El Capitan
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Challenging, popular rock to climb in Yosemite.
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  • TravelerCentralFLA
    Clermont, Florida1,293 contributions
    An Iconic and Beautiful Part of Yosemite
    El Capitan is one of the largest granite monoliths in the world. It is taller than the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. The scale of the rock face is amazing and is difficult to comprehend. Not only is it large but it is beautiful. The view of El Capitan from the Tunnel View Lookout is great, and seeing it from the Yosemite Valley makes one feel very small. We thoroughly enjoyed seen El Capitan from many angles. It is one of the most popular rock faces for rock climbers as well. We are not rock climbers and did not consider doing that, but we were amazed that people are capable of climbing it.
    Visited May 2023
    Written June 12, 2023
  • DannyWasserman
    Virginia Beach, Virginia4,241 contributions
    Massive Rock Structure!!
    El Capitan is Superior! I mean once you get through the tunnel, and a little further, you run up on this massive mountain just extruding out and its called: El Capitan! This large rock is nothing short of spectacular and stands head and shoulders over everything else. It has photo shots written all over it.
    Visited June 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written June 24, 2023
  • nzwestie
    Hamilton & Waikato Region, New Zealand457 contributions
    Not to be missed!
    Fantastic. Found a park easy enough, stood in the paddock opposite El Capitan and just enjoyed the view. Best view is by the big log in a paddock opposite, we got to see the climbers on the mountain. It was amazing to find them dotted long and up the mountain and to think they sleep over night up there blows my mind. Spent a bit of time just looking as it was amazing. Def recommend this.
    Visited May 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written July 13, 2023
  • Kentwoolgar
    Brighton, United Kingdom123 contributions
    Slippery as hell
    Been watching climbing documentaries for years, fascinated by the sheer brutal appearance of El Cap. Always my goal to visit Yosemite and this monolithic granite slab. Taking the average climber 3-6 days to reach the summit. I looked up at the face after dark, to see lights from sleeping hammocks all over the face. Went to the base and one of the route start points laid back on my rucksack and watched climbers ascending and descending until dusk. I found a new appreciation for these guys. Amazing couple of hours. I tried climbing the first holds, can’t believe how slippery the face is and it’s covered in ants.
    Visited November 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written November 9, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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Kentwoolgar
Brighton, UK123 contributions
Nov. 2023 • Couples
Been watching climbing documentaries for years, fascinated by the sheer brutal appearance of El Cap.
Always my goal to visit Yosemite and this monolithic granite slab. Taking the average climber 3-6 days to reach the summit. I looked up at the face after dark, to see lights from sleeping hammocks all over the face. Went to the base and one of the route start points laid back on my rucksack and watched climbers ascending and descending until dusk. I found a new appreciation for these guys. Amazing couple of hours. I tried climbing the first holds, can’t believe how slippery the face is and it’s covered in ants.
Written November 9, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Waddler
York, UK10,071 contributions
Aug. 2023 • Family
Together with Half Dome, one of the icons of the valley.

The best views are side on to the "nose" - Tunnel View or Cathedral Beach or indeed from Taft Point, for example.

El Capitan Meadow is also a nice view though you don't see the sharp nose drop off side on - you can, however, walk up across the road to the face itself and look vertically up the rock face.
Written September 6, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michael Jamie C
2 contributions
Aug. 2023 • Family
I walked to the summit of El Capitan from Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley with my son (13 years old). It is a hard walk that took 9hrs to complete. There are no technical stages, it’s all straight walking. There are basically three stages to the summit. 1. A steep zig zag up to a shelf (you don’t appreciate the shelf from the walk but you do if you view the route from the valley) that takes you to a view point of the upper Yosemite Falls. This is a pretty spectacular view and worth the climb. There’s a descent to the view point which is discouraging because you know you’re going up again. The path doesn’t take you to the actual foot of the falls themselves. You remain a good 300m away. Many people seemed to turn around at this point. 2. Another very steep zig zag climb through a narrow (30-40m) chasm between two cliff faces. This section is hard going and though there are bushes and a few trees it is exposed to the sun in the morning/early afternoon. When you reach the top of this section you have the option to turn right to the top of Yosemite Falls itself. Having seen how high these are from the valley floor I was cautious about going too near the edge! I didn’t see a viewing platform (there might be one, I don’t know). 3. From here the path to the summit is very different taking in thick pine forest, meadows and exposed, domed, rock surfaces. It’s very pretty and the going is much easier although there are still a few ups and downs. The path is well marked - look out for signs along the way. There is an option to detour up to Eagle Peak which we didn’t do in the interest of time. As you approach the summit of El Capitan the route opens up into a broad rock expanse with exceptional views toward Half Dome and the High Sierra mountains further east - which still had snow on them. The route back down is the same as the way up - there aren’t really any other options unless you want to do a much longer multi day route. Take care coming away from the summit over the exposed rock to find the trail back into the forest, it’s the only bit that isn’t immediately obvious. There are small cairns, look out for them and aim off from a clump of large boulders balanced on the rock (pic below). Coming down is hard on the legs.

