Water Falls, Yosemite National Park
Without John Muir, there may not be a Yosemite National Park. He was one of the most important and influential conservationists that the U.S. has ever known. He also had a hand in Grand Canyon, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and Mt. Rainier National Parks. and is sometimes referred to as The Father of Our National Park System.
About Yosemite he said, "It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter."
Ansel Adams, the famous photographer who spent a half a century capturing Yosemite's beauty on film, said this:
"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment."
and this . . .
"Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space."
and this . . .
"No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit."
Bouldering and climbing into the waterfalls. I know you are definitely supposed to stay on trail and so, professionally, I can't suggest this to you. But it's still fun...(or so I heard, right?) It can be slippery, make sure you have enough water to drink on the way up, don't be surprised if you have to scale trees just to get up to the next rock, and remember that any damage you do to your body just makes a good story later:) No, seriously...some of the waterfalls aren't bad to climb up to (where there is no trail) but don't do this where there are other people. There are certain people who would suggest Hetch Hetchy or Lake Eleanor to do this because it's pretty isolated.
Fondest memory: As stated above, this was. And the scars I have from sliding off of rocks and getting stuck in trees...(people who are tall will have no problem)
I was recently told that someone who offered the same tip was met with a bit of disapproval. I'm not saying you have to go do this, I am saying I had fun doing it...that's what this website is all about, right? unbiased tips and reviews?
For those of you who find statistics fascinating, Yosemite Falls are the fifth highest falls in the world. At least that's what the booklet the park ranger gave me says.
The top falls plunge 2,700 feet. I took the short trail to the lower falls, missing them completely, because there were no falls at that level. The area is also under construction, which made following the trails difficult. But if you have the time to hike to the top- which is about 3.5 miles, I hear its pretty impressive.
Lower Yosemite Falls is a short hike on a paved trail that leads to an overlook where you can view the falls. But not in the summer because there's construction going on and finding the path to the falls can be tricky. It gets even trickier when you find what is suppposedly the base of the falls and there's no water.
Needless to say, this confused me. But I spoke to several people who assured me that this dry rock area I was looking at was, in fact, the base of Lower Yosemite Falls.
Favorite thing: Wawona is a small town located just north of the south entrance. The area includes a golf course, hotel and a museum which has displays explaining Yosemite's history. Several of the old historic buildings remain on the property. A covered bridge just across the road from the hotel leads to the Pioneer Center, where you can walk around the original cabins built when this area was homesteaded in the 1800s.
The Ahwahneechee called this area "Pohono", meaning, spirit of the puffing wind." Apparently, the wind swirls above the cliff and lifts the water, blowing it from side to side. Since I visited on a calm day, I did not see any blowing wind or spirits.
Although it looks relatively small, Bridal Veil Falls actually descends from the same height as a 62 story building. Even so, its one of the smaller waterfalls in the park, as record-breaking Yosemite, Nevada and Ribbon Falls cascade from higher depths. But Bridal Veil Falls is easy to reach via a short trail over slippery granite rocks. Even if you're not up for slipping and sliding along the rocks, you can see the falls from the pathway leading from the Bridal Veil Falls parking area.
But alas the waterworks are shut off in mid-summer and by October just a few falls continue to trickle over the sides of the cliffs. The most famous falls of all, Yosemite Falls, does not even drip at this time of year.
Look at the photo and imagine if you will twenty times the volume of water crashing over the side of the cliff (Bridalveil Falls). Or better yet, pay a visit to mrclay's Yosemite page. That will give you a better idea of the falls in full force.
But autumn is a pleasant time in Yosemite. The skies were crystal clear and the temperature hovered right about 80F. Add in some glowing yellow aspen and brilliant red shrubberies and the park put forth a spectacular show in its own right.
Favorite thing: Yosemite Valley is obviously home to some of the greatest tumblers in the world. With such a concentration of winter snow in the highcountry, the number of cascades and waterfalls that come alive in the spring is almost overwhelming. Even though many go unnamed in park literature, the incognitos and no-names hold a special place in this miraculous valley.
Favorite thing: If you're looking to take pictures of waterfalls in Yosemite, make sure to go in spring. In summer, most of the falls are reduced to a trickle, and Yosemite Falls completely dries out. On the other hand, summer is the best time to get a picture of Bridalveil Falls, which never dries out.
I tend to write voluminous emails while I'm away. These record your thoughts at the time and on the spot and I've found can be very helpful in recording your emotions at the time.
The next couple of tips are from my all too brief time at Yosemite.
"The ice bounced off my head, a decidedly uncomfortable feeling when you’re bald, and the water, from another source entirely, blasted my face and drenched my clothing. I was cold and wet and pondered the wisdom of visiting such a place on a day like this.
And yet, at another point further on I felt like dropping to my knees and thanking Mother Nature for such a place. I’d seen the pictures a thousand times, knew what to expect.....so I thought.
Fondest memory: Yosemite, about which has been written, “If you only have time to do one national park in the U.S.A., then it must be Yosemite”, is like a painting.
The initial sketching and background is all about rock and water; lots of rock, and, especially today, lots of water; a bold palette of dominating scale. The colouring in is courtesy of new spring growth and the stunning variance in bird life. Flashy yellows, scarlet reds, emerald greens and vivid blues are all there for your eyes to feast on."
"There is so much water coming over them after all time record snowfalls that Bridal Veil, one of the two most popular, is unobtainable unless you wish to partake in a shower that starts 100 meters before the viewing platform.
Fondest memory: By the time you get another 50 metres you may turn around, as many do, or brave the elements and come away drenched after reaching the Vista Platform. Unless you have an underwater camera, it is nigh impossible to record the event.
The roar of water is everywhere in the canyon as the winter snows have more precipitation added to them on high. Dark clouds come and go, at times being replaced by blue sky that shows in small patches before being consumed by the rolling mass fuelled by the updraft."
Favorite thing: Wow, THIS is a waterfall! Nothing like the trickle it was in September of 2002. Now the warning signs of people dying who tried swimming in the river make sense! The winter snow-melt is awesome over this fall.
Favorite thing: I had to use an odd angle in order to capture this much of the falls. It was seriously roaring in mid-May 2002... Imagine how much water must be flowing! You know you are SOAKED with vernal water after hiking up the "mist trail" part of the journey.
Favorite thing: This is about as close to Yosemite Falls as you can get and still get all of the falls in a picture. It's SO tall and so beautiful and so awesome. This photo taken from the parking lot for the falls, though we were all riding bicycles through the valley on this day.