Glacier Point Road in Yosemite
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Glacier Point Road in Yosemite National Park: What to Know

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Many visitors don’t make it as far as Glacier Point while visiting the legendary Yosemite National Park.

Yes, it is a little out of the way, and yes it is a bit of a drive to get there, but trust us, when you are taking in the sweeping views of the valley below, you won’t regret a thing.

This area can also be a bit confusing, so here’s everything you need to know about Glacier Point in Yosemite!

Wait, What Exactly is Glacier Point?

Glacier Point is a super cool spot in Yosemite National Park that gives you a front-row seat to some of the best views.

Imagine standing on top of a giant rock ledge about 3,200 feet above the valley floor. From there, you can see famous landmarks like Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and the High Sierra mountains.

Sunrise coming up over Half Dome in Yosemite's Glacier Point.
Sunrise over The Valley at Glacier Point

It’s like you’re on top of the world, looking out over a vast wilderness that’s just bursting with nature’s finest work!

Sold on visiting? Here’s what you need to know!


Wait! You’ll need to pay a fee before entering Yosemite National Park.

You can purchase for $35 per vehicle once you get here (good for seven consecutive days) or consider grabbing an America the Beautiful Pass if you’re visiting more national parks this year.

Where is Glacier Point and How to Get There

Glacier Point is about an hour’s drive from Yosemite Valley, located high above the valley floor but still in the majestic Yosemite National Park.

If you are coming from the valley, start heading out via Northside Drive, cross the bridge to the southside, and continue driving Wawona Road until you turn left to Glacier Point at the Chinquapin intersection.

Glacier Point Road map with a few pinpoints.
Click the image to view the map of Glacier Point Road.

Once you turn into Glacier Point Road, you still have a fair few miles to go until you actually reach Glacier Point, but don’t worry, there are lots of stops along the way, and the drive itself is beautiful.

Parking and Shuttles:

In peak season, the parking lot fills up fast, so if there are no spaces at Glacier Point, you can drive to Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area and catch the free shuttle.

Shuttle bus in Yosemite.
A shuttle bus is an option!

If you don’t have a car, another alternative is to take the tour bus. Many people choose to get the bus one way and then hike up or down from the point or valley.

Yosemite National Park Reservations

Do you need a reservation before heading into Yosemite National Park? Possibly! There are numerous peak season times, and this park gets BUSY.

They implemented a reservations system in the last few years, so you’ll need to check here whether you’ll need one.

It’s a $2 fee to make this reservation.

Glacier Point Road Seasons

Your chances of reaching Glacier Point depend very much on the season.

Unfortunately, there are no set opening and closing dates, so you are entirely at the mercy of the elements.

As a general rule, all road access ends around November and will reopen in spring or early summer, around late May, or whenever the road can be cleared of snow and ice. Check here for current conditions.

A VW Bus riding down turn in the road on Glacier Point Road with Half Dome in the background.
Beep Beep!

It is still possible if you really want to reach the viewpoint during the winter months, although you must be prepared to cross-country ski for around 10.5 miles!

It is not just the time of year you have to think about when planning a visit, but also the time of day. Of course, if you plan on doing multiple hikes, it is worth coming early, but both sunrise and sunset are breathtaking.

It is worth trying to make it to Glacier Point Road, as it is one of the best things to do in Yosemite. Trust us!

Best Things to Do Along Glacier Point Road

Aside from great views along Glacier Point Road, there are some awesome things to do here! Don’t forget your hiking boots, camera, and sense of adventure.

Sentinel Dome Trail

Distance: 2.2 miles
Type of Trail: Out and Back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 459 feet

A few incredible hikes make the drive up to Glacier Point well worth the effort, and Sentinal Dome is one of them.

Sentinel Dome summit with two women, Nina and a friend, overlooking Half Dome cliff face.
I’m on Sentinel Dome, looking out at Half Dome!

Start this hike at the trailhead for both Sentinel Dome and Taft Point, and seconds after you part with the small parking lot, take the right fork.

The trail takes you through the trees and rocky terrain, and it won’t be long until you can spot the craggy slopes of Sentinal Dome in front of you. That’s right, you are going up there!

View of Yosemite Falls from the Sentinel Dome Trail
View of Yosemite Falls from the Sentinel Dome Trail

The 360-degree view is incredible. To one side of you is the majestic Half Dome, then there is Yosemite Falls, then El Capitan, then the seemingly endless Yosemite backcountry.

Taft Point Trail

Distance: 2.3 miles
Type of Trail: Out and Back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 354 feet

Reached via the same trailhead as Sentinal Dome, this is the other must-do short hike along Glacier Point Road.

The rocky trail ends at Taft Point, which is a rather scary but incredible overlook located on the edge of the granite cliff overlooking the valley below.

Hikers at view point on the Taft Point Trail
Taft Point Trail

With limited handrails, this one isn’t for the faint of heart.

Surprisingly, the incredible views aren’t the only crazy sight at Taft Point. The area is also known for its deep fissures that cut deep through the granite, around a mile in the air.

Combo Sentinel Dome and Taft Point

If you can’t choose between the two epics hikes above, why not do them both via a loop trail?

View of El Capitan from the Taft Point Trail
View of El Capitan from the Taft Point Trail

These South Rim highlights are close enough to each other that you can easily fit them into one hike, starting and finishing at the same trailhead!

This is one of our favorite hikes in California as a whole, it’s truly epic especially for the relative easiness of the trail.

Read more: Sentinel Dome and Taft Point Loop Hike

Glacier Point

This is it, the main attraction, Glacier Point Overlook! As you get out of the car and make the short walk to the overlook, you’ll quickly see why we have been saying it is all worth it!

