10 Stunning Waterfalls in Yosemite

Written by Volia Nikaci
Published: June 8, 2022
© Andrew S/Shutterstock.com
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In California’s Sierra Nevada, Yosemite National Park is an excellent example of a natural setting that remains untouched. Old, massive sequoias and El Capitan’s granite cliffs are all amazing sights to see. Yosemite was formed by glacial action over millions of years, and some glaciers still exist today. This also means that there are waterfalls scattered all throughout the park, a few of which are truly breathtaking.

We’ve compiled a list of the top ten Yosemite waterfalls so you can check out the park and go waterfall chasing.

1. Bridalveil Fall

bridalveil waterfalls
Bridalveil Fall is a popular waterfall in Yosemite Valley, California.

©Andrew S/Shutterstock.com

Bridalveil Fall
LocationYosemite National Park, California
Nearby AttractionYosemite Valley
Animals to SeeMule Deer, Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel

As you approach Yosemite Valley, Bridalveil Fall, at 620 feet (189 meters), is often the first waterfall you’ll see. Although it flows rapidly in the spring, it can also be breathtaking when the wind catches the water and raises it aloft during low flow periods. The Ahwahneechee Indians called it Pohono “Spirit of the Puffing Wind” because of the way the water appears to drop sideways in heavy winds.

2. Nevada Fall

nevada falls
Nevada Fall, located in Yosemite National Park, is a 594-foot-high waterfall on the Merced River.

©Volkv/Shutterstock.com

Nevada Fall
LocationYosemite National Park, California
Nearby AttractionVernal Falls
Animals to SeeBobcats, Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep

Since it is fed by the Merced River, Nevada Fall is around 594 feet tall and runs all year. Because the water twists as it descends, it hits rocks and turns white as a result. In Spanish, Nevada means covered with snow, but in the native American language, it is called Yo-wy-we. This is a spectacular waterfall in Yosemite that you can’t afford to miss!

3. Vernal Fall

vernal falls
Vernal Fall, located downstream of Nevada Fall on the Merced River, is a 317-foot waterfall in Yosemite.

©Dancestrokes/Shutterstock.com

Vernal Fall
LocationYosemite National Park, California
Nearby AttractionsHappy Isles
Animals to SeeWestern Tanager, Great Grey Owl

Vernal Fall is a 317-foot waterfall located on one of the most popular walks in the park, which contributes to the route’s name (the Mist Trail). In order to reach the falls, hikers ascend a nearby rock stairway and are frequently soaked with mist. Vernal Falls is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Yosemite. The road to Glacier Point is a little further away, but you can see it from there whenever it is open, which is normally from the end of May until November.

4. Horsetail Fall

horsetail falls
Horsetail Fall is a seasonal waterfall that flows in the winter and the early spring.

©Gregory B Cuvelier/Shutterstock.com

Horsetail Fall
LocationYosemite National Park, California
Nearby AttractionEl Capitan
Animals to SeeSkunks, Mountain Lion

Despite only having running water for only a few months in the winter and early spring, Horsetail Fall is still well worth checking out. Yosemite’s legendary Firefall occurs in February when the setting sun strikes the fall at the precise angle that creates the glowing effect in the water. The park runs under strict restrictions in the afternoons and evenings during the few weeks when the Firefall is most likely to occur to limit crowds.

5. Ribbon Falls

ribbon falls
Ribbon Falls is an exquisite waterfall visible only on the west side of El Capitan in early spring.

©McDow Photo Inc/Shutterstock.com

Ribbon Falls
LocationYosemite National Park, California
Nearby AttractionBridalveil Falls
Animals to SeeFoxes, Weasels

With a height of over 1,600 feet, Ribbon Fall is North America’s tallest single-drop waterfall. In addition, it’s in a great spot, just west of El Capitan. Even though it’s tall, it still gets less attention than it’s worth because everything it’s surrounded by in the park is so beautiful. Also, its season is short, sometimes just lasting until the snow melts in June.

6. Yosemite Falls

yosemite falls
Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in Yosemite National Park, falling a total of 2,425 feet from the upper to lower falls.

©A.Hornung/Shutterstock.com

Yosemite Falls
LocationYosemite Village, CA
Nearby AttractionYosemite National Park
Animals to SeeBlack Bear, American Dipper

Yosemite Falls is America’s highest waterfall, and it is actually three waterfalls in one. Since it flows virtually all year round, it’s one of the easiest falls for people of all ages and abilities to access. In total, Yosemite Falls cascades 1850 feet down the cliffs, with a 675-foot drop between its top section (1430 feet) and its lower section (320 feet).

7. Sentinel Falls

sentinel falls
Sentinel Falls is a series of waterfalls that flow into Yosemite Valley.

©Alxcrs/Shutterstock.com

Sentinel Falls
LocationYosemite National Park, California
Nearby AttractionYosemite Valley
Animals to SeeSierra Fence Lizard, Sierran Tree Frog

Sentinel Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in Yosemite, cascades from Sentinel Rock on the park’s south side to Yosemite Valley below in the spring and early summer. The falls are divided into six drop parts. When the falls are in full flow, they may be seen from numerous spots along Southside Drive in the Valley. It is underappreciated despite its height given Yosemite’s many attractions, such as Yosemite Falls.

8. Illilouette Falls

Illilouette Falls
Illilouette Fall is a 381-foot waterfall on the Merced River’s Illilouette Creek branch.

©Mcking22/Shutterstock.com

Illilouette Falls
LocationYosemite National Park, California
Nearby AttractionIllilouette Creek
Animals to SeeNorthern Alligator Lizard, Mountain Lion

Ililouette Fall is one of the lesser-known waterfalls in Yosemite. It is difficult to view from any vantage point within the Valley, so it is not widely accessible. It is kind of like a prize for hikers who can manage to take on one of the more difficult hikes. You can see the waterfall from a side angle along the hiking path en route to Vernal Fall during high flow months, but it is also best seen closer to Glacier Point along the Panorama Trail.

9. Chilnualna Falls

Chilnualna Falls
Above the Wawona Valley, the Chilnualna Falls are five enormous cascades that tumble over and through granite formations.

©Mordy Neuman/Shutterstock.com

Chilnualna Falls
LocationYosemite National Park, California
Nearby AttractionWawona Valley
Animals to SeeGround Squirrel, Steller’s Jay

Since the road blocks your view of Chilnualna and the path of the water twists and bends, the entirety of the waterfall is not visible from a single spot. The level of Chilnualna Creek ranges from 30 to 300 feet. While the height of the falls is unknown, they run all year, peaking around May. You can hike up to the top of the falls, however, there is a great deal of uphill hiking that will take several hours to complete. From the trail, there is a view that is about 1/4 mile away.

10. Lehamite Falls

Lehamite Falls
Lehamite Falls is a waterfall on Indian Canyon, near Yosemite Falls, which is commonly overlooked.

©Eric Polk / Creative Commons – License

Lehamite Falls
LocationYosemite National Park, California
Nearby AttractionYosemite Falls
Animals to SeePacific Treefrog, Yosemite Toad

The Lehamite Falls are a series of cascades that descend down Indian Canyon to Yosemite Valley. In some ways, it can be overshadowed by its neighboring waterfall, Yosemite Falls. In addition to being among the most erratic and changeable, the falls are sometimes only in effect for a couple of weeks each year. During the early afternoon, Cook Meadow is the best vantage point because there is no shadow to impede the view.


The Featured Image

bridalveil waterfalls
© Andrew S/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Volia Nikaci is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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