a hike? Why not take a drive up to Olmsted Point? From here, you may admire Half Dome wonderfully framed by the expansive High Sierras.  

When the sun starts to set, the sky from this vantage point comes alive with colors, highlighting the vista of Tenaya Lake in one direction and Half Dome in the other.

To be honest, this is one of our absolute favorite viewpoints in the park. Make sure to take the trail that leads you into the woods and onto a massive rock for unobstructed views in both directions. 

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Between late spring and mid-fall 
  • Best time for photography: Anytime – offers good sunrise & sunset 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy    
  • Location of the spot: Tioga Pass Road 

Along Glacier Point Road


17. Taft Point

Taft Point in Yosemite at sunset
Taft Point at sunset

Taft Point is, no doubt, one of the best Yosemite photography spots for sunset. Situated west of Glacier Point, this attraction stuns photographers with wide panoramic views of El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and Yosemite Valley. 

What’s more, it features giant fissures that surely make eye-catching travel snaps. At sunset, you’ll see the blue sky turning to bright orange and purple, highlighting the valley’s granite rock faces. 

Since it’s a popular spot, we recommend arriving at least an hour before sunset. And, don’t forget to bring a headlamp, as you’ll be hiking in the dark after photographing the vantage point at sunset. 

Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Between late spring and mid-fall 
  • Best time for photography: Sunset 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy 
  • Location of the spot: Glacier Point Road 

18. Sentinel Dome 

View from Sentinel Dome in Yosemite
View from Sentinel Dome (morning)

Sentinel Dome rewards hikers and photographers with some of the best vistas in Yosemite National Park. As you stand at the summit of the dome, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking, 360-degree view of Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, and Half Dome. 

The best time to visit and take a photo from Sentinel Dome is at golden hour or sunset. The golden hues that paint the valley create a striking and dreamy light. 

 Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Between late spring and mid-fall 
  • Best time for photography: Sunset 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy 
  • Location of the spot: Glacier Point Road 

19. Glacier Point Road Switchback

Adding a person for scale (late-afternoon)

Arguably one of the most famous spots in Yosemite is the Glacier Point switchback. This is the place where the road does a switchback before arriving at the parking lot for Glacier Point.

At the fold is an open vista to Half Dome that is framed by trees. This spot has been shown numerous times on Instagram.

It’s worth noting that there is no parking at the corner and you are not allowed to pull off on the shoulder. It is narrow and there is no room.

So if you want to photograph this spot, drive all the way to the Glacier Point parking lot and then walk backup the road.

 Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Between late spring and mid-fall 
  • Best time for photography: Afternoon
  • Hike difficulty: Easy 
  • Location of the spot: Glacier Point Road 

20. Glacier Point 

David Stock at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park
Glacier Point (late-afternoon)

No list of the best Yosemite photography spots is complete without Glacier Point. At this vantage, photographers and Instagrammers may snap photos that beautifully overlook the High Sierras, Half Dome, and Yosemite Valley. 

To get to this vantage, you may either hike the Four Mile Trail or drive your way up. For photographers, I suggest that you take the drive instead of the hike.

Not only is it the easier and more convenient option, but the scenic drive is also filled with incredible sights and views. 

Once at the top, put on your walking shoes and head towards the main viewing area. On your way back, deviate on some of the trails for different vantage points.

 Photography tips:

  • Best season for photography: Between late spring and mid-fall 
  • Best time for photography: Sunrise or sunset
  • Hike difficulty: Easy 
  • Location of the spot: Glacier Point Road 

Our Northern California trip was part of a paid partnership with Globus Journeys and iAmbassador. However, all opinions, stories, advice, and insane love for giant sequoias are 100% ours, as always.


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Awesome Yosemite Photography Spots You Should Not Miss Pinterest Pin from a award winning photographer Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog


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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA



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