Artist Point Avoid the crowds and see Yosemite’s most famous panorama from up above!

The Proper Function

A Tunnel With A View

The Tunnel View overlook is a historic site that affords expansive views of El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Bridal Veil Falls and other magnificent features. The overlook at the bottom was built in 1932 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. While the site remains one of the most popular with an estimated of five thousand visitors per day, you can escape the crowds and follow an old stagecoach road to Artist’s Point.


Ma Ma My Wawona

The community of Wawona was established as a stopping point for early stagecoaches. As traffic increased, the Washburn Brothers that built the Wawona Hotel to serve as an overnight stop. The Yosemite Stage & Turnpike Company ran stages from Merced to Wawona. They ran two stages with 700 horses on what is present day State Highway 41. Prior to the introduction of the steam-powered automobile, this stagecoach road provided the first access for all those to enjoy the grandeur of Yosemite.


In order to reach the trail that takes you to Artist’s Point, you will adventure through the famous Wawona Tunnel – hence, the name Tunnel View. This tunnel opened on June 18, 1933 after it was blasted through 4,200 feet of granite and cost $837,000. The tunnel takes the visitor through the granite cliffs, rather than around. It was constructed while Colonel Charles Goff Thomson was Park Superintendent. “His keen sense of fitness and desire for the harmony of things in the national parks has made itself felt in the design of every road, every structure, every physical development in the park” stated Frank Kittredge when describing his contribution to the park.break_line_mtn


Artist Point

Park at the trailhead which is on the right side shortly after exiting the Tunnel. The trail starts off with several switchbacks until you cross the Old Wawona Road which has several fallen tree’s lying across it’s path. You will note some pavement in areas as this was once converted into a forestry road, but has since been abandoned since it’s early days as a stagecoach route. Artist Point is about a half mile down the Old Wawona Road, which you can continue to Bridalveil Falls. You’ll know that you have reached Artist Point when you come across the USGS 1906 benchmark.


USGS benchmark
01_WidePhotoSurvey markers, also called benchmarks, are used to identify key survey points upon the Earth's surface. They were often placed as part of triangulation surveys, which establishes angles and distances between various points. These surveys laid the groundwork for the maps you use to explore the great outdoors. It is often exciting to explore new areas while searching for these benchmarks. If interested, you can explore the NGS Database to find them in your area!
This Proper Function
(Approximate Data)
Party Cloudy
2,315ftElevation 13.7hrsDistance From You
Coordinates37.713491°, -119.701543°
DirectionsView on Google Maps
Time3 Hours


Dan is an explorer for The Outbound and founder of The Proper Function, an outdoor editorial. He is passionate about exploration and can’t stay put for more than a week.