Yosemite Falls, at 2,425 spectacular feet, is the highest waterfall in North America and the fifth tallest in the World. The falls consist of 3 tiers with an Upper Fall at 1,430 feet, the Middle Cascade at 675 feet and the Lower Fall of 320 feet.
To see Yosemite Falls in all its glory requires some timing. Yosemite Falls is the outlet for some 40 square miles of high Sierra and the amount of water is a factor of how much snow has fallen and how fast it is melting.
Yosemite Falls Best in the Spring
The month of May is generally the peak and the runoff is so torrential that getting anywhere near Yosemite Falls is a sure recipe for getting totally soaked from the splatter and mist.
As summer wears on the flow diminishes and by late autumn the Falls may be completely dry. In winter a trickle of water forms a snow cone at the base of Yosemite Falls up to 200 feet high. Starting in early April it is often possible to see a “moonbow” on nights with a full moon.
You can walk to Yosemite Falls from the Lodge, park at the Falls parking lot, or take one of the frequent Park shuttles to the #6 Yosemite Falls Shuttle Stop.
Take the main paved trail to get to the Falls and you will be awed by one of the most spectacular views in Yosemite. All three tiers of the Falls are perfectly framed by towering evergreen trees.
Informational displays along the trail to Yosemite Falls explain about the geology of the Falls. Continue walking to the wooden bridge at the base of the Falls. Heed the warning signs and do not attempt to climb over rocks to get closer to the base of the falls. Many hikers have lost their lives on the slippery rocks over the years.[sam id=1 codes=’false’]
Yosemite Falls Hiking
There is a hiking trail that will take you to the top of the falls starting from Camp 4. The ascent is long and steep with 135 switchbacks and the trail is only recommended if you are in good shape and have the time. The view from the top looking down is a heart-stopping thrill and not recommended if you’re afraid of heights.
A worthy option if you aren’t up for the full ascent to the top of Yosemite Falls is to continue from the trail head only 1.2 miles to Columbia Point, about 80 switchbacks and 1,000 feet, up for a very dramatic view of the valley.