14 Stunning Yosemite Sunset Spots – Secret Trails & Meadows
Ever taken a road trip reaching Yosemite sunset locations? Ever stopped to take a picture against the granite reflecting orange color? If not, then you’re missing out on some worthy moments of your life.
These Yosemite National Park sunset spots take you to the finest work of Mother Nature that becomes a lifetime memory you cannot forget. Even if you’re in Yosemite for one day, I recommend you visit these amazing spots.
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In my 7 years of Yosemite exploration, I’ve created a list of the 14 best places for Yosemite sunset that guarantees scenic views, incredible memories, peace of mind, and positive energy.
So, let’s have a great Yosemite experience. You can also check out Yosemite sunrise spots to experience the feel of the first light falling over them!
Table of Contents
Best Sunset Spots Yosemite National Park
1. Cook’s Meadows
Imagine taking a photo of the sun setting from a place where there is only YOU and nature (okay, consider it three-four people more), sounds cool? Cook’s Meadow is an excellent Yosemite sunset spot, you’ll be overwhelmed by the angles of the rocks!
Cook’s Meadows is my top recommended place to hike in Yosemite Valley. I know, normally people do not even consider it a hiking spot but its location to spot meadows, Lower Yosemite Falls, the sound, colorful flowers, and bridges are all worth it.
I simply came here for the hiking but never thought nature would reward me with something so gorgeous – sunset. The soft light was slowly engulfing the meadows and Half Dome. The meadow is at the valley floor level, you’ll surely spot deer too!
In my childhood days, I saw a picture clicked by Ansel Adams from here keeping the Half Dome and a yellow tree as the backdrop. Since then there was a feeling lingering in me to reach this place and see it with my own eyes. A golden hour makes this place more beautiful.
2. Tuolumne Meadows
Yosemite Park has few places that are not deeply explored by tourists and are sure to offer peace of mind. Tuolumne Meadow is one such place that is away from hustle and bustle of the Instagram world and one of the peaceful places to watch the sunset in Yosemite.
The place sits 60 miles from Yosemite Valley at 8,600 feet in height, hiking to the top of Pothole Dome makes it ideal to see the valley from the point. Ideally, there is no one point to watch the sunset. Every trail is picture-perfect.
I love to sit close to the water dip my feet and see the sun setting down! It is one of the high–elevation meadows in Yosemite which is covered with the lush field, high granite domes, majestic peaks scattered clean alpine lakes, and clean air.
During the golden hour, I recommend strolling along the Tuolumne Meadow spotting the sun playing around Lambert Dome and the summit of Cathedral Lake. Soda Spring is also a great spot to witness the majestic vistas.
3. Olmsted Point
Have you ever dared to pull off your car brakes on the roadside without knowing about the place to see the sun setting down? Well, Olmsted Point is among such sites, while driving along the Tioga Road, North of Yosemite, you’ll find it.
In my opinion, Olmsted Point is a straight-shot view spot for sunset in Yosemite Valley that gives a majestic view of Tenayan Canyon, Clouds Rest, and Half Dome at an angle that shows how beautifully nature crafted it.
If you’re stopping by, I recommend you walk short following the trail to the small dome formation to the south to stand with your partner and see the sun casting its last rays. From here you get a view of the northeast.
The boulders on the path make it perfect to sit and relax. You know how much I love hiking, so I went for ¼ miles heading across the street behind the parking spot to Tenaya Lake to see Yosemite’s yellow-bellied marmot and nature.
4. Glacier Point
You will find here many offbeat Yosemite sunset spots but the spot that tops the position is Glacier point Yosemite sunset. Ask anyone from California, everyone will tell you the same. It’s really incredible.
Glacier Point tops the list because of its height, extended ledge that is famous for photography, and multiple sunset spots. You will love to stand at the north point of Geology Hut to see the sun setting.
From here you get a clear view of Nevada Falls and Vernal, now that’s something different! I came here during sunrise! Hence, if you’re looking for a spectacular place to spot sunrise in Yosemite, you know where to come. I loved it!
You know, when I came here at sunrise, I saw a couple getting married here. As the sun shed its first ray, Glacier Point becomes beautiful. You can reach it by hiking, or taking the Four Trail. It is 9.6 miles round trip at 3,200 feet elevation.
Tip: Come here as early as possible. Or the parking space might be packed.
5. Artist’s Point Trail
Sunset in Yosemite National Park is spectacular when seen from offbeat locations free from the crowd. Let me take you to a private Yosemite sunset spot – Artists Point Trail. It offers the most iconic quintessential views of Yosemite Valley.
