Yosemite National Park is somewhere that will take your breath away at every opportunity. The landscapes here are phenomenal due to the high elevation, seas of trees that stretch to the horizon, incredible waterfalls and the wide range of wildlife that wander the valleys.
What is Half Dome?
One thing that sticks out amongst all of the scale of Yosemite National Park is “Half Dome”, a granite dome that towers above the eastern end of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park at 2,695m (8844 ft). The question, “why is it called Half Dome?” does of course have an obvious answer in that the rock is round on nearly 3 sides with a sheer rock face down the fourth; this gives the impression (depending on your viewing angle) of it being a dome cut in half.
Much like El Capitan, Half Dome is certainly one of the most well known formations in Yosemite National Park. The way that it rises out of the park naturally attracts attention to itself and when coupled with sunrises and sunsets the shadows that form across its faces are completely stunning.
If you’re feeling particularly energetic you can get hold of a permit that will allow you to walk the Cable Route to the top of Half Dome. It is steep and busy however so certainly do your research before attempting this one! If you are limited for time during your visit like I was you can instead drive to some of the best viewpoints in the park to achieve some spectacular views of Half Dome in the landscape with both Glacier Point and Tunnel View being my favourites.
Viewing Half Dome from Glacier Point
Getting to Glacier Point is really straightforward as it’s one of the most popular locations in the Eastern end of Yosemite National Park. It is well signposted and of course Google Maps or your satnav will take you to it with ease.
Just be mindful however that if visiting Yosemite National Park during the winter seasons many of the roads will be closed if the snowfall makes the roads impassable or a danger to life. Do your research to know what to expect.
Once at Glacier Point the view of Half Dome will certainly take your breath away.
Viewing Half Dome from Washburn Point
Washburn Point is along the same road that takes you to lacier Point so is easily accessible by car and well worth making a quick stop for.
Washburn Point offers a unique view of Half Dome from a very side on position. This angle of Half Dome really showcases why it has been named as such and presents some incredible views across Yosemite National Park.
Viewing Half Dome from Half Dome View
Half Dome View is the furthest viewpoint on our list of where to see Half Dome from, located on Big Oak Flat Road.
The view from here offers a small preview of what to expect from Tunnel View but without the crowds of people to contend with. The view is along the same valley line as Tunnel View so you get a great view of El Capitan on the left hand side and it’s 3,600 foot vertical drop.
Viewing Half Dome from Tunnel View
Much like Glacier Point, Tunnel View offers visitors an incredible view of numerous highlights within the National Park including Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan and in the distance Half Dome, sitting slightly off centre in the frame.
Although the view of Half Dome from here is much further away I would say that the setting is far more beautiful than at Glacier Point simply due to the framing of the dome within the surroundings of the valley.
Parking at Tunnel View is limited and can be a bit of a nightmare so be prepared to be a little patient if heading here to catch a glimpse of Half Dome. Tunnel View is also an incredibly popular spot due to the incredible sunsets so if heading here late afternoon there will be a lot of professional and amateur photographers with tripods trying to get the best shot so you may need to do a little jostling for position!
Half Dome from the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (Ahwahnee)
Whilst visiting Yosemite National Park we stayed at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly Ahwahnee). When we checked into our room and opened the window shutters we were lucky enough to have been given a room with a perfect, unobstructed view of Half Dome! If you’re staying here be sure to ask for a room with a view!
Half Dome review
Having research Yosemite National Park before arriving in America I knew that a visit here would be incredible. All of the reviews and photography of the park called out Half Dome as a key highlight and in all honesty, even if you weren’t fussed about it, it’s basically impossible to miss.
What I loved about Half Dome was the unique nature of the rock in the National Park and how it dominates the landscape. Whether you are driving around or hiking on foot it’s always in sight, offering a different angle each time.
It may only be a large rock but it certainly makes a big impact on your visit. Be sure to check it out.
Are you heading to Yosemite National Park this year and planning to make time to view Half Dome? Let us know in the comments!