After returning my rental bike and getting back in the car, it was too late to do much more exploring. So I began heading for the valley exit, but still managed to stop along the way for a few more pictures.
The sun had already set behind El Capitan from this angle. The sheer stone face of the granite monolith provides an excellent challenge for rock climbers: it’s 3,593 feet from the base to the summit.
Bridal Veil Fall
The sun was still shining on Bridal Veil Fall… but not for long.
You can easily reach Bridal Veil Fall as you leave the park. Hike up a short, paved trail, and you’ll find yourself at the base of the 62-story-high waterfall. Again, watch out for rocks made slippery in the mist.
Another look at Bridal Veil Fall, from the parking lot. You can see how quickly the sun is setting now.
Stop at the Tunnel Viewpoint, for perhaps the best postcard-quality view you’ll find in the park. The heavy shadows spoiled it a bit for me, but look closely, and you can see Bridal Veil Fall, El Capitan, and Half Dome, all at once.
This is the tunnel that gives the Tunnel Viewpoint its name. The passage is chiseled straight through the rock, and takes you south, down Wawona Road, towards Rte. 41, and Yosemite’s South Entrance.
If you’re tired and are hoping to find a motel soon after leaving Yosemite Valley, sorry. Wawona Road remains inside the park’s borders, and winds for miles, passing lots of trees, and not much else.
One more shot of the moon for the road, in a manner of speaking.
Once you finally emerge from the park, you’ll be on CA Rte. 41, headed south. The first decent-sized town you’ll pass through is Oakhurst, which is where I spent the night. (I recommend the Best Western in Oakhurst. It provided the least expensive room of my trip, around $60, and quite possibly, the nicest room. Look for the huge cross-section of a redwood tree by the entrance to the parking lot.)
Note: This trip was first published in 2004.