When I was a kid, the ABC Wide World of Sports TV show profiled several professional mountain climbers. They would detail the hundreds of hours of preparation the climbers took planning the route, purchasing their supplies, consulting with their guides and getting into tip top shape. While watching the show, I thought it would be cool to wear the boots with spikes on them and have an ice axe in hand. But then I thought, who would want to go through that much pain in icy conditions and bone-chilling temperatures for days just to stand on top of a rock for a few minutes then climb back down? I never truly understood the feeling that the climbers felt from scaling thousands of feet to stand on top of the world…..until I went to Sentinel Dome.
Now I am fully disclosing that I did not need spiked boots or an ice axe to climb Sentinel Dome and it was a warm 80 degrees in July when I made the 1.2 mile hike. Despite my lack of pain and struggle to reach the summit (I did experience a shortness of breath due to the elevation), I fully understood why climbers get that euphoric feeling rushing through their veins when they are standing on top of the world. Sentinel Dome gives you a spectacular 360 degree view of Yosemite and a unique vantage point to take in Yosemite Valley. For those who do not wish to hike for miles and miles, this is the best view with minimal effort. The hike is not without some challenge as the footing can get precarious on the trail so make sure you are wearing quality footwear. Everyone who I’ve encountered who has made the trek to Sentinel Dome agrees that it is their favorite spot in the park.
Sentinel Dome and Taft Point are located just off the Glacier Point Road with a small parking lot (about a mile from Glacier Point) on the west side of the road. If you walk left from the parking lot you will end up at Taft Point while walking to your right takes you to the path for Sentinel Dome. Both hikes are just over 2 miles (roundtrip) in length.
Taft Point promises views that are hard to come by anywhere else in the world. You can walk to the edge of a cliff and look straight down 3000 feet. To give you some perspective, the Empire State Building is 1454 feet tall so the Taft Point view is like stacking one ESB on top of a second ESB. I willingly admit that I have a fear of heights to I’m not one of those folks who will sit on the edge of the cliff with their legs dangling over the edge.
The sunsets are pretty nice too.
Finally, Glacier Point is one of the most popular sites in Yosemite and is located at the end of Glacier Point Road. This location sports similar views as Taft Point except it’s not a straight down/over the edge/heart stopping view. There is ample parking and almost always dozens or hundreds of tourists admiring the view.
All three of these locations are within a couple of miles of each other and provide amazing perspectives on the park and the world. My favorite is Sentinel Dome. If you’ve been to all three, which is your favorite and why?
For more information about Yosemite National Park, click on the link below.