El Capitan

  • El Capitan: El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall - © Flickr user Jorge Lascar
  • El Capitan: © Flickr user clickfarmer
  • El Capitan: © Flickr user David Wood
  • El Capitan: © Flickr user Giuseppe Milo
  • El Capitan: © Flickr user Jerome Bon
  • El Capitan: © Flickr user Robbie Shade 1
  • El Capitan: © Flickr user Robbie Shade

Key information: El Capitan

  • Superb climb beside the wonderful Yosemite Falls, then a cross-country walk to reach two of Yosemite’s – indeed the world’s – finest views.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating89
  • Beauty38
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest2
  • Charisma36
  • Negative points3
  • Total rating89
  • Note: Negs: Popularity.

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Around 18 miles
  • Maximum Altitude: 7,779ft
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous

This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.

El Capitan: © Flickr user David Wood


El Capitan’s famous vertical walls dominate the north-west end of Yosemite Valley. This granite monolith is about 3,000ft (900+m) above the valley floor. It is admired by visitors, a decent puff of a walk, and one of the world’s great climbing challenges, as the death rate shows.

The route from Yosemite Valley to El Capitan starts by climbing the Yosemite Falls Trail, a demanding trail which climbs 2,700ft in some 3.5 miles, viewing the amazing cascades of the endless eponymous falls (which do, admittedly, vary between huge flow to a slow trickle depending on the time of year), as well as giddy views down onto Yosemite Valley.

At the top, you head on up by the creek for a bit, then turn left (west) and wind across the high ground to just behind Eagle Peak on the rim, which, with its outstanding views, is definitely worth the extra 2+ mile round trip.

Back on the trail, wind through further attractive high country to the top of El Capitan, which boasts stunning views along the south side of the valley – Cathedral Rocks, Taft Point, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and round to North Dome. 

Two of Yosemite’s – indeed the world’s – finest views in one walk – mustn’t grumble!

The hike is long (around 15 miles, 18 including Eagle Point) and demanding, but hugely rewarding, Best used from May through October or early November, depending on snow levels.

You can also access El Cap from Tamerack Flat off the northern Tioga Road, so can make a through walk of it from both directions. As a linear route, you would have to plan getting to/from trailheads carefully. Shuttle buses, while excellent in many ways, aren’t always easy. See our Yosemite page for more.

See our Yosemite page for more general and practical information and photos.

We want to tell more - please send us your suggestions, experiences and photos.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

El Capitan: © Flickr user Jerome Bon

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

El Capitan: © Flickr user clickfarmer

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

El Capitan: © Flickr user Giuseppe Milo...

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