From Raging Rivers to Trickling Tributaries,
These Yosemite Jewels Provide Spectacular Scenery Year
Round. One of the most popular travel destinations
in California, Yosemite National Park is home to numerous
waterfalls, including Yosemite Falls, the fifth tallest
in the world. A trip to the park provides the opportunity
too visit these beautiful water attractions, and trails
reach to many of the larger and more popular falls,
providing spectacular year-round scenery.
Yosemite Falls is comprised of three
sections, the Upper Falls, the Lower Falls, and the
Cascades, which connect the two falls. It is fed by
Yosemite Creek and spans a total of 2,425 feet. It
flows from winter to summer with peak water levels
in May or June depending on the season's snowfall.
In winter, a spectacular ice cone forms at the bottom
of the upper falls.
Located in Yosemite Valley, this record-holding
waterfall is easily viewed and nearly as easily accessed.
The roundtrip trail to the Lower Falls is just 1/2
mile long when accessed from the trailhead across from
Yosemite Lodge in Yosemite Village. During times of
peak flow, the spray from the falls soaks hikers in
the viewing area, making it difficult to believe that
this fall is usually dry from August to October. The
area is wheelchair accessible with assistance.
The trail to the top of Yosemite Falls leaves from
Camp 4 and is a strenuous trek over seven miles long.
The views of the area, including Half, are worth the
climb; however, if you prefer a shorter hike, Columbia
Rock, located about a mile along this trail offers
620-foot tall Bridalveil Falls flows
year round, although it becomes a more fragile looking,
swaying strip as Bridalveil Creek looses volume in
the later summer months. It is easily accessed via
a - mile roundtrip from the falls parking lot in the
valley on Highway 41.
In addition to the falls, those that walk to the bottom
of the falls can see El Capitan and Cathedral Rock
formations as well. Its easy access and long flow make
it one of the most photographed waterfalls in the U.S.
Although it is more difficult to get
to than Bridal Veil and Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls
is exceptionally beautiful and never dries up, due
to its location on the main section of the Merced River.
As the falls plunge 317 feet with a steady water flow,
the surrounding area and visitors are drenched with
spray. The trail to Vernal Falls, which begins at the
Happy Isles shuttle bus stop near Curry Village, provides
several hiking and viewing options. A moderate 1.6
mile roundtrip hike takes you to the bridge with views
from the bottom of the falls. A much steeper, trail
that is about twice as long, continues to the top of
Vernal Falls and is a popular hiking destination despite
the more difficult walking conditions. Those looking
for a longer hike can continue on and connect with
the John Muir Trail or the Mist Trail, leading to Nevada
One of the more remote of the major
waterfalls in Yosemite, Nevada Falls can be reached
by a 7 mile, roundtrip hike along the same trail from
Happy Isles. Also fed by the Merced River, this Yosemite
waterfall drops 594, from a deep pool above. This pool
has gained notoriety for its dangerous currents that
sweep hikers over the falls nearly every year. The
area is fenced, and the dangers well posted, yet that
does not deter hundreds of people taking their chances
with a dip in the pool.
Other Popular Yosemite Falls
Illilouette Falls, which spans 370
feet, is one of the less well-known falls in Yosemite
because it can't be seen from the major roads in the
park. The best view is off the Panorama Trial, which
leads from Glacier point to Illilouette Creek. There
is a short branch off just before the trail reaches
the creek bed. This leads to a ledge that offers excellent
views of the entire falls.
Staircase Falls is a spectacular sight
each spring as it flows 1300 feet over rocks and ledges
from Glacier Point to Curry Village. Snowfall and other
factors determine the strength and duration of the
flow, but it is always worth seeing.
Ribbon Falls drops 1,612 feet but
is only present in the spring. It is surrounded by
rocks on three sides, and there is no trail providing
access. It is best viewed from the bottom of Bridalveil
Horsetail Falls is one of the most
beautiful sights as the sunset reflects off the water
and creates a warm, fiery glow. The fall drops 1,000
feet off the east side of El Capitan and is best seen
from that area.
Yosemite National Park is known for its waterfalls,
which draw millions of visitors to the Yosemite California
area each year. Some of the falls are constant and
dependable, raging fast and loud in the spring and
creating dramatic ice sculptures in the winter. Others
are an elusive product of the melting snow up in the
high country and only last for a window of time, marking
the changing of seasons and the influx of visitors
for another season at this spectacular national park.
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