By Jessie Festa. This post on how to do the Sentinel Dome hike onto Glacier Point contains affiliate links to trusted partners!
Looking to hike Sentinel Dome to Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park?
Then you’re in the right place!
Located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park showcases 1,169 square miles of stunning natural beauty.
It’s also home to over 750 miles of hiking trails — many of which offer incredible valley and mountain views.
Like the Sentinel Dome Trail, a 1.1-mile trail offering of the most incredible vistas in the park — especially when you add on the 1.4-mile Glacier Point Trail.
More on that below as we dive deeper into this epic hike. In my opinion, it’s one of the best hikes in the world, especially as there is a huge reward for a moderate effort. I’m so glad we added it to our 10 day road trip in California.
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What Type Of Hiker Are You? [Free Quiz]
But first, before we dive into how to do one of the best Yosemite hiking trails, I want to share a free personality quiz I think you’ll love:
Discover your hiking persona in this fun and short hiker personality quiz, which also shares trail suggestions based on your results.
Once you’ve grabbed the quiz, let’s discuss how to do the Sentinel Dome Yosemite hike to Glacier Point, one of my favorite California travel experiences! By the end, it’ll be clear why you should add this hike to your itinerary for Yosemite.
Yosemite National Park Map
Before hiking Sentinel Dome To Glacier Point, it’s recommended to print out a map of Yosemite National Park. You can click here to do that.
You can also get a Sentinel Dome and Glacier Point map specifically here (Google Map version).
Note: You’ll get a paper map when entering the park (shown below) and there are maps posted everywhere for you to easily take a photo of with your phone.
Hiking From Sentinel Dome Yosemite To Glacier Point: Quick Facts
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Trailhead: The Sentinel Dome Parking Area on Glacier Point Road, a bit outside of the Yosemite Valley. This is also where you start the Taft Point hike (2.2 miles round-trip) if that’s of interest, as many visitors like to do Sentinel Dome to Taft Point. Note that if the lot is full you can park along Glacier Point Road.
Trail Length: 2.5 miles one-way or 5 miles round-trip (including both Sentinel Dome and Glacier Point); about 3-4 hours round-trip with some stops for photos.
Elevation Gain: About 800 feet
Trail Type: Out and back
Nearest Park Entrance: South Entrance/Mariposa Grove
Restrooms: You can find toilets at the Sentinel Dome trailhead as well as Glacier Point.
Good for solo travelers? As this trail is well-populated, I think it’s a great option for those hiking alone who are worried about solo hiking safety.
- Panoramic views from the top of Sentinel Dome
- A front row view of Half Dome from Glacier Point
- Enjoying solitude away from the crowds during the hike
- Seeing a stunning Sentinel Dome sunset (if you time your hike correctly)
Sentinel Dome To Glacier Point Hiking Video
Want to see firsthand how gorgeous this Yosemite trail is? Check out my video from the hike!
Then continue reading for the full in-depth Yosemite day hike guide with photos!
How To Hike Sentinel Dome To Glacier Point In Yosemite National Park
Let’s start by chatting about the Sentinel Dome hike, whose granite dome summit was famously photographed by Ansel Adams in 1940. More specifically, Adams was photographing a lone Jeffery Pine that grew out from the summit, though the tree fell down in 2003.
The views start right away, as from the trailhead you can peer between the trees to see the wavy tops of mountain peaks in the distance.
As my husband Andy and I begin walking there is a slight incline. Sometimes the ground is dirt and other times it’s uneven rock; though almost always those mountain peaks are in sight, pulling us forward.
Soon we’re in woodland, the bright sun dimming as we’re enveloped in trees, their sweet alpine aroma making us forget the big city we call home.
Suddenly, a huge dome pops into view. Despite the name of the hike, I somehow didn’t realize that we’d be hiking up a steep granite dome.
I begin excitedly taking photos as a woman hiking past turns to me and says, “Just wait until you see the views from the top.”
We begin hiking faster until we’re climbing up the stone dome.
It’s gradual at first, though as we round the other side it’s essentially a straight shot up with about a 20-degree incline.
My calf muscles pinch as I climb up and I find myself wishing I’d stretched before — though any negative thoughts instantly dissipate.
From the top, I take in one of the absolute most amazing views I’ve ever seen.
We run around the dome taking in all that its 360 degrees has to offer, posing on rock formations with Yosemite landmarks like Half Dome, North Dome, Basket Dome, El Capitan, and, when it’s not dried up, Yosemite Falls, in the background.
Actually, instead of me explaining it, here are some photos from the Sentinel Dome summit:
One could easily spend an hour at the top taking photos and enjoying lunch paired with a view, though from the Sentinel Dome Trail it’s also possible to connect with other beautiful Yosemite hikes.
We opt to continue on the Glacier Point Trail.
Actually, our plan for the following day had been to do the longer Glacier Point hike — which is rated “very strenuous” and involves trekking the 4.8-mile Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point; however, by connecting with it from Sentinel Dome it’s only 1.4 miles to the end.
