Depending on the time of year, tourists have two options for reaching the top of Glacier Point: driving or taking a shuttle. The peak season of June through August features insane levels of congestion and park rangers will close Glacier Point Road once the parking lot at the summit reaches capacity. If this happens to you, a shuttle bus is available at Badger Pass and stops at three points along the journey. An average round trip takes approximately 1.5-2 hours, not including any hikes you wish to takes.
My Journey to Glacier Point:
It’s a beautiful Friday morning, the sky is blue and there are hardly any clouds to be seen. This is my first day in Yosemite and I want to tackle Glacier Point before the weekend crowds start to pile in. I arrive at Badger Pass to find out the parking lot at Glacier Point is full. The only option remaining is to use the shuttle bus, which to my surprise is a very smooth and comfortable ride. After 30 minutes of hairpin turns and narrow roads, the summit is finally within view. I am quite impressed by the driver’s ability to steer a bumbling city bus up such difficult conditions.
Within a minute or two of exiting the bus, I’m greeted with breath-taking views across the Yosemite Valley. The most awe-inspiring and iconic sight is Half Dome, which dominates the landscape with its unique shape and sheer size. The mountain reminds me of a gigantic wave of granite sweeping through the valley. I continue to look for Yosemite’s other famous sights, seeing tiny versions of Yosemite and Vernal Falls in the distance. My hope is to get a closer view of these beautiful waterfalls in the coming days.
I continue to wander around Glacier Point for a half hour before deciding to head back to Badger Pass. The shuttle leaves every 20-minutes and I was unfortunate to see one leave just I entered into the parking lot. This leads into my next piece of advice. The summit is over 2km above sea level which means the UV rays are very intense, especially around the time of day when I was visiting. Remember to bring sunscreen because it won’t take long to get a sunburn!
If you’re looking to take pictures at Glacier Point, I recommend visiting around noon or later. The valley is not photo friendly when the sun is still rising. You’ll get a bunch of shadowy pictures that look flat and boring. I never got the opportunity to visit Glacier Point at sunset, but from what I’ve been told, you need to arrive a couple hours in advance during peak season!
Pictures cannot begin to do justice to Glacier Point and its something you have to experience in person. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world with breathtaking views that will instantly become a highlight of your trip. No journey to Yosemite National Park is complete without visiting Glacier Point!
Thanks for reading! For more information on Yosemite, check out my extensive travel guide.