After getting back on the main road, you'll see El Capitan looming off to your left, but just before the enormous monolith, you'll see this high, thin waterfall pouring from the peak just before El Capitan. It is so high (1612 feet!!) and distant that it looks almost delicate, but it's actually a fairly big splasher called the Ribbon Fall (although it only flows during the spring and early summer months). It empties into Ribbon Creek which runs through El Capitan Meadow below.
This is one of the tallest waterfalls in the world dropping 1612 feet but can only be viewed through the spring months. I've heard by July it will be dried up. Luckily for me we had a very rainy winter and deep snow pack so all the falls in the park were spectacular.
It's located next to El Capitan and can be viewed from the meadows in the Yosemite Valley. Directly across from it and more impressive is Bridalveil Falls.
There are no trails leading to Ribbon Falls.
easily seen to the left of El Capitan from the Valley road, Ribbon creek drops a sheer 1,612 feet, making this the highest single drop waterfall in North America.
It is best to observe it in late Spring or early Summer since it usually dries up before most other falls.
Ribbon Fall often goes unnoticed by park visitors, despite the fact it is the tallest free-falling waterfall in the US. Just west of El Capitan, Ribbon Fall plunges 1,612 feet from the rim of the valley to the valley floor; however, it usually dries out in June (I was lucky) since it only drains an area of 4 square miles. The fall can be viewed from Southside Drive as well as the Bridalveil Fall trail.
Ribbon Falls may pale in comparison with Bridalveil Falls, but since they greet incoming travelers at roughly the same time, the less robust but much higher falls is worth a closer look. At 1,612 feet, Ribbon Falls enjoys the longest leap of any tumbler in the park, including the single plunge of Upper Yosemite Falls.
When taken in a panorama with the forest and the brooding cliffs that form Yosemite Valley, even such a sliver of falling water as Ribbon Falls enhances the frame. Ribbon Falls is well-named, since its runoff is still amazingly thin despite the height of the spring snowmelt.
Don't draw back too far though. Otherwise the Ribbon nearly disappears. In certain seasons the water barely appears at all. Like Yosemite Falls deeper into the Valley, the backdrop behind Ribbon Falls is a long shelf of mountain peaks and pine forests, usually snowbound into early June (though its effects on the falls vary considerably).
Ribbon Falls is often missed because it is dry in the later summer months, and because opposite it, in the western Yosemite Valley, is the very full and easy to access Bridal Veil Falls. Yet, Ribbon falls is among the world's highest falls at 1,612 feet. To locate Ribbon Falls look just west of El Capitan. During this year, the abundant rainfall made Ribbon Falls much more obvious.
To the left of El Capitan is the highest
drop of a waterfall in the US - Ribbon Falls.
It usually dries up by this time but in 1979
it was still flowing, but a little. I rode a
bicycle here from San Francisco Airport and over
through the San Joaquin Valley and up from Kings Canyon
Ribbon Falls is approriately named. It's narrow and hard to spot, tucked in a little nook next to El Capitan. It's one of the last waterfalls to appear in spring and one of the first to dry up as it only drains 4 small creeks. However, when Ribbon Falls can be seen, it is indeed and impressive sight. It is the highest single waterfall in the park and the highest single waterfall in North America falling 1,612 feet from the top of the cliff before it hits land again. In contrast, Upper Yosemite Falls plummets just 1,430 feet. When combined with the middle cascades (675 feet) and the Lower Falls (320 feet), Yosemite Falls totals 2,425 feet in 3 seperate falls. Ribbon Falls, because it dries up so early, is usually only seen in the late winter and early spring, best between March and May. After May it's rather iffy.
Ribbon Falls is one of the first and most impressive falls visitors will see when entering Yosemite Valley. At 1612 feet, it is also one of the tallest waterfalls in the world. This is however, a seasonal waterfall that only flows in the spring, usually until July. This waterfall is best viewed from a parking area about one-half mile east of Bridalveil Falls. There are no hiking trails to Ribbon Falls.
Ribbon Falls goes away in summer, so the best time to visit this beauty is definitely in spring. Here are images from Spring 2013, somewhat of a drought year, but just after a small rain storm. For those looking for it, Ribbon Falls is located on the west side of El Capitan, along the north rim of the Yosemite Valley. In some of these images, you can also see the west side of El Capitan, the monolithic rock climbers favorite. Of course, not much as changed with El Cap in thousands of years.