Some general advice:

Maps - there are trekking maps available in shops in Yosemite village. There aren’t hundreds of trails and they are well marked so the route is easy to follow. There are also lots of people (inc families with small children) going as far as Upper Yosemite Falls. Thereafter it was very quiet.

Water - we went in August and it was warm (22°C). We took 6 litres of water and 1 litre of electrolyte between us. We went through all of this plus one 500ml bottle of stream water that I purified with Puri-tabs on the way down. There are a couple of small streams on the way to Upper Yosemite Falls and then several larger ones up on the top. In hindsight I should have taken an extra litre of electrolyte. There are no water taps on this route.

Kit - I would recommend a warm top and a waterproof jacket in your back pack. Also a head torch (with spare batteries) - the upper path could be hard to see in bad light. You’ll need a packed lunch as well. We wore trail running shoes.

Risks - usual bear guidance applies. We didn’t see any snakes (we did in the valley) but several lizards. There were some nasty mozzies on the way down - recommend mozzie spray. Remain vigilant to rock falls - there is a lot of high ground above most of the trail.
Written August 13, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Clint S
Ellijay, GA382 contributions
Jul. 2023 • Couples
The icon of the park. Glad it isn't featured any more than it is. If you are a mountain climber or want to see what the ultimate climb would look like, this is the place to come to.
Written August 2, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

nzwestie
Hamilton & Waikato Region, New Zealand457 contributions
May 2023 • Couples
Fantastic. Found a park easy enough, stood in the paddock opposite El Capitan and just enjoyed the view. Best view is by the big log in a paddock opposite, we got to see the climbers on the mountain. It was amazing to find them dotted long and up the mountain and to think they sleep over night up there blows my mind. Spent a bit of time just looking as it was amazing. Def recommend this.
Written July 14, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sam
Washington DC, DC11,997 contributions
Jul. 2023 • Couples
Another beautiful rock in the Yosemite Valley. Partners up with the Half Dome to provide the most picturesque sight in the entire park
Written July 1, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DannyWasserman
Virginia Beach, VA4,241 contributions
Jun. 2023 • Family
El Capitan is Superior! I mean once you get through the tunnel, and a little further, you run up on this massive mountain just extruding out and its called: El Capitan! This large rock is nothing short of spectacular and stands head and shoulders over everything else. It has photo shots written all over it.
Written June 24, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TravelerCentralFLA
Clermont, FL1,293 contributions
May 2023
El Capitan is one of the largest granite monoliths in the world. It is taller than the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. The scale of the rock face is amazing and is difficult to comprehend. Not only is it large but it is beautiful. The view of El Capitan from the Tunnel View Lookout is great, and seeing it from the Yosemite Valley makes one feel very small. We thoroughly enjoyed seen El Capitan from many angles. It is one of the most popular rock faces for rock climbers as well. We are not rock climbers and did not consider doing that, but we were amazed that people are capable of climbing it.
Written June 12, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Junior Nerd
1 contribution
Dec. 2022 • Couples
This was one of the best trips I’ve ever had. Experiencing Yosemite and El Capitan we’re just fantastic; an experience that I will cherish forever.
Written December 14, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

2BEis2SKI
Charlotte, NC1,375 contributions
Oct. 2022
It's hard to get the true scale, even when you are standing near the base but it's impressive none the less. It's so large, you almost lose context of how it compares against other large structures. For example, it's twice as high as the Empire State building.

You drive by it multiple times so it's not hard to see and there are multiple vantage points but my highest recommendation is to get up early and find a place to comfortably sit and watch the sun rise against El Cap. Called the Dawn Wall, it's one of the great sunrises in all of the world and a great way to decompress and just let time happen without interruption.
Written November 28, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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EL CAPITAN - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

Frequently Asked Questions about El Capitan