Clouds Rest — 3,025 m (9,926 ft) — is a massive granite formation just northeast of Half Dome, along the John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park. From its central location you can admire many of Yosemite’s famous landmarks, including Half Dome, 332 m (1,090 ft) below, the Clark Range, the Cathedral Range and Tenaya Lake.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
Clouds Rest was named by members of the Mariposa Battalion during their first visit to Little Yosemite Valley in 1851. As recounted by Lafayette Bunnel, [so named] “because upon our first visit the party exploring the ‘Little Yosemite’ turned back and hastened to camp upon seeing the clouds rapidly settling down to rest upon the mountain, thereby indicating the snow storm that soon followed”.
The correct spelling does not include an apostrophe. Since 1890 the United States Board on Geographic Names has deprecated the use of possessive apostrophes in geographic names.
Clouds Rest is less crowded than Half Dome, but offer views just as stunning, if not more so if for no other reason that you can actually see Half Dome. During fall and winter, you are likely to have the trail past Little Yosemite Valley to yourself and can enjoy the quiet and solitude. Water is abundantly available while following the Merced river, but becomes scarce after that, save for occasional patches of snow. Plan accordingly.
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
During the warmer months Clouds Rest can be reached from Tenaya Lake by following a 21 km (13 mi) round trip trail.
When the Tioga Pass road is closed, however, you must start from the Valley floor, passing through Vernal and Nevada falls and Little Yosemite Valley, a 40 km (25 mi) round trip hike. This is a fairly easy hike, if a bit strenuous at time (Mist trail and the last 500 m before reaching the summit). Total elevation gain from the Happy Isles trailhead is 1,794 m (5,886 ft).