Lyell Glacier, Yosemite National Park

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Lyell Glacier

Lyell Glacier, the largest glacier in Yosemite National Park, covers 160 acres at the base of the highest mountain in the park, Mount Lyell, and provides some awesome views. Read More

  • Lyell Glacier is the largest glacier in Yosemite National Park, covering 160 acres
  • This active glacier lies in a shadowed area of Mount Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite
  • Climbers enjoy braving the elements to climb to Lyell Glacier
  • Hike the John Muir Trail to get into the backcountry


Lyell Glacier Yosemite is in the heart of the backcountry of Yosemite National Park, an active glacier permanently in a shadowed area of Mount Lyell, 13,114 feet of granite wonder.

Location & Information

Lyell Glacier California is on the northern slopes of Mount Lyell and can be accessed from Tuolumne Meadows via Lyell Canyon. Take Tioga Road to just east of Tuolumne Meadows Campground and turn towards Tuolumne Lodge. Before you reach the Lodge, you’ll find a parking lot on the left side of the road. The trailhead is opposite the parking lot.

Your only access to Lyell Glacier, Tioga Road, is open from May to October.

Contact information: 209-372-0200


  • Climbing
    Lyell Glacier can be reached by climbing, and be prepared for a challenging ascent. The time required is between one or two days. Three of the routes you can take are the East Arete, the most direct route in high snow years, the Lyell-Maclure which will be a Class 2 to 3 climb, and Glacier Direct, the chute to the right of the summit.
  • Hiking
    Hiking to great vantage points to view Lyell Glacier Yosemite National Park can be done if you don’t want to do a more challenging climb. Take the John Muir Trail along the Tuolumne River from Tuolumne Meadows. This part is easy and only becomes a more moderate hike when you approach the Donahue Pass.
  • Camping
    If you get a permit, you can do overnight camping in the wilderness. A good place to camp is in the partially forested upper part of Lyell Canyon.

Fun Facts

Yosemite Lyell Glacier was discovered by John Muir as he explored the region. Since 1883, the glacier has retreated about 70%, splitting into two smaller glaciers in the mid-1900s.