World Famous Yosemite Falls

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Seeing Yosemite Falls is my first clue to how much snow and rain has come to Yosemite since the last time I was here. Not long after you come into the valley, this magnificent waterfall comes into view. I always know that if water is flowing over the edge, probably most, if not all the waterfalls are flowing nicely here. 

Yosemite National Park has several waterfalls but this is the most famous of them all! This beautiful waterfall consists of three parts. The Upper Falls, The Lower Falls and a cascade of water in between. The upper part is 1,430 feet tall. The lower part is 320 feet tall. The cascade in the middle is 675 feet.

All combined the water falls 2,425 feet, almost a half of a mile! This is the tallest waterfall in North America. It is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls of the world.

Most people don't realize that the lower fall is twice as high as Niagara Falls. Yet the lower fall is less than one-forth the height of Yosemite's upper fall.

Granite does not absorb the water. However, layers of frost in the winter will gradually loosen the layers of granite and every once in awhile chunks of granite will actually fall away. In 1975 a large patch of granite fell away and It left a light gray spot to the left at the base of the upper falls.

The Falls In The Spring

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I really think that all visitors should go to the base of lower Yosemite Falls. It only takes 15 minutes to get to the base where there is a bridge that gives you a beautiful view of Lower Yosemite Falls. The trail to the lower falls is wheelchair accessible, easy to push a stroller on. I promise that children of all ages and people of all sizes can make it! And as a bonus, the trail is shaded :)

I will warn you that when the water is going at full force you will get wet when standing on the bridge at the lower falls!

The bridge at the base of the falls gives you a beautiful view of the lower falls. Once on the bridge, you can only see the lower waterfall. You cannot see the top waterfall or the cascades in the middle. You do get to see all three parts of the waterfall on a good portion of your 15 minute walk to the base of the falls.

If the water is not at a high level you may climb on the rocks to the pool at the base of the falls and take a cold swim. But if the water is high, I wouldn't climb on the rocks or swim in the pool. It's absolutely not safe.

I love taking pictures at Lower Yosemite Falls

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My family climbing around the base & swimming in the pool at the falls ~

If you don't want to climb rocks, I think that you should just find the perfect rock and bask in the sun!

See Yosemite Frazil Ice & The Snow Cone At The Base Of Yosemite Falls

Our Hike To The Top

I kid you not, hiking to top of Yosemite Falls is a tough hike because of the steep and dusty and at times very rocky trail. I've been to the top 5 times and let me tell you, the view is worth it :)

The hike is 3.6 miles straight up and will take you approximately 5-6 hours to get to the top.

We found it best to leave around 7 am so that we could have a few hours up on top before heading back to the valley. There are guard rails at the observation point for safety reasons. We have seen a bobcat and a snake while hiking this trail in the past. So keep your eyes opened for the Yosemite wildlife :)

I want to tell you to carry plenty of drinking water with you on this hike. There is no water until you get to the top of the falls. The hike takes you along the side of the mountain, no where near the waterfall itself. If you get dehydrated, the Yosemite Search and Rescue Team just may have to come and get you and you really don't want that to happen!

You can also get to the top on an easier Yosemite hiking trail from Tuolumne Meadows. When our kids were younger, it was much easier for them to hike from Tuolumne over to the top of the falls. This is because your already above the valley floor and the trail is much more flat and at times slightly down hill (and much more shaded.) This is much easier than hiking straight up!

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The waterfall takes on different beauty with the amount of water that falls from it. If there is not water flowing, you can easily see the stain from the years of water on the face of the granite wall.

The falls iced up

The falls with a trickle of water

The falls all dried up

When the snow melts in the spring, you will see water pour forth like no other time. By summer and autumn the water is much less and sometimes reduced to a trickle. In fact, there have been many years where I have seen the fall completely dried up.

Moonbows At Yosemite Falls

I think the moon bow is best seen at Lower Yosemite Falls.

On a night that has a full moon and water spilling forth, we go looking for a moon bow. A moon bow is an all white or a full colored rainbow seen only on a full moon night at the base of the waterfall. There is a full moon every 28 days, so you have 12 opportunities a year to see a moon bow (unless there are clouds). It is very cool and worthwhile to see :)

Yosemite Falls Webcam

See The 10 Most Famous Waterfalls Of The World

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