Yosemite Valley Culture, Landmarks, Activities, Camping, and Lodging

The Hub of Activity In Yosemite National Park


When glaciers moved over the area that is Yosemite National Park, they gouged out a valley seven miles long and 3,000 feet deep. The glacier left behind fertile soil that turned to meadows and a river that flowed through the area providing a source of water, fishing, bathing, and beauty. It was an ideal location for a community, and the Miwok Indians enjoyed the setting for centuries. With the white miners came conflict and many Miwok left the Valley for higher country. Yet Indian settlements remained as recently as 1969.

Today Yosemite Valley is the hub of activity for the 760,000-plus acre park that hosts over 3 million visitors each year. It is home to many of the park's top landmarks, some of its best lodging, most of the shops and restaurants, and most of the administrative facilities. And there is a museum documenting the Native American history in the area. Despite the large volume of traffic and the commercialized atmosphere of the Valley, it is a must see destination for those visiting Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Valley Landmarks

Visitors to Yosemite Valley are treated to views of some of the park's most famous rock formations. At 4,000 feet tall, Half Dome can be seen from many vantage points throughout the eastern part of the Valley. It is believed that the other half of the dome was broken away by the same massive glaciers that carved out the valley. There is also a strenuous and unique trail that takes hikers up the face of the rock to the top for an exhilarating view.

El Capitan is a 3,000-foot tall rock formation that rises above the west end of the valley. The park service describes it as "the largest monolith of granite in the world." It is a favorite of rock climbers, providing a challenging opportunity for those wishing to scale its heights and an exciting show for those who would rather watch from the ground.

Glacier Point is perhaps the most well known landmark in Yosemite National Park. Towering high above the valley, this massive rock wall reminds one of the power and unpredictability of nature. It can be seen quite well from Yosemite Valley or accessed by car or a choice of hiking trails. The view from the top provides stunning sights of many of the parks famous features.

In addition to stunning rock formations, Yosemite Valley is home to 2,425 foot tall Yosemite Falls, the tallest Yosemite waterfall and in fact the fifth tallest in the world. The falls are made up of three sections, Upper, Lower, and the Cascades. They tower above the valley providing beautiful scenery and great photo opportunities. Or visitors can take the short walk to the Lower Falls to get an up close view. In fact, six major trailheads take hikers to over 40 locations throughout the park.

Culture & Activities

In addition to awesome scenery, Yosemite Valley is where visitors make arrangement for activities such as horseback riding, rafting, rock climbing and guided tours. The Yosemite Museum and Indian Village, the Ansel Adams Gallery, a nature center, and an amphitheater, which offers daily programs, are here as well. From a practical standpoint, Yosemite Valley is where visitors will find the visitor center, the park headquarters, the medical clinic, post office, store, and auto repair garage.

Yosemite Valley Lodging

Yosemite Valley is also home to most of the park's hotels and several other lodging facilities. The Awahnee, a luxurious, full-service, 5-star hotel is located here, as is the less expensive, but equally charming Yosemite Valley Lodge. Guests who want a bit more rustic experience from their Yosemite Valley lodging can select from Curry Village or Housekeeping Camp. Both offer tent-like structures that provide basic accommodations that have been described as a step above tent camping. Curry village also has hotel rooms and cabins.

Yosemite Valley Camping

The Valley also has several campgrounds. Upper Pines, Lower Pines, and North Pines are all located near Curry Village and cost $18 per night. Upper Pines, which is the largest of the four Valley campgrounds, is open year-round, providing exciting Yosemite lodging options for those who enjoy winter camping.

Camp 4 is located near Yosemite Lodge. It is a small campground with 35 sites and no onsite parking. At just $5 per night, it is the cheapest camping/ lodging in Yosemite Valley. The camps and rooms in Yosemite Valley are very popular and reservations book up almost immediately. See the park's official website for more information on activities and lodging in Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular outdoor places in the entire world. It is filled with beautiful scenery, fun and exciting outdoor activities, a wide range of lodging and dining opportunities, and historical attractions. Many of these features are located in one location, making Yosemite Valley the center of much of the activity that goes on in this popular national park and a premier U.S. travel destination.


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