Where to Photograph in Yosemite National Park
From personal experience, these locations in Yosemite National Park are the best for landscape photography. I also offer my thoughts on when are the best times of the year to be there to capture the best possible photographs.
There is probably more serious photography done in Yosemite National Park than in any of the other Parks. Grand Teton might give it a run for it’s money, though. The incredible scenes coupled with the variety of possibilities in Yosemite is what makes it a photographer’s paradise.
The first time I went there I spent the first couple of days exploring, learning and just letting it all soak in. I was much better prepared for serious photography after doing so. Every time I return to the Park, I have been able to find something new.
My Favorite Locations
The view from Glacier Point of Half Dome and the surrounding mountains is astounding at the end of the day with the late light of the sun lighting up the flat side of Half Dome and, if you’re lucky, a sky full of clouds. The road might not open until May, so be sure it is before you go.
The view from the lookout by the tunnel of Yosemite Valley was made famous by Ansel Adams. With El Capitan on the left, Half Dome in the middle and Bridalveil Falls on the right, it is a view like no other. In the Spring, in the mid-afternoon, the mist at Bridalveil Falls will light up with rainbow colors. As amazing as the scene is, I have always found it a challenge to deal with the loss of light at the end of the day as the sun sets behind the mountains.
In many ways, this big rock is the star of the show. The great thing is there are several locations to photograph it from. It can be photographed from several locations along the Merced River as well as from Tunnel View. In the Winter, low, calm water can provide some near perfect reflections of El Capitan in the river. There's also the winter event known as Firefall with the setting sun lighting up the water flowing off El Capitan from the snow melt.
It’s impossible to avoid being drawn to Half Dome. There is nothing like it anywhere. The icing on the cake is the multiple places it can be photographed from. From down low by the Merced River is great and from up high at Glacier Point is great. I love that rock!
Other Locations in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls both present a wealth of photographic possibilities. There’s Cathedral Rocks, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, Mirror Lake, The Chapel and the Dogwood trees in the Spring. To the north you have Tioga Road with Tuolumne Meadows and other views of Yosemite Valley. The list goes on and on.
Best Times To Be At Yosemite National Park
The water in the rivers and waterfalls can be raging in the Spring, mid-April through May. The Dogwood trees are in bloom in early to mid-May. Like all Parks, it can be seriously crowded in the summer, so I try to avoid that time. There are some Fall colors in late October - early November, which can be worth a trip. Winter can provide incredible images if you can get lucky enough to be there immediately after a snowstorm.