And it’s downhill!
Just as with Sentinel Dome, the trail is extremely scenic — especially as views of Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome constantly pop up.
At times, we’re immersed in thick woodland, staring up at giant trees.
Then suddenly Half Dome appears, looking even more stunning than moments before.
When we reach Glacier Point my jaw literally drops, as Half Dome looks so close it almost feels like you can reach out over the Yosemite Valley and caress its smooth face.
Now, here’s a little trick:
The official Glacier Point and its adjoining parking lot will like be swarmed with Yosemite visitors.
However, if you stop where the Glacier Point trail brings you out of the woods and the final view appears, you’ll see loads of desolate rocks with nobody on them where you can enjoy the scenery in solitude. I recommend having this be your lunch stop.
And if you’re creative, bring a notebook, paintbrush, or whatever you use to express yourself when you’re inspired — because you certainly will be here.
We spend a few hours in this very spot, just laying on the rocks, chatting, snacking, snapping photos, and enjoying the breathtaking view. I know, I know; that’s such a cliche, but in this instance it’s truly deserving of the phrase.
At around 6:30pm we realize it’s getting late and we should head back soon. We snap a few photos at the official Glacier Point lookout — because it is also worth a visit — and then head back the way we came.
Because hiking to Glacier Point is downhill on the way there, it’s uphill on the way back. Ouch!
Still, despite the challenge, it’s fun to put our cameras away and truly immerse ourselves in nature.
Plus, we’re rewarded with an epic Yosemite sunset; the perfect ending to the perfect day.
Later in evening you can watch the sunset from Sentinel Dome — or go later in the afternoon but before sunset to potentially have the dome to yourself!
A Sentinel Dome sunset is an incredible way to end this Yosemite National Park experience!
Yosemite National Park Hiking Tips
Hiking in Yosemite National Park? Here are a few important pieces of advice, whether you’re hiking to Sentinel Point Yosemite or somewhere else.
-Know that you’re on Indigenous land. The Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation were the original inhabitants of the land that Yosemite National Park resides on, but were displaced and/or forced to relocate.
Along with educating yourself on the history and culture of this Indigenous tribe, consider making a donation to causes and charities that directly support them. Moreover, where possible hire Indigenous guides and purchase from Indigenous-owned businesses.
-Know which Yosemite National Park entrance is best. When booking your Yosemite National Park accommodation, do your research to make sure you’re staying near your desired entrance gate. The park is massive and it can take you hours to drive to a particular trailhead if you’re not staying in the right location.
-Keep wildlife wild. Do not feed, pet, or get too close to wildlife. If they become too used to humans they may become aggressive, and sadly may eventually need to be put down.
-Drive slowly. Make sure you’re going at or below the speed limit to avoid hitting animals. According to Yosemite National Park’s website, over 400 bears have been hit by cars since 1995. Don’t become a part of that statistic.
–Know the best time to visit Yosemite National Park. If possible, visit between May and September — though note that in summer the waterfalls may be dried up, so you might want to avoid July and August.
–Understand what to wear when you go hiking. Items like moisture-wicking clothing, sunglasses, and a hat can help keep you safe and comfortable.
-Stay on marked hiking trails. Going off-trail can cause trail erosion.
Other Not-To-Miss Yosemite National Park Hikes
If you’re looking to explore some of the other incredible hikes beyond the Sentinel Dome trail and the hike to Glacier Point Yosemite, don’t miss:
Easy Yosemite Hikes
Lower Yosemite Fall
Wawona Meadow Loop
Soda Springs/Parsons Lodge
John Muir Trail through Lyell Canyon
Moderate Yosemite Hikes
Vernal Fall Footbridge
Valley Floor Loop
Swining Bridge Loop
Difficult Yosemite Hikes
Top of Upper Yosemite Fall
Four Mile Trail To Glacier Point
Hotels Near Yosemite National Park
Prefer self-contained stays?
You can also peruse the map below. It’s set to El Portal, one of the closest towns to Yosemite National Park, but you can easily change the destination based on where you’d like to stay.
Yosemite Park Tours
Looking to explore Yosemite and its surroundings with a guide? Here are a few highly-rated experiences:
- Full-Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour Including Hotel Pickup from Oakhurst
- Private Guided Hiking Tour in Yosemite
- Yosemite Valley Private Winter Hiking Tour
- Private Tuolumne Meadows Hiking Tour from Wawona
- One Day In Yosemite Private Tour: Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point & Giant Sequoias
Renting A Car For Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is huge, and you’ll definitely want a car to explore the many trails and sites.
If you need to rent a car, I highly recommend using Discover Cars to quickly compare your rental options.
Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!
Yosemite National Park Travel Insurance
When visiting Yosemite — or anywhere else in the world — it’s wise to get travel insurance.
One of the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).
Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.
Other Top California Hikes
Looking to explore other California hiking trails? A few not-to-miss trails include:
Have you ever hiked from Sentinel Dome to Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park?
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