Yosemite NP – Tioga Pass North Dome Hike


What? : The view from North Dome across Yosemite Valley straight to the cliff-face of Half Dome is unique and impressive. From this location you also have a good view of Diving Board location on the lower right side of Half Dome and Clouds Rest ridge line higher to the left side. This is 10.5-mile out-and-back trail (includes the Indian Rock detour) with 2400 ft of overall climbing, plan for 6-8 hours hike.

This is easy hike but not super hard hike. You start descending in the direction of North Dome, the way back is mainly ascending so take this into consideration.

A short side-trip will take you to Yosemite’s only natural arch, Indian Rock.


Where? : Porcupine Creek Trailhead on the roadside of Tioga Pass Road. Trailhead elevation is 8,100ft.

The TH is located 25 miles east from the west starting point of Tioga Pass (Gas station) and 4.4 miles west of Olmsted Point. The trailhead is about 1 hour drive from Yosemite Valley, depending on the traffic.

Google Map Link



When? : If you are planning to drive Tioga pass road (highway 120), enter or exit the park east entrance or visit Tuolumne Meadows make sure to visit the park main page to understand if this road is open or close. The road is usually open from mid-May to end of October.

Follow the link below for history records of road opening and closing dates:




Note: last time I was here was in 2018



Due note 1: You do not need a permit for North Dome if you are doing it as a day hike.


Due note 2: There aren’t many parking places in the trail head, and late in the day it can be challenging to find a place to park. This “parking” is the main Tioga Pass Roadside, drive slowly and look for empty spot as you are approaching the TH, if you plan to do U turn be extra careful. Park outside the road line and park legally i.e., do not park where there are “no parking” signs.


Due note 3: The nearest Gas stations locations:

West: 25 miles at the junction with Big Oak Flat Rd.

East: 34.3 miles at highway 395 and the town of Lee Vining


Due note 4: When I visit here, Oct. 2022 the grill & convenience store near the east end of Tuolumne Meadows was close and under major renovation. Not clear when this will be open.


Due note 5: There is a large campground in Tuolumne Meadows but from my experience it is fully booked early in the year. If you are planning to stay here, book your campground in advance.


Due note 6: It can be a bit windy and breezy up at the exposed rocky dome so consider bringing warm cloth with you.


Due note 7: Stay off domes during thunderstorms!

It is not safe to be in high exposed location when there are lightnings…


Due note 8: As in all other trail hikes in Yosemite dogs aren't allowed on this trail.


Due note 9: There are restrooms at the trailhead.



My thoughts: This is indeed an amazing view to see Half Dome face from across the deep Yosemite Valley. North Dome is the perfect location for that that combines fun hike in the high pine forests of Yosemite. I did this hike only once but I’m sure I will do this hike again. The hike itself is not difficult and you even start your way down to the dome and the climb back to the road is not so challenging.



The Hike:


Overall, the North Dome Trail is well marked and easy to follow trail. It can get confusing when the trail goes across the expose granite sections, just keep heading to the dome, follow the other hikes in front of you and look for the Cairns rock piles.


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 river, stream, lake, or spring water.



From the parking lot look for the big Porcupine Creek Trailhead sign and start walking into the forest heading downhill. At first the hike follows an old, paved road but soon it ends and the trail head deeper into the forest.

After 1.7 miles you will arrive to the junction of the Snow Creek, keep hiking straight, here you will start climbing a mountain ridge.

After hiking for 2.8 miles from the TH you will see on your left a turn to Indian Rock Arch.

Although this is not a must-see location it is interesting to see the only natural granite arch (about 15 feet high) in the Yosemite Park.

The trail to the arch is 0.6-mile one way detour (1.2 miles out and back) and it mainly steep uphill. Hike to the right of the rock formation and go around the back, from here you can climb into the arch.

I do recommend doing this side-trip on the way down to North Dome, on the way back you will probably want to hike directly to your car.


Once you are back to the main trail from Indian Rock Arch you will keep hiking down south in the direction of North Dome.


After ~4.6 miles from the trailhead the forest starts to clear and the view open-up. Keep walking down the exposed rocky edge of Indian Ridge and you will see North Dome way below you, this section is steeply going down (600 ft in 0.8 mile).

Hiking down, after 5.1 miles pass the junction to upper Yosemite Falls on your right, cross the lower section between you and the dome and after 5.6 miles from the TH you will climb and reach North Dome top.

Here you will take a break and enjoy the view in front of you, Half Dome face directly across Tenaya Canyon, the lower Yosemite Valley to your right, and the high Cloud Rest ridge to the left.

I find it that the trees in this rocky exposed location have they unique view, like they have character.

North Dome itself is wide and rounded on top so there is no danger of falling off the edges on the other hand has sheer drops so be careful.


After you had your rest and done with the view it is the time to hike back to the trail starting point.

You will start with the relatively steep hike up the exposed section and into the forest ridge, at the Indian Rock Arch trail junction you will descend back to the creek and from there is another section of easy climbing all the way to the road.




This is an excellent option for a day hike in Yosemite where North Dome top offer spectacular views of the Half Dome and the valley.



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