The walk from the Wawona Tunnel to Dewey Point in Yosemite National park makes for a great, and scenic day hike. Along the way you get to enjoy five overlooks that offer some perspectives that most visitors never get to see.
The hike begins near the famous viewing area at the east end of the Wawona Tunnel. This is an iconic view of the valley with views of many of the most famous features. It is often quite busy in this area and many visitors are distracted by their first views of the valley, so be extra careful of motorists here!
Our hike begins with a 2/3 of a mile ascent to the old road, without a whole lot to look at. Don’t let the lack of views fool you, there are plenty to come. Inspiration Point, which used to be the spectacular first view of the valley is not as inspirational as its name suggests as it is now grown in. Continue climbing steadily (and sometimes steeply) to Old Inspiration Point which is also a bit grown in but offers a good bit more to look at than its cousin further down the trail (see photo).
At this point you may be beginning to think that this has been a lot of climbing for views that are not much better than the one at the tunnel, but the payoff is not far so stick with it. Stanford Point is our next stop and it offers a stunning view of many Yosemite Valley favorites including Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan and Ribbon Fall. This one view is worth the effort so far, but an additional 1.2 mile climb brings you to Crocker Point and the best view of the hike so far.
Crocker Point is an exposed point that serves up an expansive view of most of the valley’s famous features, plus glimpses of the Sierra Nevada beyond. The best part is that you will often have the views pretty much to yourself as many visitors bypass this area to get deeper into the valley.
As if you haven’t received enough of a reward for your hard work, Dewey Point lies less than a mile up the trail. Dewey point once again offers views of many famous features but from a unique perspective that makes the extra walking well worth the effort. If you like photography, be aware that it is very easy to lose track of time while setting up shots. Be sure to bring a flashlight for the walk back down!
All total, the hike is around 11 miles round-trip with around 2,500′ of climbing. It can comfortably be done in 6 hours including plenty of time to photograph the viewpoints and enjoy a snack at Dewey Point. In my opinion the lighting for this hike is best later in the afternoon, but that also opens you up to the threat of thunderstorms in the summer months. I like to begin after lunch, enjoy the afternoon light on the valley and work my way back down around dusk. If that is your choice too, be sure to check the weather report.