Find a place to laze on the sand, watch the quiet river and rest in the shadow of a giant. Bring the family, a book and some food for simple relaxation.
The giant towering above you at Cathedral Beach Picnic Area in Yosemite National Park is El Capitan. Rising nearly 3,600 feet (1,100 meters) from the valley floor, it’s a destination point for serious climbers. El Cap is near enough to Cathedral Beach that you can see people scaling its face while you relax in the picnic area. Bring binoculars to watch climbers carefully finding handholds and footholds.
Enjoy being in Yosemite National Park surrounded by natural beauty of tall peaks. The sandy beach on the tranquil water of the Merced River may be an unexpected treat. Like most rivers that run from lofty heights, it provides a refreshingly chilly dip on a hot day. The channel is not deep and the slow motion of the river in the warmer months can be quite inviting. Jump in upstream wearing a flotation device and gently drift back to the picnic area.
Be prepared for the picnic area’s lack of commercial development. Bring your own blanket, food and water. Reach an inner serenity by being a part of this humbling natural environment.
Incredibly, despite all the surrounding beauty, this picnic area is often fairly quiet in relation to the number of visitors to Yosemite, even in the warmer months. It’s not surprising that this idyllic location is a desirable venue for wedding parties. Park your car in the designated lot for the picnic area and look for a spot by the river under mighty redwood trees or sit at a table to enjoy a leisurely meal. Toilet facilities are provided.
Visit nearby Yosemite Falls, one of North America’s tallest falls with a two-part drop of 2,425 feet (739 meters). Hikers may want to consider the uphill Four Mile Trail, which is actually 4.8 miles (7.7 kilometers) in one direction and offers spectacular panoramic views.
Find Cathedral Beach Picnic Area just off Southside Drive. Look for signs near the road to El Capitan Bridge, which crosses the Merced River.