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The Return of Yosemite Falls

November 18, 2012 Posted by: BW - Volunteer Interpreter

Each year in late summer and autumn, visitors to Yosemite are faced with a troubling question. Where is Yosemite Falls? Some find it hard to believe that the highest waterfall in North America, and one of the highest-profile features of Yosemite Valley, completely disappears every year. This is due in part to the fact that the majority of the water in Yosemite Falls comes directly from snowmelt. Typically, that snow is gone by the end of July and doesn't return until November, and the waterfall does the same. This year, the ephemeral behavior of Yosemite Falls was made worse by the very dry weather, one of the driest years on record. 

A series of storms this past weekend produced just under two inches of rain in Yosemite Valley bringing life back to the Falls. Yosemite Falls will likely flow all winter long as the snow builds in the high country of the park.

Yosemite Falls with a little bit of water

Upper Yosemite Fall, November 2012

Yosemite Valley, BW, Water-Rock-Wind

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Did You Know?

Sierra Sweet Bay

In Wawona and downstream, the South Fork Merced River provides habitat for a rare plant, the Sierra sweet bay (Myrica hartwegii). This special status shrub is found in only five Sierra Nevada counties. In Yosemite, it occurs exclusively on sand bars and river banks along the South Fork Merced River downstream from Wawona and on Big Creek.