Glacier Point Engagement Photos | Yosemite Wedding Photographer | Glacier Point Yosemite
If you’re looking for arguably the best vista point from high above Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point is it—and Jessica & Victor’s sunrise engagement photos at this iconic spot were…well, see for yourself! (But they were awesome.)
Engagement photos are beautiful anywhere in Yosemite National Park, but if I had to pick one spot, and one photoshoot in 2021…well, Jessica & Victor’s Glacier Point engagement photos would have to win the prize. A perfect sunrise, almost no one around, and that crisp mountain air…it was perfect.
Yosemite National Park is one of the most famous places in the world for good reason. It’s gorgeous, full of famous mountains and vistas, offers everything from world-class rock climbing to hiking to camping, and is beautiful in any season. Eloping, having your wedding, or doing engagement photos in Yosemite National Park is a no-brainer for many. And at Glacier Point, the views are perfect for sunrise engagement photos.
Jessica and Victor have always loved hiking, and in fact just eloped in Yosemite (photos to come in the future!). Their pre-wedding Glacier Point engagement photoshoot had a 5:30 AM call time. Yep, you read that right.
Where is Glacier Point, and why is it so special?
Glacier Point Yosemite is located at the very tip of a one-way road that kind of winds along the skyline of the national park. It can only be reached by driving there (over an hour from Yosemite Valley), taking the shuttle bus, or hiking up a very, very steep incline for quite a few miles. Glacier Point and Glacier Point Road will be closed in all over 2023 for road construction, and when it IS open, it’s only open from mid-April or May to mid-October (ice depending). Given those stipulations, Glacier Point is crowded when it IS open.
That said, is Glacier Point worth visiting? ABSOLUTELY! It’s just a minute of walking to an amazing view of Half Dome.
Go to the overlook on your left (past the little house lookout), and you’ll reach stones and stairs with a stone wall. Peer over the edge, and you’ll be able to see straight down into Yosemite Valley. In addition to seeing Half Dome and mountains all around you, you’ll see Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls.
The view is stunning. That said, be careful and don’t lean too far out or do anything, well, dumb. Got it. Cool.
Even if you can’t walk far, or if you’re just not a hiker, you don’t need to at Glacier Point Yosemite. Here, you can walk 60 seconds for an incredible view at Glacier Point. Heck, the drive just rounding the bend into the Glacier Point Road parking lot (with bathrooms!) is stunning.
If you DO choose to explore, you can walk around and find trails through the woods, or start the intense trails that wind down to Yosemite Valley.
If you don’t want to do anything intense, there are many hikes along Glacier Point Rd., including the fabulous (and pretty easy) Taft Point and Sentinel Dome. Both of these trails are just about a mile up the road.
Jessica & Victor’s Yosemite Sunrise
Sunrise is worth waking up for in Yosemite. In some places, sunrises are just okay. In Yosemite, both sunrises and sunsets are pretty darn great. The benefit here is that because of limited accommodation inside the park, most people end up being IN the park from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some people stay for sunset, but very few wake up for sunrise. This is because in the height of summer, sunrise in Yosemite is at 6 a.m. And if you don’t want many people walking in screen and doing selfies during your Glacier Point engagement photos, the trick is to go very, very early. For Jessica and Victor, we really wanted to capture that blue hour light before the sun came up, because that’s the most flattering + magical lighting. To ensure we were there by 5:30 a.m., that meant leaving our lodges at 4 a.m. But as you’ll see in the photos with almost nobody around, it was completely worth it.
Jessica chose a bold, multi-layered red dress for their engagement photos. Right up until the night before this sunrise photo session, she texted me worried the dress was too wrinkly and not going to work. The second they received their photos, she couldn’t stop saying how beautiful the red dress came out! It just goes to show that with a backdrop like Yosemite and blue + golden hour, a vibrant statement dress works perfectly.
How to get to Glacier Point Yosemite NP?
Getting to Glacier Point is not difficult, but it takes a lot longer than you might suspect. This is because it’s a twisty, narrow road with lots of traffic—and also a lot of steep drop-offs. With many hikers and wildlife, this is not the place to speed.
