More than 4 million people visit Yosemite National Park in an average year. It is one of the most-visited national parks in the U.S. and one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Naturalist John Muir, who championed the establishment of Yosemite as a national park, wrote, “No temple made with human hands can compete with Yosemite.” His dream came true in 1890 when the United States Congress set aside more than 1,500 square miles of land, officially establishing Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite is similar in size to the state of Rhode Island, but the majority of visitors congregate within the 7 square miles of Yosemite Valley. As valley visitors exit the 0.8-mile long Wawona Tunnel through the Tunnel View portal, they are greeted with a panoramic view that is second to none. Traveling through the tunnel for so long, a traveler’s eyes become accustomed to the dark. The position and shape of the exit portal don’t allow them to see the view until they have exited the tunnel. At that point, eyes have adjusted, and it’s like waking from a dream. The view looks eastward into the valley and provides a “best-of” view of the valley’s famous features: Half Dome, El Capitan, and Bridal Veil Fall are all visible from the often-crowded turnout.