Artists Point Trail is in the Tunnel View parking space, below the staircase. The spot sits at 400 feet higher elevation than Tunnel View. There are a lot of fallen trees here, so be very careful while hiking. I recommend buying sturdy boots for a hike!
I was returning back following the old Wawona Road when I accidentally found this spot. It was during the sunset when I reached here. As the spot is much southern, Half Dome is not prominent but the view of Bridalveil Fall is mesmerizing.
Artists Point Trail is much superior to Tunnel View as you’ll be basking in silence and solitude. Also, the hiking trail is so adventurous, you’ve to walk through a dense forest of canyons live oak, Ponderosa Pine, Incense Cedar, and Douglas fir.
Tip: If you’re searching for a Yosemite sunset waterfall, Artists Point Trail in Spring is a perfect time to explore.
6. Curry Village Porch
Put on your Sunday best and make your way to the most beautiful Curry Village, a small village of Half Dome. The accommodation has 400 canvas tent cabins, 18 motel rooms, and 60 cabins. Moreover, I love their tent cabins and rocking chairs.
In the middle of nature, you can elevate a great camping experience by seeing the iconic granite cliffs, mountain tops, and the sun setting down against it! From here you’ve to walk 5 minutes to reach a viewpoint to see the surreal glittered night sky.
Among the secluded top spots for sunset in Yosemite Valley, Curry Village viewpoint top the list. Seeing the sky turning orange quietly is such a fantastic feeling. There is plenty of space and every picture from here looks pretty.
Tip: You can connect with nature, gather a good camping experience and watch a memorable sunset.
7. The Yosemite Valley Chapel
What’s a better way to spend your evening unwinding yourself watching the golden sunlight seeping through the skyline and you see a silhouette of the Chapel? Sunset in Yosemite inhere looks super cool in summer when the waterfalls are at full force.
The reason why I ranked The Yosemite Valley Chapel as one of the gorgeous Yosemite sunset locations is that it is one of the few buildings in the National Park which offers a charming cute view of cliffs and Yosemite Falls.
From The Yosemite Valley Chapel, the rays of the sun between the mountains offer a peaceful splendor. The place is absolutely magical! I recommend staying for the whole time watching every change of colors. No picture can do it justice!
8. Wawona Covered Bridge
Wawona Covered Bridge is one of the oldest historic structures built around 1853 which not only narrates bygone times but is an unknown spot for viewing the brilliant hues of the sunset in Yosemite Valley.
The place is worth popping over. Despite the mountainous terrain you can spot venerable buildings properly managed by the council. However, do not worry about the cover, as 5 minutes away there is a spot where you can relax and see the sun.
Wawona Covered Bridge is such a meet-cute picturesque place, mostly its dark wine-red color compliment the evening color making it so unique. Every single thing in this place is photogenic, it feels like you’re in a Thomas Kinkade painting.
9. Tunnel View
I think Tunnel view Yosemite sunset does not need a separate introduction. It is that famous, yes, for good reason! You can see every shade of sun reflecting against the granite peaks of Half Domes and El Captain.
The setting sun illuminates the Valley making it look like a fairyland. I’ve seen Tunnel View both during sunrise and sunset. The first time when I came, I did not expect the other side of the tunnel can be this pretty!
Additionally, if you’re searching for easy spots for sunset in Yosemite National Park then Tunnel View can be your choice. It is just a few steps away from the parking lot, before Wawona Tunnel.
10. Tenaya Lake
What can be better than swimming and spotting sun setting? The best thing about Tenaya Lake is its weather, view of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, alpine terrain, and reflection on the lake. The place feels more like summer!
If you are looking for the best sunset view in Yosemite, Tenaya Lake is a good spot to choose. However, during the summer season, the place is quite busy and parking spaces can easily fill up. There are a few picnic areas with tables, so you can bring food and spend time relaxing.
Also, the word Tenaya Lake means “Pie-we-ack” which means shining rocks! The lake sits at an elevation of 8,150 ft., during sunset the stunning bare granite peaks reflect orange color making it one of my favorite spots.
Tip: Follow the parking signs.
11. Sentinel Dome
From Sentinel Dome, you get the best sunset views of Yosemite, that’s the reason it draws hundreds of people every year. What makes Sentinel Dome the best is the surreal 360-degree view of Half Dome and El Captain from the top.
You can also hike to reach the spot during the golden hour, that’s the showstopper. The trails run through red firs, vanilla-scented Jeffrey pines, and lodge pole pines. I suggest reaching Sentinel Dome by hiking via Traft Point.
The unobstructed view from here is splendid! At the summit, there is plenty of space for people to do photography. Moreover, Sentinel Dome sunset is much crowded so you’ve to find your secluded spot to enjoy it in peace.
