Cascade Falls, Yosemite National Park
The slender and often ignored Cascade Falls on appropriately named Cascade Creek is the first falls seen when entering Yosemite Valley by the Big Oak Flat entrance. There is a tunnel on the road just before the falls, and a turn-out where one can safely park to observe the falls and also the Yosemite Valley from perhaps a 1000 ft above the valley floor. The falls are seen on the left, and cascade under a bridge in a rush of water during spring and early summer. The falls are distinctive for the narrow and steep tumble down the cliff of rock, without any significant vertical drop before it reaches the area of the road.
Most visitors to Yosemite don't even know this waterfall exists; yet this waterfall cascades over 1,000 feet down to the Merced River. There are two good areas to view this waterfall; one is on Hwy 120, the Big Oak Flat Road; the other is on Hwy 140 between Yosemite Valley and El Portal. The view from Big oak Flat Road shows a creek cascading down the mountainside; but from Hwy 140, Cascade Creek suddenly free-falls at least 80 feet, making the most picturesque part of the fall. There are pullouts at both viewpoints; at the one of Hwy 140, two interpretive signs tell of early travel to Yosemite Valley and the major and minor waterfalls of the valley.
On the day after Earth Day, I took some friends to Yosemite for a day. After entering via the Big Oak Flat Entrance, we drove through to the valley floor. Along the way is Cascade Falls. This is also a place for a good view of the valley in general, and a great place to pose for photos. This year, 2011, the precipitation was abundant in the Sierras, and so the falls were spectacular. Cascade Falls were a treacherous flow of water over huge granite boulders.
These are the first falls you come to after you go through the entrance and were very impressive when I stopped to take a snap. They say you can get to the base but I tried on two days and still haven't found the track.
Still I like to think I got a couple of nice shots of the creek below the actual main cascades. They fall 500 feet if you're interested.
They're formed by the joining of Cascade and Tamarack Creeks in a hanging valley and then they drop into the Merced.
The first major waterfall that we saw at Yosemite was at Cascade Creek. It is about 7 miles into the Park from the Arch Rock entrance on CA Route 140. It was spectacular. But it isn't Yosemite Falls.
If you drive through Yosemite, you'll end up stopping along with the hordes and taking lovely pictures at the different pull offs. This is Cascade Creek.