Nothing shows nature’s transformation from winters like the streams flowing over rocky cliffs and steep - and no place in California presents more spectacular waterfalls than Yosemite National Park. The best time to see the beauty of Yosemite National Park is during spring when the skies are clear, the wildflowers are blooming, the snow is melting, and the creeks and rivers are rising. But soon, you’ll discover that its drawcard is the waterfalls. Some of Yosemite’s waterfalls require just a few minutes’ walks, others take a whole day of high-altitude hiking, whatever you prefer - short or long hike, the result will always give you amazing views and a different perspective from above and below. Find out why for more than 125 years, Yosemite’s waterfalls still wowing visitors all over the world. Check out this article and discover the best waterfall hikes in the Yosemite National Park, California!
Trip101 recommends assessing the risks before hitting the hiking and trekking trails. Please be especially aware of the difficulty levels, the locations’ ground conditions, as well as the seasonal risks.
1. Nevada Falls
Nevada Fall is a famous swimming spot, with no park restrictions. This 181.05 m (594 ft) high waterfall on the Merced River is situated below the granite dome, Liberty Cap at the Little Yosemite Valley on the west end. If you aim for great views, good news, fantastic views from the switchbacks beside the high flowing giant are waiting for every adventurer. The amazing pool on top of Nevada Fall is also a great spot for swimming and taking pictures, just be very careful not to slip.
Address: Yosemite Valley, Yosemite NP, CA, US
Website: Nevada Falls
2. Wapama Falls
Situated on the northern wall of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park, Wapama Falls is a natural wonder which flows almost yearly. The falls have an extensive cascade at its base and two main drops angled abruptly 60 degrees to each other. The hike will not take you too long, within an easy 8.05 km (5 mi) hike through the O'Shaughnessy dam and tunnel - you can experience a rewarding view from the top. This is also great for a family hike.
Address: Hetch Hetchy Valley, Yosemite National Park, Tuolumne County, California, United States
Website: Wapama Falls
3. Bridalveil Falls
One of the renowned waterfalls in the Yosemite Valley is the Bridal Veil Falls. At 188 m (617 ft) in height, this fall is considered to be the tallest freefalls in Colorado. The beauty of Bridalveil Falls has lured adventurers from all over the world to bike, four-wheel drive, hike, and unravel the surrounding wilderness. Going here, you’ll also see a historic and privately-owned power plant that sits atop the falls.
Address: Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California
Website: Bridalveil Falls
4. Lower Yosemite Falls
Lower Yosemite Falls is composed of three cascades that when combined, it could reach a total height of 739 m (2,425 ft), which makes it the highest waterfall in the park. The best time to see this wonder is in the springtime when water is roaring off the falls, which can give you a scenery sandwich with breathtaking views. You can also hear the roar of the water louder and louder, as you walk further along the trail. The trail is very short and easy, which makes it great and safe for the whole family - oh, and you can bring your favorite canine too.
Lower Yosemite Falls
Address: Lower Yosemite Fall Trail, California 95389, USA
Website: Lower Yosemite Falls
5. Chilnualna Falls
Consisting of 73 m (240 ft) waterfall and several fantastic cascades in a dramatic scene, Chilnualna Falls is a little-known part of Yosemite but, should not be missed to see. If you want to visit this beauty, you have to hike the trail which passes by the panoramic Lower Cascade of Chilnualna Creek. As you ascend on switchbacks through a forest of pine, cedar trees, and oak, the climb eases. After turning east you reach the best view of Chilnualna Falls.
Address: Yosemite National Park, California, United States
Website: Chilnualna Falls
6. Staircase Falls
Staircase Falls. These are rarely seen at Yosemite unless it has been a very wet year. iPhone 8 Plus.Posted by Mike Ahmadi on Wednesday, 19 June 2019
Situated on Gossamer Creek, behind Camp Curry on cliffs below Glacier Point, Staircase Falls is another beauty in Yosemite National Park that must be added on the list to see. These falls are relatively ephemeral, you can only see them during a very wet year. It falls downward, a total of 400 m (1,300 ft), over a series of steps into Yosemite Valley.
Address: Staircase Falls, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389, USA
Website: Staircase Falls
7. Vernal Falls
With Vernal Falls’ majestic beauty, from a breathtaking view to spectacular downstream - truly, Vernal Falls has become one of Yosemite’s sought-after destination for the nature enthusiast. Situated just downstream of Nevada Fall on the Merced River, Vernal Falls is a 96.6 m (317 ft) waterfall, which is clearly transparent from a distance like its upstream neighbor. The hike to the top of Vernal Falls is a combination of exhaustion and excitement as you journey via Mist Trail, but a rewarding view awaits making all that sweat is worth it.
Address: Vernal Fall, California 95389, USA
Website: Vernal Falls
8. Illilouette Falls
Situated on the left tributary of the Merced River, right on the Illilouette Creek, you are bound to witness the beauty of Illilouette Falls. This gorgeous fall is a 110 m (370 ft) waterfall, which can be seen from the trail to Nevada and Vernal Falls. For safety measures during low-flow months, it is better not to reach the base of the falls.
Address: Illilouette Falls, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California, US
Website: Illilouette Falls
9. Upper Yosemite Falls
Upper Yosemite Falls with 790 m (2,600 ft) from the top of Yosemite Falls can be considered as the “mother of all Stairmaster workouts”. But as you reach the top, unique reward and experience await you, an experience that you won’t get in any other place: dramatic scene and magnificent views of Yosemite Valley. Upper Yosemite trail is extremely exhausting and mostly steep. It is an incline with 11.59 km (7.2 mi) round trip or about six and a half hours’ journey. If you decide to hike all day, this is a very good choice.
Upper Yosemite Falls
Address: Yosemite Falls Trail, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389, USA
Website: Upper Yosemite Falls
10. Ribbon Falls
Presenting the longest single-drop waterfall in North America, Ribbon Fall is another wonder to behold. This one flows off a cliff that is situated on the west side of El Capitan. The fall is fed by melting winter snow, which adds to its beauty and character. In spring, the fall can reach a spectacular 491 m (1,612 ft), while in winter months, an ice cone forms at its base similar to the Upper Yosemite Fall.
Address: Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, California, United States
Website: Ribbon Falls
Fall in love with Yosemite's waterfalls
Yosemite National Park is a combination of nature’s beauty, from deep valleys to ancient large sequoias to towering granite monoliths and waterfalls. Among all of these, it is easier to fall in love with its waterfalls that can give you worth a million view. Yup, there’s always a new perspective looking at these beauties from above and below.
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