12. Half Dome
If you’re searching for a strenuous hiking spot that will reward you with the epic Yosemite National Park sunset, look no further than reaching Half Dome. However, I did not climb. I took the driving road to sit at another viewpoint.
The summit of Half Dome will take you 8,842 feet above sea level. This beauty is another story. Let me tell you the road I took. I drove along the North side Drive, close to Ahwahnee Hotel to find a spot from where every direction was stunning!
In my search for pretty Yosemite sunset views, Half Dome completely changed my perspective. The vibrant colors of the sun during the golden hours can make anyone go numb for a few seconds. I did not know, nature can hypnotize you!
Tip: If you’re hiking the steep granite, you’re really testing your courage!
13. Taft Point
Take a breath of fresh air while overlooking Merced River, El Captain, the Sun, beautifully captivating everything, and the purple, yellow, and red painted horizon. Taft Point is an epic sunset spot in Yosemite giving you a bird’s view of the Valley.
However, the Taft Point Yosemite sunset is much more crowded that at Sentinel Dome. I love hiking Taft Point (over a 1-mile trail) as it rewarded me with a view that I can never think in my imagination! Also, the area is not fenced, be very careful.
Just imagine, at Taft Point, you’ll be standing over a 3,500–foot height. However, I want to caution you that this place is not for faint hearts. The place is completely exposed to nature – be very careful. But, just try to come here once in your life!
Tip: There are huge cracks in the ground, so be careful while hiking. Carry a headlamp.
14. Cathedral Lake
How can you miss hiking Cathedral Lake, to see two lakes with epic views of nature? However, let me warn you, the hiking is strenuous (8 miles with approx. 1,000 ft.). But, I cannot argue how great the Yosemite sunset looks from Cathedral Lake.
If you plan to hike then follow the Tioga Pass Road, to reach Tuolumne Meadows. Cathedral Lake has a very less crowd and offers fantastic scenery with wildflowers, lakes, and peace. However, you cannot see Half Domes from here.
This sunset spot in Yosemite is on the north side. In the beginning, you’ll get a view of Cathedral Peak, a forested rocky shaded trail, the John Muir trail, a meadow, a few tributaries of Tenaya Creek, and finally 360 glorious degrees of beauty.
Reaching here needs a permit. I recommend reserving a spot in any campsite near the lake to witness how beautiful the sky looks when it’s dark with full of stars. An overnight stay at the campsite is another good experience!
Tip: Cathedral Lake during sunset offers a positive energy
Where to Stay In and Near Yosemite National Park?
These places are clean and affordable. To watch Yosemite at sunset you can check these places out.
Stays Near Yosemite, National Park
- Tenaya Lodge: It is 3.2 Km away from Yosemite National Park featuring personalized services and modern amenities like a swimming pool, spa, fitness center, and more.
- Narrow Gauge Inn: It is 6.4 Km from Yosemite National Park. The rooms are decorated traditionally with rustic touches guaranteeing a comfortable stay. The best part about this hotel is they serve homely food!
Stay In Yosemite National Park – Campgrounds
- Curry Village: I’ve stayed here for two days, and have only good things to say. The location is incredible just below Glacier Point and Half Dome. The rooms are clean, with bathrooms too.
- Yosemite Pines Cabins and Campgrounds: It sits on 35 acres of land with tents, RV sites, and cabins. They have a large pool, playgrounds, and an idyllic atmosphere. The campground is 1.5 hours away from Yosemite Valley.
The breathtaking views of these Yosemite sunset spots are no doubt gorgeous. You’ll experience something so different from spending the weekend partying in clubs!
Whichever you choose, these Yosemite sunsets locations are sure to offer great happiness! I did not mention about
All the best to your best adventurous Yosemite National Park sunset hunting!
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FAQ: Yosemite National Park Sunset Spots
1. What is the Sunset Time in Yosemite?
A. Yosemite sunset time varies from month to month depending on the direction of the sun. In the month of October, the Yosemite sunset time is around 6.20 pm whereas in February it is around 5.20 pm.
2. Can you walk around Yosemite at night?
A. You can walk around Yosemite at night as it is open 24 hours 365 days. However, it is highly recommended not to hike difficult terrains at night because you might meet with an accident. Also, Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station is closed at night.
3. How cold is Yosemite at night?
A. At night, the temperature at Yosemite National Park can be as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Can I sleep in my car in Yosemite?
A. Within Yosemite National Park, you cannot sleep in your own car except in a campsite or RV. No, you cannot sleep in your car parking at the side of the road.