Yosemite NP – Inspiration Point Hike


What? : Inspiration Point is located high above Tunnel View and the view from this location was made famous by legendary photographer Ansel Adams. You can enjoy the view of El Capitan cliff face, Yosemite Valley, and the south rim with Half Down at the end of the view.

Although it is a short hike (2.3-mile-long) there are lot of elevation gain on your way up and it may be difficult, 1,000 feet in elevation in just over a mile, plan for 2 hours hike.

Inspiration Point is higher in elevation than Tunnel View, give or take it is the same amazing view but from a higher perspective. I’m not sure this is a must visit location, but if you have the time and want an uphill hike it is a fun trail to do.



Where? : The trailhead for this hike is at the Tunnel View parking lot. Find a place to park your car and walk to the smaller south parking lot; in the middle of the parking space, you will see the clearly marked trailhead and steps that are leading up.

Google Map Link



When? : Year round. Any time is a good time to visit Tunnel View and hike up to Inspiration Point.



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Due note 1: Tunnel View is one of the most visited and crowded places in Yosemite and there is a good reason for that, it is a must visit location on your Yosemite trip.

The main problem is parking, no matter when you are coming, from early in the morning before sunrise to after sunset, the car park will probably be full.

You can wait for someone to clear their spot or if you are driving up from the Valley just before arriving to the location find off-road parking spot on the side of the road, you will see the many cars that already parking here.


Due note 2: No restrooms are available here; you can find restrooms 1.5 mile down the road in Bridalveil Falls Trailhead.


Few general hiking guidelines:

Stay on established trails, pack out what you pack in, Overnight backpackers need a wilderness permit, carry (and drink) plenty of water. Be sure to treat rivers, streams, lakes, or spring water.



My thoughts: Like Tunnel View Inspiration Point offers the El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, and Half Dome. Because it is much higher up on the mountainside than Tunnel View and without the crowd and the cars you will probably enjoy the view more from here, + the exercise is a bonus. When hiking here I found that the trees hide the view and the best place to see it was in only a few sections at the last switchbacks just below the official point. I did this hike as the starting point for a much longer hike to Dewey Point and unless you are for the uphill hike not sure that the view from here is so different from Tunnel View.



The Visit:


When the park service completed the Wawona Road tunnel in 1933, the old road was abandoned. This viewpoint is along the old road and was back then to travelers as what is Tunnel View today.


It's a relatively short out and back 2.6 miles hike, but it's steadily and steeply uphill hike to the viewpoint (990 feet over 1.3 mile!), from there it is all downhill back to the starting point.


Although the entire route to Inspiration Point is uphill switchbacks, I found it to be less steep as you hike up the trail.

When you are hiking up, make short stops to regain your breath and look down to the valley and try to find tree-less spots with the best view.


The Hike:

Start to walk up from the parking lot, the trail immediately climbing up in a series of switchbacks.

At 0.6 miles you will cross the old stagecoach road to Yosemite Valley. If you take the road in its downhill direction, you can hike to the Bridalveil Fall parking lot two miles away, you can’t hike on the road up.

Cross the old road and keep climbing up the trail. At this section you will be climbing through dense forest, at 1.1 mile from the start of your hike you reach Inspiration Point and reconnect again with Old Wawona Road. There is no view from this point because all is covered with cedars trees. 

Look for an informal trail downhill for about 50 yards to a clearing to observe the view or walk left to the flat open space granite shelf with views of Yosemite Valley. There is no other spot with a clear open view because this area is completely covered by trees.

I found a few good tree-free viewpoints at the last switchbacks just before reaching the “official” Inspiration Point.


Here you can enjoy the view and once you are done resting and enjoying the view you will hike down the same way you came. This time it is all easy downhill…


The trail doesn't stop at Inspiration Point, and you can keep hiking on the Pohono Trail uphill to Crocker and Dewey Points or even all the way to Glacier Point, 11.7 miles away.

Link to my blog on Dewey Point Hike.



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