Yosemite National Park Waterfalls Approaching Full Throttle

With summer on its way, waterfalls in Yosemite National Park are roaring. NPT file photo of lip of Nevada Fall near full throttle by Kurt Repanshek.

Thanks to this past winter's hefty snowpack, the now-melting snow is accelerating the intensity of Yosemite National Park's waterfalls.

If you're fortunate enough to have the time to visit the park, a trip to the Yosemite Valley in the coming weeks should reward you with an incredible display of the park's waterworks.

Already Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite Fall, Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall are approaching full throttle, as are lesser falls such as Lehamite Falls, Illilouette Falls and Sentinel Fall.

Perhaps one of the best ways to experience this annual outpouring from the High Sierra is to hike the Mist Trail, which leads you up past Vernal Fall to the top of Nevada Fall. Expect to get wet on this hike, so you might want some rain gear, unless it's a particularly warm day.

Of course, while these waterfalls are gorgeous, they're also dangerous, so keep your distance and watch your kids.


I had the priviledge of living in Yosemite Valley for two years. The Valley is most exciting when the big waterfalls hit their peak in mid to late Spring. During this wonderful season of the year, one can literally "feel" the vibrations created by the sound of falling water.

I recall vividly one of my very last hikes as a Yosemite resident. It was in mid April 1971. The NPS park librarian, Larry Nahm, and I decided to scramble to the base of Ribbon Fall, located within a notch carved into the north wall of Yosemite Valley, just west of El Capitain. The fall was approaching full throttle, yet there was still a remnant of an ice cone at its base, protected by the shade provided by the notch in the granite wall and the chill of evening air.

Hiking along the western buttress of the granite notch, we discoverd a spout of water, gushing as from a spigot straight out from the granite wall mid-way between us and the top of the wall. There was no sign of a crack in the rock where water could get to the spout itself.

To the best of our knowledge, this water spout had no name. It was probably ephemeral, observed only at this time of year by those willing to scramble their way to the base of Ribbon Fall. For Larry and myself, it was our own personal discovery.

Owen Hoffman
Oak Ridge, TN 37830