Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of California, carved out by the Merced River. The valley is about 8 miles (13 km) long and up to a mile deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines. A multitude of streams including Tenaya, Illilouette and Bridalveil Creeks join in the valley, and flow out of the valley’s mouth as the Merced River, which eventually flows to the Pacific Ocean. The valley is renowned for its natural beauty, and is widely regarded as the centerpiece of Yosemite National Park, attracting visitors from around the world.
The Valley is the main attraction in the park for the majority of visitors, and a bustling hub of activity during “tourist season”, with an array of visitor facilities clustered in the middle. There are both hiking trail loops that stay within the valley and trailheads that lead to higher elevations, all of which afford glimpses of the park’s many scenic wonders.