Best View in Yosemite: Artist Point

The view from Artist's Point, Yosemite National Park, California

The view from Artist’s Point

I’ve always though of two things when I hear the word “Yosemite”: lots of crowds, and waterfalls.  However, in my two former trips to Yosemite Valley, I’d never gotten it through my head that it’s also very pretty.  There are many places to look into the valley (including Tunnel View, Sentinel Dome, and Glacier Point), but, in my opinion, Artist’s Point on the side of Yosemite Valley offers the absolute best view.  It doesn’t show the famous falls (a plus in any season except spring), but you can see Bridal Veil Falls, El Capiton, Half Dome, and many other features I don’t know the names of.  The view definitely rivals both Glacier Point (too high) and the park’s famed Tunnel View (too low), and doesn’t have half of the crowds that can be found in either of the other viewpoints.  In fact, I didn’t see a single other person on the trail the entire time I was hiking it.



Part way up the Inspiration Point Trail, Yosemite National Park, California

Part way up the Inspiration Point Trail

The 2-mile (RT) trail starts at the Tunnel View parking area.  Park in the upper parking lot (on the left if you’re coming up from the valley).  The trail can be found in the middle of the back side of the parking lot, with a sign that points towards Inspiration and Glacier Points.  However, instead of following the trail all the way up to Inspiration Point, you will want to only hike this trail about a ½ mile to the old stagecoach road.  In this section, the trail is quite rocky and well-traveled.  In a few places you get some nice views down into the valley itself (there’s a really nice one only a few switchbacks up the trail), but for the most part you are hiking a very dusty, rocky trail through a forest.  Don’t worry about missing the stagecoach road; it’s very obvious and there is a sign at the junction pointing left towards Bridal Veil Falls.  Follow this sign; turn left and go downhill along what is obviously an old road.  It is even paved in some sections, although most of it is now dirt or moss- and leaf-covered.  There are also trees across the trail, but helpful hikers have made paths around or across them.  There’s even one log that looks like an alligator’s mouth!


Bridal Veil Falls from Artist's Point, Yosemite National Park, California

Bridal Veil Falls, as seen from Artist’s Point

The viewpoint is located a little less than half a mile down the old road.  For a while there will be no view through the trees, then there will be a nice view, although there are trees in the way.  Keep going, and you will come out to a place where you can see clearly, and the view is gorgeous.  If you reach Artist’s Creek you have gone to far, but, as one author put it, “You’d have to be distracted by a grizzly bear and a flying saucer to miss it”.  I agree.  It would be hard the miss, unless you simply weren’t looking for it.  There is a shelf of rock behind the viewpoint, and large rocks have been put along the trail, so even though there isn’t a sign that says “Artist’s Point”, I don’t think you’ll miss it.


You could also climb up the old stagecoach road from Bridal Veil Falls.  Park across from the entrance of the Bridal Veil Falls parking lot, and hike the stagecoach road, which starts close to there.  This would be about a mile longer (in all) than hiking from Tunnel View, but it might be nicer, and the trail almost certainly would be nicer.  Next time, that’s the way we want to go. (And 7 years later I went! Check out that post here!)


View from Artist's Point, Yosemite National Park, California

At Artist’s Point

So, if you want to get away from the crowds, and are longing to see Yosemite Valley at it’s best, take a little hike out to Artist’s Point…you won’t be disappointed.


Round Trip Trail Length: 2 miles (3.1 km)

Facilities: None

Fees: $20 per vehicle, valid 7 days.  America the Beautiful (Interagency), Senior (Golden Age), Access (Golden Access), Volunteer, Military, and Yosemite Annual Passes also accepted


Trail ★

Road ★

Signs ★

Scenery ★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★

Overall Rating: ★


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11 thoughts on “Best View in Yosemite: Artist Point

  1. Eric

    Today we tried to reach Artist Point by the old stagecoach road but after the first 20 minutes of hike I saw a bear…. running up the trail. There was no other human soul besides me and my wife so after a serious conversation with my wife, we decided to leave the trail for another day and try it from the Tunnel View. Thanks for the clearer instructions on how to find the trail head from the Tunnel View. Tomorrow we will try it.

  2. Hi Eric,

    Thanks for letting me know that you tried to get to Artist Point via the Old Stagecoach Road. I hope on your trek from Tunnel View you don’t meet anything quite that interesting as on your first try…!


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  4. Tracey

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  6. Ben

    Going up old stagecoach: Is it steeper or harder than going from tunnel? I am debating what would be a better choice for us tomorrow. WE are not advanced hikers by any means. We walk everywhere in SF so we can walk for a long time. Just want to find the easier of the two choices. Thanks

  7. Re: going up old stagecoach: It’s probably not as steep, but the hill is longer (in other words, it’s a steady climb instead of going very steeply up, up, up and then back down again). If you’re used to walking in SF, it’s no worse than that.


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