Yosemite Valley's Tunnel View Shows Off El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls

Part of the You Can Learn Travel series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, You Can Learn Series
Updated:
September 15, 2007

Great Views of El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall from Tunnel View

As you travel through Yosemite Valley, make sure you take a few minutes to see Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View. This classic viewing point sits high enough off the valley floor to give you a wonderful panoramic photo opportunity.

From one great vantage point you see El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and far off in the distance, Half Dome.

You can see how the valley was formed by glaciers. You can see Bridalveil Fall and how the glaciers formed this example of a hanging valley. A hanging valley is formed when two glaciers intersect and one glacier digs out the landscape and leaves the other glacier hanging far above the valley floor.

How to Get to Tunnel View

You get to Tunnel View off Hwy 41. If you are coming from the valley you can pull off to the right for the best views of the Yosemite Valley. If you are coming from Mariposa Grove you will go through a long tunnel and you can pull off to the right into a large parking lot or off to the left. The view is better from the left parking lot.
Click on Tunnel View photo.
Tunnel View is the classic view of Yosemite Valley.
Tunnel View is a panorama view of Yosemite Valley showing off El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite National Park.
Click to see larger photo.
This image shows all the names in the Yosemite Valley as seen from Tunnel View
Landscape view names all the points of interest in Yosemite Valley as seen from Tunnel View

El Capitan Stands Tall in the Valley

El Capitan has stood resistant to advances and retreats of glaciers. The sheer wall is a technical climber's greatest challenge. Hundreds of climbers each year climb the sheer, smooth face of El Capitan. How long does it take to climb? The fastest climbers can ascend in around 3 hours. For some climbers it may take 5 to 7 days. You can watch these climbers with a good set of binoculars from one of the Yosemite Valley meadows. It is great fun to wait until the sun sets and you can see the flash lights of the climbers as they prepare their evening meal.

Half Dome can be seen at the far end of the valley. This massive granite rock never was covered by glaciers. The joints in the rock some vertical and others concentric caused it to have it's unique shape. There are other view points within Yosemite National Park where you can get a better view of Half Dome. I would recommend stopping at Washburn Point and Glacier Point for one of those perfect photos of Half Dome.

Behind Half Dome and a little to the left you can see Clouds Rest in the distance. Clouds Rest stands over 9,900 feet. This high piece of granite can be found in the Tenaya Canyon.

Bridalveil Fall Plunges 620 Feet

If you are in Yosemite Valley early enough in the Spring and Summer you can see Bridalveil Fall from Tunnel View. It was named because of the way the wind blows it back and forth causing a mist as it plunges 620 feet. As you drive into the valley you can stop and take a short easy hike of less than a mile round trip to the base of bridalveil Falls.

Cathedral Rocks was named for the way the great granite rocks jut into the air like church spires. At the base of the rocks the river that forms Bridalveil Falls runs through the mountains.
Click on Bridalveil Falls photo.
Bridalveil Fall sways with the wind as it falls 620 feet.
Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite National Park falls 620 feet off the granite cliffs.
Click to see larger photo.
This image shows El Capitan as seen from Bridalveil Fall parking lot.
The massive granite rock, El Capitan, shines in the morning light.
As you travel through Yosemite Valley be sure to stop at Tunnel View and see the panoramic view of El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall. This classic view is worth the time to take a photo of only the valley and ask someone to take a photo of your family with Yosemite Valley behind you.

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