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Yosemite National Park: South Rim Traverse


Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 18.1 miles

Climb from Yosemite Valley's forested floor to the cloud-scraping South Rim on this 18-miler featuring trips to Taft Point, Sentinel Dome and Glacier Point.
  • Tunnel View Panorama
  • Getting Started
  • Inspiration Point
  • South Rim Viewpoint
  • Nearing Meadow Brook
  • Stanfod Point
  • Stanford Point
  • Bridalveil Fall
  • Crocker Point
  • Crocker Point
  • Crocker Point: Overhang
  • Dewey Point
  • Heading East
  • Deer
  • Footbridge
  • Bridalveil Creek
  • Approaching Taft Point
  • The Fissures
  • USGS Marker
  • Taft Point
  • Trekking East
  • Sentinel Dome
  • Approaching Sentinel Dome
  • Yosemite Falls
  • Weather Rolls In
  • Sign
  • Glacier Point Road
  • Half Dome
  • Glacier Point

Compare fresh-angled panoramas of Yosemite Valley from three legendary vantage points—Taft Point, Sentinel Dome and Glacier Point—on the king of South Rim excursions. Kick off this 18-mile overnighter with a panorama of El Capitan, Clouds Rest, Half Dome and Cathedral Rocks from Tunnel View. Then head uphill on the Pohono Trail to Stanford Point (mile 2.8) for the first aerial vistas of El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall and Cathedral Rocks.

After another 0.5 mile of cloud-country trekking, you’ll reach the dizzying overhang of Crocker Point, which juts into the void above the Valley like a granite diving board. Proceed east to the similarly breathtaking Dewey Point before swinging through the ensuing 4.3-mile stretch of forested trail. Follow the trail along a high ridge past The Fissures—a series of deep, tight gashes into the granite of Profile Cliff—before winding to Taft Point. The sweeping panoramas from Taft rival those from Glacier Point, and Taft, accessible only by foot, draws considerably less crowds.

The scenery is trumped in magnificence only from the nearby Sentinel Dome, which rises three miles to the east. Adorned by the solitary, gnarled Jeffrey Pine featured in many Ansel Adams photographs, Sentinel Dome offers all-encompassing panoramas of usual suspects like Half Dome, Clouds Rest, El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks, along with sights of colorful newcomers like Vernal and Nevada Falls, the Cathedral Range, Yosemite Fall, Basket Dome and Tenaya Canyon.

Glacier Point provides similarly quintessential vistas—highlighted by a sight of Half Dome towering majestically above Stoneman Meadow—but is saddled with crowds. Descend from the Rim by following the Four Mile Trail through a grove of pine and fir before skirting a set of sun-drenched switchbacks. Upon sweeping back into a wonderland of black oaks, Douglas-Firs and incense-cedars, hug cliffsides before settling into a steady descent. The hike ends with a view of the majestic Sentinel Rock from the Four Mile Trailhead at Southside Drive.

The Complete Guidebook to Yosemite National Park, 6th Edition ($12.95, Consult the time-tested authority on Yosemite, or plan other trips in the park using BACKPACKER’s Destination’s page ( Get around the park using Yosemite’s free shuttle service (

FEES/PERMITS To enter park: $20 per car, $10 per pedestrian/ bicyclist. Pass is valid for seven days. Backcountry permits are required for all overnight stays from May through October. Reservations for a permit can be obtained no earlier than 24 weeks before the first night of your stay. Permits cost $5 per reservation and $5 per person in the party. Depending on availability, permits can also be obtained at the wilderness center on the day of your trip.

Call the Wilderness Permit Office at (209) 372-0740;

CONDITIONS Tioga Pass Road (Highway 120) is closed between October and May. Water is available along the trail at mile 2.8, mile 3.8, mile 5.4 (seasonal), mile 7.9, mile 11.7, mile 13, and mile 14.4.

GPS DATA Download tracks and waypoints, print or order custom topos, from the menu on the left.

-Text: Brian Beer. Map and photographs: Jeff Chow

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