Sentinel Dome isn’t much more than an easy mile hike from the Taft Point Parking Lot on Glacier Point Road. We timed our walk to have a backpacked dinner at the top and watch the sunset.
The trail is a gentle up and down until reaching the dome itself, a rounded granite bubble. The 8,100-foot elevation made the last scramble up a bit of work for us sea-level dwellers, and the slick rock underfoot made it important to keep looking down. That only made it all the more spectacular at the top, where we could catch our breath and look around. And looking around took our breath away again!
The only thought that came to mind at first was, "Wow," followed by, "Did I just say that out loud?" On the exposed rock dome, it’s like being on top of the world. There are views in every direction: El Capitan, Half Dome, and the setting sun and mountains everywhere. From the top of Sentinel Dome, the land falls away in every direction, so there are no trees or brush to block the view.
A small cadre of people collected on the dome for sunset. Some, like us, had sandwiches, snacks, and drinks. One group had a fully packed picnic basket, with plates, silverware, and wine glasses. Others more appreciative of the beauty surrounding us, or perhaps simply less hungry, spent their time scampering around to find the ideal spot for a photo while remarking that a picture couldn’t come close to capturing the moment. As the sun went down, we all realized simultaneously that the walk back to our cars could be tricky in the dark and cleared out in a hurry!
This was truly a singular experience. It’s easy (460-foot elevation gain, 2.2 miles round-trip). It’s spectacular. Do it!