The snow and rain had fallen pretty hard over the Sierra Nevada mountains and National Forest last winter. So even as late as may, there was still snow up to 10 inches in some areas of the park. This meant the water volume from the falls was high. we were excited to take the short hike to the bottom of the falls to see the water drop thousands of feet from above.
The falls is majestic, ranked fifth in the world, it is definitely worth the journey. The hike to the falls from the bus stop is short and is along a paved walk way. I found it easy to hike with my family and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing it.
From Yosemite Center, we took a bus to Yosemite Falls, right when you get off, is the beginning of the hike path, it's an easy one, cemented, perfect if you have small children in strollers. The highest waterfall of the U.S, Yosemite Falls, can be seen about a minute after you start walking, it's amazing! The Area is just beautiful, we stopped to have lunch next to this little river and took great pictures with the whole family!!
The top of Yosemite Falls may be reached by a steep and strenuous 3.5-mile (5.6-km) trail of switchbacks near the Sunnyside Walk-in Campground. The top of the falls may also be reached via several routes from the Tioga Road to the north. Near the top of the falls, spray often generates a rainbow effect. Walking across the bare granite trail, one can find an overlook with railing that can also be seen using binoculars from the viewing platform at the base of the falls. While some have argued that Yosemite Falls is merely a "seasonal" falls, because it may dry up between late August and early September, this criticism is unfair given the granite strata of the Eagle Creek Meadow from which the water flows. Granite provides a very fast run off of snow melt, in contrast to earth soaked soils that feed other rivers and falls. In any case, Yosemite Falls is this parks most outstanding falls, and are best viewed between April and July.
UPDATE: See my other tip for Yosemite Falls, April 2011 for spectacular waterfall volume.
The rain and snow in the Sierras was at record levels during the 2010-2011 winter season, and so by April, the flow of water over the cliffs into the valley was sure to be a big event. Here are some images of Yosemite Falls during 2011. Since my last writing, the falls have been reduced in world standing, for some reason. Once labeled the second tallest in the world, Yosemite Falls are now ranked as 5th in the world, behind Angel Falls (Venezuela), Tugela (South Africa), Utigord (Norway), Monge (Norway), Gocta Cataracts (Peru), and Mutarazi (Zimbabwe). However, within the world's top 20 tallest, Yosemite's Sentinel (12) and Ribbons Falls (18) are important. These falls, normally dry in late summer, were spectacular in April 2011. See the separate tips for Ribbon and Sentinel Falls.
There are so many vista points in Yosemite and the scenery is magnificent but the one sight that stood out for me was the sight of Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest falls in the world, the tallest waterfall in North America at 2,425 feet. Only the upper and lower falls are visible from the valley, with the center section hidden from sight. Easy to get to and you will know why this fall is named after the valley. It describes the essence of Yosemite. Wild and carefree, beautiful and exhilarating. You can stand, sit, or lay down and just watch the mesmerizing water drop off the top of the shear cliff and plunge to the pool below. The highest volume of water occurs in the last weeks of May and the first weeks of June, making for the best viewing.
Falling thousands of feet, well maybe 1000 plus feet (300+ meters) but it's a long distance, then it falls over a second lip. Coming up to the bottom of the falls can be a wet experience. On a hot day, it's great.
The hike to the top of Yosemite Falls is a perfect example of a relatively difficult hike that you will see an incredibly wide range of people on. The Falls and the walk to their base are perhaps the park's most popular feature. This paved one mile loop is something everyone should do despite the crowds. The hike up to the top of the falls is another matter. It is basically a straight up climb out of Yosemite Valley that covers 2500 feet in 3.5 miles. It is strenuous and is icy in winter. You will see more huffing and puffing on this trail than perhaps any in the park.
I did it in 1994 and continued on to the top of El Capitan from there which was another 9 miles of relatively flat walking. The views were great and there was no one there so worth the effort. It was 24 miles round trip so a very long day trip but unless someone has climbed up the sheer face of it, it's unlikely anyone will spoil your solitude. There is a cool climber's chair made of stones to sit and have your much deserved lunch in.
Arguably the highest falls in North America, Yosemite Falls is actually a cascade with three sections. The total 2425-foot (739-m) distance from the top of the upper falls to the base of the lower falls qualifies Yosemite Falls as the 6th highest waterfall in the world, according to Wikipedia. In Spring when the snow is actively melting within the Eagle Creek Meadow watershed that feeds the Yosemite Creek, the Upper Yosemite falls project off a V cut in the granite precipice in an impressive show of force and spray. The Upper Yosemite Falls (1430 ft; 425-m) themselves qualify as one of the top 20 of the world's highest falls, depending upon the method of measurement. In the middle section, well hidden from below by granite cliffs, is a casade over rock of another 675 feet (205 m). The Lower Yosemite Falls (320 ft; 97-m) provides the final drop that is easily viewed by tourists from a viewing platform and bridge below. The Lower Yosemite Falls are surprisingly broad, and can generate a larger volume of mist below, as the water crashes onto a a jumbled assembly of huge boulders at the foot of the falls. The paved trail and boardwalk from the parking lot make the falls accessible by wheelchair, and there are a variety of spur viewing spots from which great images can be taken.
