Olmstead Point is the one place you need to stop to get a full appreciation of the high country of the Sierra. From this one point you can see evidence of all the theories geologist now hold about the formation of this magnificent Yosemite.
Olmstead Point is the most dramatic viewpoint along the Tioga Road in the High Sierra. Multi-ton boulders sit on the nearby, barren, scratched granite domes just where ancient glaciers deposited them at the end of the Ice Age.[sam id=1 codes=’false’]
Olmstead Point is most famous for the “back-side” view you get of Half Dome far off in the distance.
Perhaps even more impressive is the profile of Clouds Rest, a 9,926-foot granite mountain rising 4,500 feet above Tenaya Canyon.
An excellent bronze relieve map in the viewing area in front of the parking lot will help you orient yourself and locate the important points of interest.
It is incredible to realize that in the Ice Ages the spot where you are standing was buried under an immense glacier that was grinding and polishing the broad granite expanses in front of you.
When the sun is low you can clearly see the glacial polish on the cracked granite around you and even see the parallel scratches gouged deeply into the rock surfaces.
As these great ice masses melted boulders, embedded in the ice and dragged from who knows, where were deposited as “glacial erratics” and stand silent testimony to the power of Nature.
Feeling slightly more ambitious? Walk the short geology trail that starts at Olmstead point to learn more about this fascinating place. For those not able or willing to set off on a backpack into the wilds of Yosemite this is about as close as you will come to observing the awesomeness of the High Sierra.