To get here, take Glacier Point Rd. (off of Wawona Rd.) nearly to the end, going about 13 miles. If starting in Yosemite Valley, you’ll wind up past Tunnel View, go through the tunnel, and continue for nearly 10 miles. Then, you’ll take a left to turn onto Glacier Point Road.
From Oakhurst, you’ll drive up Route 41 (which turns into Wawona), pass through the entrance, then make a right onto Glacier Point Rd.
From most points in and even out of the park, it takes over an hour: 70 minutes from inside the park, and 90 minutes from just outside the park.
You’ll drive on Glacier Point Rd. to the end, or about 13.5 miles. There’s a viewpoint that may look like the end, but it’s not. Keep going, but be careful around curves! There’s another epic view where half dome comes into sight around a VERY sharp, near 180 degree turn. You’ll then drive down into the final parking lot, which is the end point.
There are bathrooms at the trailhead, as well as some cell phone service here. But don’t spend it on your phone…this is a place to explore!
Glacier Point isn’t just a beautiful spot; it’s also the starting point and end point of several fantastic, advanced hikes.
Glacier Point Engagement Photos in Yosemite National Park
As with most national parks, Yosemite requires a permit for any real shoot, and even any shoot with models wearing wedding clothing (and any crew). You need to apply at least 3 weeks in advance, but for popular locations, even 3 months is often too late to secure a permit. The sooner you can plan (say, 9 months in advance), the better.
You’ll need to pay a nonrefundable fee of $150 for your permit (for engagement photos, a wedding, a modeling shoot, a vow renewal, etc.), and pick several areas in rank order of your choices. No matter what you pick, you can still take photos anywhere in the park that day with your permit.
Sunrise and sunset are what I’d say are the most beautiful, and Glacier Point, Taft Point, and Tunnel View are probably the most popular locations. Glacier Point actually looks amazing at all times of day, and at some points (late afternoon), you can see Half Dome more clearly than in the morning.
Engagement Photo Pricing
Expect to pay a premium for wedding photos or engagement photos in Yosemite National Park, as it’s really not near anything or anyone—meaning those 6+ hours of driving time—often up to 12, even if your photographer lives in San Francisco or Los Angeles—need to be compensated, as does room and board. This is why Yosemite engagement photo pricing starts at $1000 typically, and small elopements at $3000. Add in the time spent planning and hiking for hours, and It’s a lot of time and work for everyone involved. Getting married in Yosemite is certainly not a smart option for the budget-conscious. If you’re able to splurge on something though, let it be your venue (such as Yosemite) and your photographer!
Jessica & Victor’s shoot
Honestly, these two were so pumped for their engagement shoot that they basically leapt out of their SUV and ran past me after shouting hello. They’d never been to Glacier Point before hiring me for their engagement photos, and were just SO excited to see the view. I typically help with suggestions and poses, but these two just did their thing and ran here, there, and everywhere. Considering it wasn’t even 6 a.m., they were balls of energy in a tux and a red dress.
We went to a few spots I really like, and I used their massive energy for lots of running shots. They wanted to scramble up rocks, see the view, and take it all in—so my assistant, videographer, and I followed along to capture it all. Glacier Point Engagement Photos involve a lot of running around and hiking to chase the light, but as Jessica and Victor know, it’s incredible.
The moments I enjoyed photographing the most were the running shots and waiting for the sun to peek out. Victor and Jessica sat on a log overlooking Half Dome, and we enjoyed the exact moment the sun’s rays came out and sparkled, turning the valley from blue to gold. It was a definite wow moment.
Again, Yosemite’s Glacier Point Road will be closed for all of 2022, and possibly into 2023. That means weddings and elopements with this magnificent view will book up quickly, so make sure to reach out in 2022 (or now!): info@KathrynCooperWeddings.com. If you’re looking to elope, get married, or do engagement photos at this magical place.
Your Glacier Point engagement photos will be an even more fantastic adventure than you could have ever imagined. ~
Photographer: Kathryn Cooper Weddings (moi!) – www.KathrynCooperWeddings.com
Red dress: www.Amazon.com
Location: Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, California