Visit in the Spring and you will experience a thundering Yosemite Falls. Stop by in July or August and you'll see just the merest trickle sliding down its side. One of the world's tallest falls just sort of fizzles out in the summer!
While my husband and grandson hiked to the Merced River, I set my sights on Yosemite Falls. Our base was Yosemite Village that afternoon, so we headed out in opposite directions.
After walking about ten minutes, I came to a viewing sight containing benches upon which a number of people were seated.
This area overlooked huge boulders strewn about a dry creekbed, which led to the base of Yosemite Falls. Several people were climbing their way to the falls, so I joined in (picture 4).
Being of short stature and having legs to match, stretching myself up and over these BIG boulders was a real effort!
After about 25 minutes, I had managed to get close enough to the Falls to take photos 2 & 3. Enlarge them and look closely, you'll see thin ribbons of water dribbling down its steep sides.
FYI: Snowmelt primarily feeds Yosemite Falls, whose ample flow peaks in late May and dries up in the hotter months of the year. Around November, the snows come and supply the falls with vast volumns of water once more (picture 5).
Three falls actually comprise Yosemite Falls:
Upper Yosemite Falls-1,430 feet
Middle Cascades 675 feet
Lower Yosemite Fall 320 feet
This is the toughest hike that I took at Yosemite. It's about seven and a half miles, with a vertical climb of over 2,000 feet. It's a serious challenge for even the fittest hiker, but the view is awesome, especially from the top. Take your time; it's too easy to slip and fall on your face. Allow at least several hours for this.
This is, after Angel Falls in Venezuela, the tallest waterfall in the world. It's especially spectacular during the spring, after a heavy snowfall. As summer progresses, it often slows to a mere trickle, and may even peter out completely.
The bottom of the Falls is only a short hike from the trailhead. This is one of Yosemite's most famous--and most visited--attractions. During the tourist season, it gets very crowded.
Yosemite Falls is the 6th largest falls in the world in terms of total drop from the top to the bottom (or 19th if you believe www.world-waterfalls.com). The total drop is 2,425 feet, but the main upper falls comprise 1,430 feet, followed by the 675 foot middle cascades, and finally the lower falls at 320 feet. Yosemite Creek flows over Yosemite Falls and is fed mainly by snow melt from the higher elevations, meaning the falls rarely run after late summer.
I caught several views of Yosemite Falls from the valley along Southside and Northside Drives. The area directly in front of the entrance to Curry Village is probably the most popular vantage point with cars pulled off to both sides of the road from sun up to sun down. Use caution driving though here as the speed limit is 35 mph, but people will often stop in the middle of the road to take a photo.
From the valley floor, only the upper Yosemite Falls are visible. You can catch a glimpse of the lower falls from the John Muir Trail near Vernal Falls. The best views of Yosemite Falls are from the Lower or Upper Yosemite Falls Trails. The lower trail is an easy 2 mile round trip out-and-back trail. The upper trail is a strenuous 7.2 mile round trip out-and-back with a 2,700 foot climb.
The base of Yosemite Falls is an easy walk from Shuttle Bus #6 near the Yosemite Lodge. Impressive views of both the upper and lower falls are seen on the path to the base. The 2 Yosemite Falls, and and intermediate cascade, drop 2425 feet and combine to make this the tallest waterfall in North America.
We definately enjoyed the views and tried some of the foot-paths. The biggest surprise we had was when we arrived near Upper Yosemite Fall. We heared from a lot of people that this fall is very impressive because of it's powerful falling mass of water.
When we arrived near the fall it didn't even look like a dripping tap. It was completely dry. We learned that the falls are only really active in the spring when the melting glaciers are providing lot's of water for the falls in Yosemite.
How does one describe the falls. Well, lots of water, crashing down to create one of the most amazing scenes in nature.
The falls are created from Yosemite Creek and fall a total of 2,425 feet, consisting of Upper Yosemite Falls and Lower Yosemite Falls.
The highest waterfalls on the continent is actually made up of three falls that are on top of each other - they fall nearly 2,500 feet! Unfortunately, they are most powerful right after the snow melts in the spring and can be completely gone by the fall. You can still see where the water stained the rocks, but it requires a lot of imagination to get as much out of the experience!
There's a very short trail to the base of the falls, but you can also hike a fairly difficult trail up to the top.