The Tunnel View is often your first view of Yosemite Valley. Before getting to the view point you drive through the Wawona Tunnel on Hwy-41. The tunnel was completed in 1933 and goes through solid granite for 4,233 feet (1,290m) or almost one mile. This is the longest highway tunnel in California. You finally start to see light at the end of the tunnel (literally). As the light grows you begin to see a bit of scenery. The colors and shapes grow as you near the end of the tunnel. Before exiting the tunnel you get an amazing view of the Yosemite Valley. You emerge from the tunnel to a complete view of the valley including El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridal Veil Falls, Sentinel Dome, etc. This is a very touristy stop but you must stop and admire this spot.
You simply park and walk to the stone wall to enjoy the spectacular tunnel view. On our last visit to Yosemite we entered the park late in the day and decided to stop at the Tunnel View before driving through to Bass Lake. It was dark and overcast but the Tunnel View was still stunning. The colors were subdued but the different layers of gray and texture made for a nice photo.
One day as we drove back from a trip to the valley it started to rain. It was later in the day and the sun was low. The rain clouds were overhead but the horizon was relatively clear and the sun beamed through the valley. I thought that this was an ideal recipe for rainbows. We quickly drove to the Tunnel View and we were treated to a brilliant rainbow. One of the tour trams stopped with a full load of tourists. The tour guide remarked that she had worked in Yosemite for several years and had never seen a rainbow such as this one. We were lucky enough to capture a double rainbow and that may be in a once in a lifetime bit of luck.
After the rain clouds passed we observed the low clouds crawling along the valley floor. We had an amazing day. The Tunnel View is always impressive but it is just magnificent when you add a rainbow.