Rock climbing Yosemite Valley, USA

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Related terms: Yosemite National Park, Yosemite, Half Dome, El Capitan

Probably the best know climbing destination in the world.

Modern rock climbing virtually started in Yosemite. A lot of the hardest routes in the US up until the 70s for each grade were put up somewhere in Yosemite. Climbing equipment like friends and pitons were brought into the climbing community's awareness here. Many of the mainstream climbing brands have their roots in Yosemite, often sold from someone's car.

There are good reasons why Yosemite is one the biggest climbing destinations in the world:

 The Walls - All you need to do is to look at El Captain or Half Dome and realize why Yosemite has special significance in the rock climbing community. With about 3000ft (1km) of climbing on these routes they simply have to be done. This is arguably the best place in the world for big wall climbing.

 The climbing is fantastic - Beautiful cracks just made for hand jamming, delicate face climbs and stunning bouldering there is something for everyone. There is a year or two worth of quality climbing here.

 A vibrant climbing community - Camp Four the hub of the Yosemite climbing community has hundreds of climbers from all over the world regularly staying there. If you want to hang out with trad climbers from everywhere this is a great place to stay.

 Good weather - Spring and Autumn here are usually warm and sunny and not too hot/cold. For summer unless you love crowds and very hot days the best place is to be in Tuolumne right above Yosemite, which has similar climbing without the summer stress. In winter unless you like climbing in the snow head to Joshua or Red Rocks. This is not a winter destination!


If you are working to a budget doing your shopping outside of the park is a great option. Otherwise there is a grocery store at the village store or curry village. Both have a reasonable selection of food. If you have more money then here are some of the options

Yosemite Lodge:
"The Cafe" (cafeteria - cheap as it gets), The Mountain Room (moderate priced American food), Mountain Room Bar and Grill.

Yosemite Village:
Degnan's Deli, The Loft (pizza and pasta), burger stand

Curry Village:
Pizza Deck (with bar), cafeteria, taco shop, all-you-can-eat buffet

Probably the best option after that 7 day big wall experience is the Ahwahnee's buffet on a Sunday were you can stuff yourself full of eggs Benedict and recover all the weight you lost on the wall

Cheap climbing accommodation in peak season, in Yosemite, is hard to come by. After your 2 weeks staying in campgrounds you are kicked out and forced to go elsewhere. A lot of people do big wall climbing here so that they can stay for longer. If you are not up for your first big wall experience then be prepared to move on quickly.
If you have money then staying in a lodge is a more comfortable option.

A side note....
Climbers are really only tolerated here. Most of the money is made outside of climbers and I think that most of the park service management would be happier if climbers were not here! This is not the place to have a smoking session, get drunk or speed; the Yosemite cops are well known for giving out tickets and enforcing law and order. Finally ALWAYS PUT ANY FOOD THAT YOU HAVE IN BEAR BOXES. You will not get away with being stupid.

Climbing Gear
Yosemite granite has many pin-scared cracks so a few sets of nuts and offset nuts are essential. When cams are used, they are mostly in the thin to hand size. For many of the longer routes, a LARGE number of slings are needed-it is common for pitches to wander. You will want a pair of comfortable climbing shoes for the longer routes and a tighter fitting slipper or velcro shoe for the sport climbing. A helmet is a must for both potential loose rock and dropped gear from climbers above.

Here are a number of easier grade classic climbs that are often the focus of a climber's first week in Yosemite.
Munginella, After Six, Royal Arches, Half Dome Snake Dike, Bishop's Terrace, Nutcracker, Commitment, Higher Spire, Regular Route and the Central Pillar.

For more information on these climbs please go to

Finally, make sure at some point you make it to Yosemite. Even if you hate anything that has a crack, Yosemite is just too beautiful to miss!!

A big thanks to Chris McNamara and supertopo for all the help with the information.
For guide books and topos please check out their site

This map of rock climbing around Yosemite Valley, USA which is considered a sub climbing area of Yosemite National Park, is a summary showing Yosemite Valley's outdoor rock climbing locations. If any of Yosemite Valley's outdoor climbing falls within one of Yosemite Valley's sub climbing areas, including Sentinel Rock, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, Three Brothers, Half Dome, Eagle Creek , Glacier Point Apron, Knob Hill , Royal Arches & Washington Column click through to that sub area to see individual Yosemite Valley boulders & Yosemite Valley outdoor rock walls in that area.

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