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How To Hike Sentinel Dome To Glacier Point In Yosemite National Park (Epic!)

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.

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:

How To Hike Sentinel Dome To Glacier Point In Yosemite National Park
Click here to take the free quiz!

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.

Yosemite Valley map
Yosemite Valley map. Photo via Jessie Festa.

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

Camping: No

Restrooms: You can find toilets at the Sentinel Dome trailhead as well as Glacier Point.

Trail Highlights:

  • 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.

The beginning of the Sentinel Dome Trail in Yosemite. Photo via Jessie Festa.

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.”

Ah!

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.

Hiking the final leg up Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park
Hiking the final leg up Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park. Photo via Jessie Festa.

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 Capitain, 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:

Gazing out toward Yosemite's iconic Half Dome from the top of Sentinel Dome
Gazing out toward Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome from the top of Sentinel Dome. Photo via Jessie Festa.
A gorgeous view of El Capitan from the top of Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park
How gorgeous is the view of El Capitan from the top of Sentinel Dome in Yosemite? Photo via Jessie Festa.
Can't get enough of the panoramic views from atop Yosemite's Sentinel Dome
Can’t get enough of the panoramic views from atop Yosemite’s Sentinel Dome! Photo via Jessie Festa.

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.

Jumping for joy at Glacier Point with Half Dome in view
Jumping for joy at Glacier Point with Half Dome in view. Photo via Jessie Festa.

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.

Taking a photo at the official Glacier Point Lookout Point. Photo via Jessie Festa.

Warning, here:

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.

Final tip:

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!

Sunset along Yosemite's Sentinel Trail. If you can, go to the top for a true Sentinel Dome Sunset!
Sunset along Yosemite’s Sentinel Trail. If you can, go to the top for a true Sentinel Dome Sunset! Photo via Jessie Festa.

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.

A view of Yosemite's iconic Half Dome from Glacier Point
A view of Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome from Glacier Point. Photo via Jessie Festa.

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

Mirror Lake

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

Taft Point

Elizabeth Lake

Lukens Lake

Difficult Yosemite Hikes

Upper Yosemite Fall Trail to Columbia Rock

Top of Upper Yosemite Fall

Top of Vernal Fall via the Mist Trail

Top of Nevada Fall via the Mist Trail

Four Mile Trail To Glacier Point

Lembert Dome

Hotels Near Yosemite National Park

Click here for a full list of hotels near Yosemite!

Prefer self-contained stays?

Click here to view unique local rentals!

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:

Click here for a full list of Yosemite National Park tours.

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.

Click here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

Other Top California Hikes

Looking to explore other California hiking trails? A few not-to-miss trails include:

1, 2, & 3 Day Itinerary For Yosemite National Park

Lost Horse Mine in Joshua Tree National Park

Hidden Valley Trail in Joshua Tree National Park

Ryan Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park

Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevadas

The Lakes Trail in Sequoia National Park

James Irvine Trail to Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Columbia Rock Trail in Yosemite National Park

How To Hike Vernal And Nevada Falls In Yosemite National Park (Mist Trail)

Have you ever hiked from Sentinel Dome to Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park?

Enjoyed this Glacier Point hiking guide? Pin it for later!

 

 

 

Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!

I'm a conscious solo traveler on a mission to take you beyond the guidebook to inspire you to live your best life through travel. Come join me!

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