Yosemite Falls and Bridal Falls
Yosemite Sightseeing Attraction
As spectacular as the lush greenery and countless majestic rock formations of the famous Yosemite Valley are, the spectacular vistas afforded to visitors of this magical place would be lacking something very special without the countless waterfalls that cascade down from the valley’s granite peaks year-round. Housing some of the world’s most famous waterfalls, Yosemite is made truly unique by these natural wonders that seem somehow to grace every look one has from and at the valley. In total, there are dozens of waterfalls when counted in the springtime or after a large rainstorm, as smaller falls appear as outlets for the abundance of water during these times. However normally, there are five main, easily-accessible waterfalls: Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, Bridalveil Falls, and Illiouette Falls. All of these provide incomparable and memorable views and are not to be missed during your visit to the valley!
Yosemite Falls is actually three separate waterfalls in one – technically making it a “falls” and not a “waterfall.” Altogether the falls rank as the sixth highest waterfall in the world, making them a truly unforgettable site for all of the park’s more than 3.5 million visitors a year. The falls are fed by the Yosemite River, which flows for many miles along the upper regions of the park near the Tioga region and Eagle Creek Meadow before dropping dramatically over a small V-shaped “hanging valley” in the granite cliffs into the Yosemite Valley. The Upper Falls, dropping a total of 1430 feet total, are the most easily visible section of these falls. Grabbing the honor of being one of the 20 highest waterfalls in the world, this section’s misty plunge is one of the most frequently photographed falls in the park and cannot be missed! The middle section of the falls is the hardest to spot, as it is a series of cascades down craggy rocks, not an actual waterfall. The Yosemite Falls trail is the only way you can catch a glimpse of these hidden wonders, but the trail is very dangerous and slippery due to this mist of the Upper Falls’ descent. The lower falls are easily accessible via a viewing area right next to the base of the falls. This is as close as you may ever be able to get to the base of a waterfall without actually getting wet – so savor the experience! During the winter, an incredible cone of ice called “frazil ice” forms at the bottom of Yosemite Falls as ice attached to the cliff next to the Upper Falls breaks off and crashes dramatically to the bottom. This was first documented by naturalist John Muir when he compared it to the sound of reverberating thunder in his journals.
Vernal Falls, although smaller, ais just as worthy of visiting. Falling a total of somewhere between 250 and 300 feet, it does not break any height barriers, but its wide curtain of water makes it a majestic destination for all visitors. Easily accessible via the Mist Trail, the path takes hikers directly through the mist created by the rushing falls. If it is a time of heavy runoff you could be completely drenched by the time you make it through! This is one of the shortest and most popular trails in the park and is of only moderate difficulty.
Nevada Falls forms the upper half of a two-part fall, with the lower half being the aforementioned Vernal Falls. This connection is sometimes referred to as the “giant staircase,” because when viewed from lookouts like Glacier point, which affords viewers a spectacular view of both falls, the combination looks like an enormous staircase. To reach Nevada Falls, one must take an additional 2-mile hike directly uphill from the top of Vernal Falls, but once there you can attain a spectacular vista of the valley and the Falls alike. One should be advised that although there are pools directly before both sections of this cascade spills over, and that many more foolish visitors enjoy taking a “dip” in the pools, doing so is highly unwise, as there are dangerous undercurrents mostly invisible to the average viewer.
Bridalveil Fall is almost as famous as Yosemite Falls, in that it is very easily and dramatically viewed from many points in the valley. This is probably the most clear-cut example of a “hanging valley” fall among all Yosemite National Park’s waterfalls. When the main Sherwin Age glacier that moved through Yosemite Valley existed, tributary glaciers joined into it from the higher sides of the valley, creating sloped, V-shaped wedges that now host many of Yosemite’s waterfalls. They get their name because when the wind is blowing very hard, the falls’ relatively lighter flow is blown dramatically sideways, and its resulting mist appears must as a bride’s veil.