People strolling along a path at Glacier Point, Half Dome looms in the distance.
Half Dome looks so close at Glacier Point!

Standing tall and proud right in front of you is Half Dome, one of the most incredible geological wonders in the world. Nearby is Yosemite Falls, the highest waterfall in North America at 2,425ft.

If that wasn’t enough, the views here of Nevada and Vernal Falls are also pretty impressive.

Nina at Glacier Point View overlooking Half Dome.
Hey Half Dome!

If you are interested in the geology of the area, pay a visit to the Geology Hut, and if you want to stretch your legs a little (a lot) more, consider one of the hikes from Glacier Point, such as the 4-mile trail down to the valley floor, or the Panoramic Trail which heads towards Vernal Falls.

READ MORE: Things To Do in Yosemite: 26 Can’t-Miss Spots!

Washburn Point View

One of the first overlooks you will come along Glacier Point Road is Washburn Point, which can be found just before the road twists and turns towards Glacier Point. Think of it as a little teaser of what is to come!

This incredible viewpoint sits at around 7500 feet, so you’ll be greeted with incredible sweeping views of the valley below you as soon as you get out of the car.

Washburn View POint overlooking the valley with Half Dome to the left and a waterfall to the right.
Washburn View

Commanding the scene is the mighty Half Dome, but it is also one of the best places to see Nevada and Vernal Falls, especially in the early summer when the falls have the strongest flow.

With easy parking, it is well worth stopping to stretch your legs and admire the vastness that is Yosemite Valley.

Star Gazing at Glacier Point

Glacier Point is by far the best stargazing spot in Yosemite, mostly because your views of the vast expanse of sky won’t be blocked by the towering valley walls, and it gets dark, very dark.

The park itself is miles from the nearest city, meaning some of the lowest light pollution in the state. As you look skyward, you won’t believe how many stars stretch out above you.

If you are interested in the stars, there are often astronomy walks or talks in the summer months, and August is known for its meteor shower.

TIP: Rather than get here in the dark, why not arrive just before sunset so you get the magic of the light changing on the rocks before darkness officially falls?

The Famous Glacier Point Road Turn

OK, so you’ve probably seen photos of a famous “turn in the road” shot with Half Dome looming behind. It’s a pretty famous and, yes, an epic photo!

Woman at Glacier Point view with Half Dome in the back.
Glacier Point Road

You might be wondering how you can get this shot, so let me tell you—it’s a bit of a tricky spot. You can see this famous spot right here. But as you can also see, it’s literally just in the middle of the road. Not exactly safe.

After parking at Glacier Point, you can take a short trail over here to wander and get this great view, but if you want the shot with your car in it will require at least two people (one shooting, one driving) and for you to come EARLY!

A VW Bus riding down turn in the road on Glacier Point Road with Half Dome in the background.
That famous turn

This is a high traffic spot and you’ll also have to give up your parking spot which could be a nightmare. It’s a beautiful location, but getting “that shot” might be a bit tricky, so play it safe and don’t be a bad tourist while you do it!

Quick Frequently Asked Questions About Yosemite’s Glacier Point Road

Does Glacier Point Road close?

Yes. It’s closed in winter. As is the Tioga Pass.

Can you drive to Glacier Point in Yosemite?

You can once the road is reopened after winter. It’s often busy, and there can be traffic. Arrive early.

Is Glacier Point worth the drive?

1000% yes. We love this area of Yosemite! Don’t miss out.

How long is the Glacier Point hike in Yosemite?

It’s barely a hike, more like a half-mile stroll (round trip) from the parking lot.

Is the road to Glacier Point open?

You can check here for the most up-to-date info on when the road will open and close.

Glacier Point and Yosemite Valley look so close on the map. Are you sure they’re really that far apart?

Yep, I’m sure. It’s about a one-hour drive despite looking so close on the map. Hiking between The Valley and Glacier Point is about 4-5 arduous miles one way. You hike this trail or this one.

How much time do I need at Glacier Road?

You can do everything I mentioned above in one day!

Garrett taking a pic of Half Dome at sunrise standing at Glacier Point Road.
Sunrise vibes

Tips for Driving Glacier Point Road

  • Although on a map, it might not look that far, be aware that Glacier Point is a long drive away from the valley floor. The drive is likely to take about an hour and is very twisty, so take those travel sickness tablets if you need them!
  • Glacier Point Road itself is huge! Even when you reach the start of the road, you still have another 17 miles to drive before you reach Glacier Point. Don’t worry, there is plenty to see and do along the way.
  • Due to the nature of the small roads, you can’t bring any big RVs up to Glacier Point. If you are staying in an RV, make use of the shuttle service.
  • Glacier Point Road is seasonal, as heavy snow and ice usually make driving too dangerous. The road generally closes at some point in November and opens at some point in late spring or early summer. If in doubt, check the road status before you start your journey.
  • There’s nothing out here! Bring whatever you could possibly need (food, water, etc), and make sure your gas tank is full.
  • There’s no cell service out here. Get whatever info you need before heading down here and download maps.

Final Thoughts on Glacier Point

This area of Yosemite is truly spectacular. It’s removed from the main area, The Valley, but it does still get tons of traffic!

While it’s a bit out of the way, there’s no way you should ixnay this spot off your visit. If you have the time, it’s an absolute must and truly worth the extra effort.

The views at Glacier Point alone are some of the best in the park, but there’s also some great hikes down this way. Luckily, you’ll only really need one day to see everything down Glacier Point Road, so you’ll only need to drive down here once.

Check out our other guides to Yosemite:

We hope this helped you plan your visit to Glacier Point in Yosemite!

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