A Tour of 10 Stunning Waterfalls in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park has countless waterfalls. A tour of the massive park can yield many small waterfalls, but we wanted to take a tour to the giant falls that you’ll never forget. From the thousand foot waterfalls to the ones that seem like they’re on fire (they’re not), Yosemite is the perfect place to chase waterfalls.




Here is a tour of ten Yosemite waterfalls that you’ll never forget:

1. Yosemite Falls (2,425 ft)

Flows: approximately November through July, with peak flow in May.

Look for the ice cone at the base of the upper fall during winter and for roaring runoff April through June. Yosemite Falls, one of the world’s tallest, is actually made up of three separate falls: Upper Yosemite Fall (1,430 feet), the middle cascades (675 feet), and Lower Yosemite Fall (320 feet).

You can see Yosemite Falls from numerous places around Yosemite Valley, especially around Yosemite Village and Yosemite Valley Lodge. A one-mile loop trail leads to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall.

2. Bridalveil Fall (620 feet)

Flows: all year, with peak flow in May.

This is often the first waterfall visitors see when entering Yosemite Valley. In spring, it thunders; during the rest of the year, look for its characteristic light, swaying flow.

You can see Bridalveil Fall from near the tunnels on the Wawona Road or Big Oak Flat Road and from a signed parking lot on your way into Yosemite Valley. You can walk to the base via a short but steep trail in just a few minutes.




3. Sentinel Falls (about 2,000 feet)

Flows: approximately March through June, with peak flow in May.

This waterfall is located on the south side of Yosemite Valley, just west of Sentinel Rock. It is comprised of multiple cascades, which range in height from 50 – 500 feet.

You can see this waterfall from areas along Southside Drive near the Sentinel Beach Picnic Area, and near the Four Mile Trailhead. Alternatively, you can view it from across Yosemite Valley near Leidig Meadow, or while hiking the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail.

4. Nevada Fall (594 feet)

Flows: all year, with peak flow in late May.

You can see Nevada Fall (from a distance) at Glacier Point. The road to Glacier Point is open approximately late May through sometime in November. A wheelchair-accessible trail is available to the viewpoint when the road is open.



5. Ribbon Fall (1,612 feet)

Flows: approximately March through June, with peak flow in May.

You can see Ribbon Fall from the road as you drive into Yosemite Valley, just beyond the turn for Bridalveil Fall.

6. Horsetail Fall (1,000 feet)

Flows: approximately December through April.

Horsetail Fall is famous for appearing to be on fire when it reflects the orange glow of sunset in mid- to late-February. It falls off of the east side of El Capitan and is best seen from just east of El Capitan.

To see Horsetail Fall, park at the El Capitan picnic area or in turnouts just east of the picnic area. You can see the waterfall from the road.




7. Vernal Fall (317 feet)

Flows: all year, though by mid to late summer, it narrows and separates into one, two, or three falls as water flows decrease; peaks in late May.

You can see Vernal Fall at Glacier Point. The road to Glacier Point is open approximately late May through sometime in November. A wheelchair-accessible trail is available to the viewpoint when the road is open

8. Illilouette Fall (370 feet)

Flows: all year, with peak flow in late May.

While many hikers notice this waterfall as they’re hiking toward Vernal Fall, the best place to see it is on the Panorama Trail, a few miles from Glacier Point. This waterfall is not visible from any road; it’s only visible by hiking on steep trails.



9. Wapama Falls (1,400 feet)

Flows: all year, with peak flow in May.

Relatively few people visit Hetch Hetchy Valley to see this roaring waterfall. In some springs, the water from this fall flows over the footbridges near its base.

You can see this waterfall from the parking lot at O’Shaughnessy Dam or you can hike on an uneven trail to near its base.

10. Chilnualna Falls (about 2,200 feet)

Flows: all year, with peak flow in May

This waterfall, located in Wawona, hides behind twists and turns in the rock; it’s impossible to see the entire fall at the same time.

You can’t see this waterfall from a road; the only way to see the fall is to hike to its top via a steep trail.

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