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 most popular waterfall in Yosemite National Park is Yosemite Falls. There is an upper portion and a lower portion of the falls. It is also the waterfall that has the highest volume of water flowing down it. It is seen in many pictures and paintings. I even saw a portrait of Yosemite Falls being sold for quite a bit of change on the day I wrote the page.
You can get up close to Lower Yosemite Falls. The best place to get a picture of both the Lower Yosemite and Upper Yosemite Falls is on the path that takes you the Lower Falls. The upper falls are accesible to climbers.
One of the longest drop falls in the world - I think it ranks number three. The total drop is 2425 ft. These falls are the most easily approached in Yosemite, just an easy stroll through the trees from the parking area near the Yosemite Lodge to the base of the lower falls.
This was taken in December when the volume of water was very low. In spring when the meltwater is flowing the viewing area can get very wet.
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 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.
A few turns to the left away from Half Dome reveals a better (topside) panorama of the three separate stages of Yosemite Falls. The picture here does not do justice to the scene, but you can tell by looking closely that the lower and upper sections are set back several hundred feet from one another.
Move over Niagara - height dominates width. This awesome, three-part 2,425 foot waterfall is far and away the most impressive "living" thing in Yosemite. There are so many vantages from which to capture this miraculous spectacle, but don't wait until later summer when the output dies down, and make sure that your shutter speed is as high as possible under the conditions.
There are simply not enough views from which to observe this incredible combination of snow and granite and forest and river. The composition is beyond belief and few pictures (certainly not mine) can do it justice. Once you think you've seen it from every perspective, you can infinitely multiply your appreciation by hunting out every conceivable isolated detail.
Yosemite Falls is actually three separate leaps, the highest of which is by far the tallest. The middle section actually carries the falls several hundred feet out from the valley wall before the lower falls drops over 300 feet into a creek that feeds the Merced River (buried within the trees in the present photo). In 1997, the perspective of this photo would have been impossible, due to the worst flooding in Yosemite in over a century.
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