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El Capitan

Experience the enormity of Yosemite Valley’s glacially carved granite peaks when you gaze upon this distinctive formation and rock-climbing landmark.

El Capitan is one of Yosemite National Park’s best-known features, rising sharply from the valley floor in a spectacular precipitous formation. Translating to “the captain” in Spanish, El Capitan looks out over the magnificent valley and dares rock climbers and hikers to reach its dizzying peaks. See the mesmerizing rock face from one of several roads that wind through the western part of Yosemite Valley or grab your climbing equipment and tackle “El Cap” yourself.

The sheer cliff face of El Capitan stands opposite the magnificent mists of Bridalveil Fall. Drive along the roads that connect Tunnel View, El Capitan Meadow and the Bridalveil Fall area to get clear views of Yosemite’s chief peak and the climbers scaling its face. Rising over 3,000 feet (900 meters) from its base, the granite monolith’s tallest face is easy to identify from the length of the valley. The Mariposa Battalion gave the formation its name while exploring the valley in 1851. The local Native American name for the formation translates to “Rock Chief” or “Captain,” inspiring the Spanish name.

Photograph the precipice and capture the sunlight as it reflects off the rock face. Sunset is a popular time for photographers in this colossal landscape, when the colors of the sunlight cast red and orange hues across the granite sentinel.

Reach El Capitan’s base by hiking out of Yosemite Valley on the trail that heads west from Yosemite Falls. Keen rock climbers have long heralded El Capitan as one of the world’s greatest challenges. If you are an experienced climber, bring your gear and tackle one of the climbing routes ascending the sheer granite face. If not, use binoculars to view climbers on the southwest and southeast faces.

El Capitan is located in the valley’s western section at the center of Yosemite National Park. See the magnificent peak as you drive along one of several scenic routes that pass through the soaring valley. Visit in summer to see the stark contrast of the blue sky above the pale rock or check out the views in winter when snow dusts the formation’s nose.


Guide to Exploring around El Capitan


Map

Best Lodging Options Near El Capitan

See all 469 Properties near El Capitan
Yosemite View Lodge ¥25,476
Yosemite View Lodge

Yosemite View Lodge

11136 Highway 140, El Portal, CA
     
    2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated on a river, this hotel is 2.5 mi (4 km) from Yosemite Arch Rock Gate Entrance and within 12 mi (20 km) of Yosemite Valley and Tunnel View. Bridalveil Fall and Cathedral Beach Picnic Area are also within 12 mi (20 km).

    Yosemite West Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals
    Yosemite West Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals

    Yosemite West Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals

    Various Addresses, Yosemite National Park, CA
       
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated in a national park, this cabin is 2.8 mi (4.6 km) from Sierra National Forest and within 9 mi (15 km) of Yosemite Valley and Badger Pass. Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall are also within 12 mi (20 km).

      Yosemite Scenic Wonders - Wawona Area ¥56,836
      Yosemite Scenic Wonders - Wawona Area

      Yosemite Scenic Wonders - Wawona Area

      Various Addresses, Wawona, Yosemite National Park, CA
         
        3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated in a national park, this cabin is within 9 mi (15 km) of Sierra National Forest, Yosemite Valley, and Badger Pass. Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall are also within 12 mi (20 km).

        Inside Yosemite Mountain Beauty
        Inside Yosemite Mountain Beauty

        Inside Yosemite Mountain Beauty

        7436 Henness Ridge Road, Yosemite National Park, CA
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in Yosemite National Park, this vacation home is 2.9 mi (4.6 km) from Sierra National Forest and within 9 mi (15 km) of Yosemite Valley and Badger Pass. Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall are also within 12 mi (20 km).

          Inside Yosemite Park Winter Wonderland
          Inside Yosemite Park Winter Wonderland

          Inside Yosemite Park Winter Wonderland

          7428 Yosemite Parkway, Yosemite National Park, CA
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in Yosemite National Park, this vacation home is within 9 mi (15 km) of Sierra National Forest, Yosemite Valley, and Badger Pass. Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall are also within 12 mi (20 km).

            Inside Yosemite Sierra Blossom
            Inside Yosemite Sierra Blossom

            Inside Yosemite Sierra Blossom

            7432 Henness Ridge Road, Yosemite National Park, CA
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated in Yosemite National Park, this vacation home is within 9 mi (15 km) of Sierra National Forest, Yosemite Valley, and Badger Pass. Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall are also within 12 mi (20 km).

              Inside Yosemite Spring Wonderland
              Inside Yosemite Spring Wonderland

              Inside Yosemite Spring Wonderland

              7428B Yosemite Parkway, Yosemite National Park, CA
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in Yosemite National Park, this vacation home is within 9 mi (15 km) of Sierra National Forest, Yosemite Valley, and Badger Pass. Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall are also within 12 mi (20 km).

                Inside Yosemite Upper Cascades
                Inside Yosemite Upper Cascades

                Inside Yosemite Upper Cascades

                7426A Yosemite Parkway, Yosemite National Park, CA
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in Yosemite National Park, this vacation home is within 9 mi (15 km) of Sierra National Forest, Yosemite Valley, and Badger Pass. Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall are also within 12 mi (20 km).