Yosemite National Park is one of the most photogenic locations in the world. Having visited this park since childhood, I have found some of the best Instagram spots in Yosemite Valley. While Yosemite National Park is absolutely massive and contains endless photography opportunities, I will focus on the valley since that is the most popular vacation spot and it is where I have the most photography experience.
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1. Tunnel View (The First Instagram Spot in Yosemite Valley)
Tunnel View, aka Inspiration Point, is one of the most iconic views of Yosemite Valley. This is the must have Instagram spot for any park visitor. I like to stop here on my way into the park, because it is the first glimpse you get of the valley, and it’s an absolutely stunning way to start your trip. Year round, you can see the mountain giants of El Capitan and Half Dome, and in most seasons except for fall, you will will get a glimpse of the graceful Bridalviel Falls on the right.
How to Get to Tunnel View
On Highway 41, shortly after you pass Wawona, you will head through a long tunnel. Right after that tunnel, look to your left and you will be faced with Yosemite Valley in all its glory. There is plenty of parking at the site. Be careful when driving and walking in this area, as there are usually many visitors crossing the street and plenty of distracted drivers. All it takes is a short walk to find yourself one of the most Instagrammable photography spots in Yosemite National Park.
2. Yosemite Falls (The Most Popular Instagram Spot in Yosemite Valley)
Yosemite Falls is the life of the valley. It can be seen from multiple areas in the park. It provides a back drop to so many picturesque bridges and walkways. You will no doubt leave with a ton of photos of this waterfall, which is one of the tallest in North America. To see the falls at their fullest, be sure to visit Yosemite in the spring when the water is roaring and the Merced River is rushing.
How to Get to Yosemite Falls
Taking the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail is recommended to get some of the best close up views. There is one point specifically where you can get a shot of both upper and lower Yosemite Falls with the Merced River in the foreground. A log bench is perfectly placed here for hikers to rest and enjoy the view. Near the bench is a plaque on a large rock, giving tribute to John Muir, who build a pine cabin on the spot in 1869 and lived there for 2 years. The fact that John Muir himself chose to call this place home proves that this is one of the best Instagram and photography spots in Yosemite.
3. Cook’s Meadow (The Most Classic Instagram Spot in Yosemite Valley)
Cook’s Meadow in Yosemite Valley is a classic spot for Instagram photography. There is a narrow, raised boardwalk running right through it, which allows visitors to experience the beauty and views from the meadow without treading all over it and damaging the landscape. Cook’s Meadow offers a perfect view of Yosemite Falls in one direction, and Half Dome in another. For sunrise photography lovers, the light is perfect on Yosemite Falls in the morning. For sunset photography lovers, the orange lighting is magical on Half Dome in the evening.
How to Get to Cook’s Meadow
A perfect way to experience Cook’s Meadow is to follow the Sentinel Meadow and Cook’s Meadow Loop Trail. This 2.3 mile loop trail is easy-paced and is perfect for exploring and finding great spots for nature photography. There is plenty of wildlife in the meadows at dawn and twilight. You can easily get to Cook’s Meadow by using the park shuttle and getting off at stop 6 by the Lower Yosemite Falls trailhead or at stop 11 by the Sentinel Bridge parking area.
4. Vernal Falls (The Most Challenging Instagram Spot in Yosemite Valley)
Vernal Falls, aka The Mist Trail, is one of my favorite hikes. The point where you reach the peak of the hike, and are able overlook the falls as they cascade and crash onto the rocks below, is one of the most Instagrammable spots in Yosemite Valley. If you’re planning to wear something nice for your Instagram shots, be sure to bring a change of clothes, as this hike is moderately-paced and can be a bit challenging with lots of stairs and incline. Sturdy shoes are required as well.
How to Get to Vernal Falls
To get to the top Vernal Falls, or at at least get close to it for some great views, be sure to do the Vernal Falls Hike. Also called the Mist Trail, this hike is notorious for getting covered in waterfall mist. Spring is when the falls are at their fullest and the trail is at its wettest, as that is when all the summer snow is melting and rushing down into the valley below. This is a beautiful spot for nature photography lovers.
5. Glacier Point (One of the Highest Instagram Spots in Yosemite Valley)
Heading up to Glacier Point is one of the most fun things to do in Yosemite Valley. Once you get to the top, the view is breathtaking in every direction. There are a few popular viewpoints, but, as you explore, you can find a ton of less crowded areas for photography. The landscape view of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point is dramatic and otherworldly. This location lends itself well as one of the most stunning Instagram spots.
How to Get to Glacier Point
Glacier Point can be reached by taking the park shuttle. There is a restroom at the top and a small gift shop with souvenirs and snacks. I’ve take the shuttle before, and I had a great driver who gave us stories and history of the valley along the entire drive. For more adventurous park visitors, Glacier Point can be reached via the Four Mile Trail. This strenuous hike is closer to 4.5 miles long each way, but is so rewarding. I’ve taken the park shuttle up before and hiked down to get a nice combination of both experiences.
6. Valley View Point (The Last Instagram Spot in Yosemite Valley)
Valley View is one of the most beautiful Instagram spots in Yosemite. With the Merced River and lush greenery framed by El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls, it is the perfect location to get some great Yosemite photos. This spot is amazing for sunset photography as well. Expect to get different views of Bridalveil Falls and the Merced in different seasons. The photo below was take in spring, when water levels are pretty high.
How to Get to Valley View Point
Similar to Tunnel View, Valley View Point is a location that has a parking lot right next it. Visitors and photographers can simply park, step out of the car, and be in one of Yosemite Valley’s most Instagrammable viewpoints. This spot is perfect as a last photo stop at the end of your trip, as it is one of the last stops on Northside drive on your way out of the park. It’s a convenient stop, and allows you to get those last minute photos and say goodbye to beautiful Yosemite Valley.
Equipment I Used in These Photos
Cell phone cameras are amazing these days, but if you’re looking for a good camera recommendation for your trip to Yosemite Valley, I use a Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Camera and I love it. It’s a lightweight DSLR camera, it has an awesome mix of settings, and includes an instant download to your cellphone for easy Instagram posting on the go.
I recently purchased this lightweight camera tripod and I take it everywhere! It’s perfect for getting group shots or shots of yourself if you’re exploring solo. It collapses pretty easily and comes with a carrying case. There are also tripods that are compatible with cameras and phones, like this phone tripod stand. Getting a tripod is definitely an photography game changer!
Other Photography Gear
Check out the rest of my Travel Blogging Photography Gear for tips and recommendations on my favorite products.
Pin it For Later: Instagram Spots in Yosemite Valley
Planning a trip to Yosemite?
- Be sure to review my Yosemite Packing List
- Plan your activities with my Yosemite 2 and 4 Day Itineraries
- Get planning tips, including when to visit and where to stay, with my Ultimate Yosemite Valley Travel Guide
- Check out a few recommended Yosemite Hiking and Camping Tours