Last updated: May 15, 2023
Bicycle - Rack, Bus/Shuttle Stop, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Picnic Table, Recycling, Restroom - Accessible, Restroom - Family, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Tactile Exhibit, Toilet - Flush, Trailhead, Trash/Litter Receptacles, Water - Drinking/Potable, Wheelchair Accessible
Yosemite Falls is made of the upper fall, middle cascades, and lower fall, all dropping a total of 2,425 ft. (740 m), and is one of the tallest waterfalls in the United States.
Source of the Falls
Yosemite Creek, which flows over this waterfall, is fed entirely by snow melt. At its peak in late spring, 2,400 gallons per second can flow over the lip of the upper fall. Yosemite Falls usually runs dry by late summer.
In winter, a cone of ice accumulates at the base of Upper Yosemite Fall. The height of the cone can reach as high as 322 feet, about as tall as a 25-story building, and is usually melted by mid-April.
As the full moon rises in April and May, the light is captured and refracted in the massive spray at the base of Lower Yosemite Fall, creating a phenomenon called a moonbow.
In early spring, frazil ice sometimes forms in waterfalls and creeks when waterfall mist becomes very cool. Ice crystals form and group into spongy masses which sometimes overflow the creek bed. In 1997 frazil ice was above the railing of the Lower Yosemite Fall bridge, almost completely burying it!
While you can visit Yosemite Falls year-round, there is often no water in Yosemite Fall by late summer.
Yosemite Falls flows over the north rim of Yosemite Valley. Access to the base of the waterfall is located on Northside Drive, near the Lower Yosemite Falls shuttle stop (Valley Shuttle #6), and across from the Yosemite Valley Lodge. The walk to the base of the waterfall is an easy 1 mile (1.6 km) hike which can be done as a loop.
Access to the top of Yosemite Falls is via the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail, located west of Lower Yosemite Fall near the Camp 4 Campground. Accessing the top of Yosemite Falls is a strenuous 7.2 mile (11.6 km) round-trip hike with 2,700 feet (823 m) of elevation gain. This trailhead can be accessed most easily by parking in the Yosemite Falls Parking Area or by using the free shuttle (Valley Shuttle #7).
Rules & Regulations
- Share the trail! Leashed pets and strollers are allowed.
- Bicycles are prohibited. Numerous bicycle racks are located at the two trailheads (east and west side of the Lower Yosemite Fall loop) for your convenience.
- Keep your food within arm's reach at all times and do not feed the wildlife.
Hazards & Warnings
Stay on the paved trail. Above the wooden footbridge that crosses Yosemite Creek, the rocks and boulders are slippery even when dry. Scrambling off-trail in this area frequently leads to serious injuries.
An accessible trail to access the base of Yosemite Falls is available near the shuttle stop. Only the eastern portion of the loop is accessible.