Stunning Time-Lapse Video Shows Rare Views of Yosemite

Two photographers explore the park off the beaten path.

Explore the night sky in Yosemite National Park from the top of Echo Ridge—all in the first eight seconds of the video.

California-based photographers Colin Delehanty and Sheldon Neill spent more than ten months backpacking across Yosemite National Park to create this stunning five-minute time-lapse video of the park in all four seasons.

Yosemite HD II is their second time-lapse video of the national park. The first, Yosemite HD, was published in 2012 after three months of shooting. But they knew they could do better.

After 200 miles (320 kilometers) and a total of 45 days in the park, they finally captured what Yosemite means to them. In order to do this, they had to get off the beaten path.

National Geographic asked them to guide viewers through the video and point out the difficult-to-reach places of Yosemite National Park.

1. Echo Ridge in Cathedral Range (0:00 in the video)

The photographers walked for a total of five hours round trip to capture the introductory shot of Yosemite, near one of the highest points in the Cathedral Range, known as Echo Peaks.

Echo Peaks and Echo Ridge are about 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) from the closest road and reach an elevation of 11,062 feet (3,372 meters) from the base. Echo Ridge connects Echo Peaks with nearby Unicorn Peak. (Learn about 3-D mapping of Yosemite's iconic mountain ranges.)

"It was freezing cold, and there wasn't much of a surface area," said Neill. "It was one of our more memorable trips because it was windy and the sunset was amazing. We were also fortunate to capture the Sierra Wave, which you don't see often."

In the first shot of the video, light pollution can be seen in the distance behind the Cathedral Range. Other shots of the Cathedral Range appear at 2:20, 2:52, and 2:48.

2. Clouds Rest (1:12 in the video)

Clouds Rest is the highest feature overlooking Yosemite Valley. It has an elevation of more than 9,921 feet (3,024 meters) and is a 14-mile (22-kilometer) journey from the valley below.

"I was hiking through deep snow without waterproof boots or snowshoes," said Delehanty, laughing. "The area that I used to approach Clouds Rest didn't get a lot of sun in the daytime."

Clouds Rest has an extensive view of most of the Yosemite landmarks, due to its elevation.

"From up there I developed a better understanding of how big the park is. I tried finding locations off in the distance that could be found on the map. I stayed up for 24 hours capturing footage," Delehanty added. "Since I hadn't planned on staying up there an additional day, I melted some snow for water and got comfortable while I waited for sunset the following day."

There are many different shots from Clouds Rest in the video. You can find Clouds Rest at 1:36, 3:00, 3:08, and 4:56.

3. Diving Board (4:00 in the video)

The Diving Board is a rock that juts out in front of the iconic Half Dome in Yosemite. It's where famed photographer Ansel Adams took the photo "The Monolith" in April 1927.

Delehanty and Neill traversed the back side of Half Dome in February 2013 to reach the Diving Board.

"We were pooped when we got to the top. The fog had rolled in, and behind it you couldn't see anything," said Neill. "The Diving Board was the only area where there was visibility. My back was completely frozen by the time we finished shooting."

Other shots from the Diving Board can be found at 0:24 and 3:52.

The photographers visited more than 24 different locations, some of them multiple times, in order to get the right shots of the park.

Yosemite National Park is 150 miles (240 kilometers) east of San Francisco and encompasses 761,266 acres of wilderness reserve, including waterfalls, forests, canyons, and the Sierra Nevada range. It has 150 miles of land without any roads, one of the largest roadless areas in the continental U.S.

How much do you know about Yosemite? Take the quiz.

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