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Tunnel View

Tunnel View is one of the most famous and frequently visited scenic overlooks in Yosemite National Park, California. Located at the western entrance of Yosemite Valley, this viewpoint offers a breathtaking panoramic view of some of Yosemite’s most well-known landmarks, including El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and the distant Half Dome. It’s a vista that captures the grandeur and majesty of Yosemite, making it an essential stop for any visitor to the park.

Location and Accessibility

Tunnel View is situated immediately east of the Wawona Tunnel on State Route 41. This makes it incredibly accessible to visitors entering the park from the south. The overlook has a large parking area that accommodates both cars and tour buses, and it is accessible throughout the year, although conditions can vary with the weather, particularly in winter.


Upon exiting the Wawona Tunnel, visitors are greeted by the iconic view, with parking available immediately to the right. The viewpoint is well marked, and its accessibility allows visitors of all mobility levels to enjoy the stunning landscape.

Historical and Cultural Significance

Tunnel View has been a staple of Yosemite photography and tourism since the viewpoint was constructed in 1933, during the era of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as part of the New Deal programs. Its design reflects the National Park Service’s rustic style of that period, fitting harmoniously with the natural environment.

Ansel Adams and Tunnel View

The viewpoint is famously associated with Ansel Adams, whose photographs of Yosemite Valley from this vantage point have become iconic images that helped elevate public appreciation of the natural beauty of the United States and contributed to the conservation movement.

The View from Tunnel View

From left to right, visitors can see:

  • El Capitan: A massive granite monolith that rises about 3,000 feet (914 meters) from the valley floor, popular among rock climbers.
  • Bridalveil Fall: Visible to the right, this 620-foot (189-meter) waterfall flows year-round and is especially powerful in the spring.
  • Half Dome: Visible in the distance, this renowned granite dome is one of the most recognized features in Yosemite.

Photographic and Artistic Opportunities

Tunnel View is a favorite spot for photographers, painters, and artists who wish to capture the awe-inspiring scenery of Yosemite. The viewpoint offers changing perspectives and lighting conditions throughout the day and across the seasons, providing unique opportunities for artistic expression.

Best Times for Photography

  • Sunrise and Sunset: These times offer dramatic lighting conditions that highlight the natural beauty of the valley.
  • After a Storm: The clearing mist and potentially snow-capped peaks add a mystical quality to the landscape.

Conservation and Visitor Impact

The popularity of Tunnel View can lead to significant visitor traffic, especially during peak tourist seasons. Yosemite National Park manages the area to minimize environmental impact, including controlling traffic and protecting native vegetation.

Visitor Guidelines

To maintain the integrity of the area and ensure a pleasant experience for all, visitors are encouraged to:

  • Use designated parking areas.
  • Stay on established paths and overlooks.
  • Follow all park regulations, including those regarding litter and wildlife.


Tunnel View remains one of Yosemite National Park’s most enduring attractions, offering a perfect synthesis of some of the park’s most spectacular geological features. It provides not only a gateway to the wonders of Yosemite Valley but also a moment of profound connection with nature that resonates with visitors long after they leave. Whether you are capturing a photograph, painting a landscape, or simply soaking in the view, Tunnel View is a place where the spirit of Yosemite is palpable and unforgettable.

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