What a difference a day makes. Just 24 hours earlier, Tunnel View looked completely different: the fog that had filled the valley was just starting to depart, and features like Half Dome and El Capitan were framed with wispy clouds. But on this day, the sky was clear, and the snow that had frosted the valley’s trees had melted away. The only things spoiling the perfectly blue sky were a few contrails from passing jets — something Ansel Adams never had to deal with.
In case you’re wondering why Tunnel View is called Tunnel View, here’s the reason. The viewpoint is located at the end of a long tunnel that takes Rte. 41 through a mountain.
[tmt_info =””]The Wawona Tunnel is currently (as of 2010) the longest tunnel in California, which is especially impressive when you consider that it’s held that title ever since it was built in 1933. A slightly longer tunnel in Pacifica, California will likely steal the title when it is completed, possibly in 2011.[/tmt_info]
After you’ve passed through the tunnel, there’s another viewing point with a similar scene. You can either shoot your photos from the side of the road, or climb up a rocky slope (which might be icy in the winter). From this less-famous viewpoint…
… everything seems a bit off-centered. Half Dome is still visible, but it’s nearly tucked behind El Capitan. To the right, Bridalveil Fall is blocked from view. Even so, it was nice to take a picture of the valley that’s slightly different from all the other ones I had seen. Everyone stops at Tunnel View and takes essentially the same picture, but I don’t think many people bother stopping here.
That’s a strange thing about Yosemite. It’s a photographer’s paradise, yet you rarely get the satisfaction of taking a picture that has never been taken before. In the century since Ansel Adams visited the valley, countless photographers have taken millions of similar photographs. At any given time, you’ll see several photographers squeezing in to the most popular spots, to get the perfect view. And these aren’t amateurs — just about everyone has a nice camera, expensive lens, and tripod.
But when you get home and look at your pictures, it’s still quite satisfying to know you took them yourself.
[tmt_info =””]For a slightly different view of Yosemite Valley, consider the 1.3 mile hike (one way) up to Inspiration Point. The steep trail leaves from the upper parking area, at the end of the Wawona Tunnel.[/tmt_info]
Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive out of Yosemite on Wawona Road, to the southern exit:
… and, from the park exit to Fresno: