12 Mindblowing Waterfalls In Yosemite That Your Family Will Love

Ready to see some of the most stunning waterfalls in Yosemite? There are mind-blowingly beautiful waterfalls in Yosemite National Park ranging from 2,425 feet to 100 feet tall. Whether you want waterfalls that are easily accessible or ones that you have to hike to, you can find them in Yosemite.

Let’s get started!

waterfall with steps in foreground

Frequently Asked Questions About The Waterfalls In Yosemite

How Many Waterfalls Are In Yosemite?

There are more than twenty five waterfalls in Yosemite.

Is Yosemite Falls and Bridal Veil Falls The Same?

No. Yosemite Falls is the big sister of Bridal Veil Falls.

Is Yosemite Falls The Tallest Waterfall In North America?

Yup! Yosemite Falls is 2,425 feet above the valley floor.

How Difficult Is The Yosemite Falls Hike?

Pretty difficult. It is strenuous and we will get into detail about that below.

12 Mindblowing Waterfalls In Yosemite That You Will Love

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls is usually flowing between November and July with the peak flow occurring in the month of May. It is actually made up of three cascades, Upper Fall, the middle cascades, and Lower Yosemite Fall. You can get views of Yosemite Falls in various locations around the park including Yosemite Village and the Yosemite Valley Lodge.

To view the lower falls, you can take an easy one-mile loop trail that will take you to the base of the waterfall. If you take the eastern side of the loop from the shuttle stop, that part of the trail is wheelchair accessible.

To view the upper falls you will need to take the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. This trail is heavily trafficked as it leads to the most popular waterfall in the national park. It’s 7.6 miles out and back near Yosemite Valley. The best time to take this trail is between April and October. This trail is ranked hard in difficulty and includes features like narrow rock cliff portions of the trail, overlooks, and approximately 3200 feet of elevation gain.

This is a strenuous all-day hike. You need to be sure you are prepared for the 6-8 hours spent on the trail. it’s recommended that you have one liter of water for every two hours spent on the trail hiking.

wooden boardwalk leading to waterfall in background

Wildcat Falls

Wildcat Falls in Yosemite National Park is a great waterfall to visit if you want to avoid crowds. This waterfall is a bit more unheard of when compared to the popular Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls. This multi-tiered waterfall is 650 feet tall and creates a private retreat for visitors. The path to the falls is just 0.15 miles round trip.

If you are entering Yosemite National Park on Route 140, Wildcat Falls is the first fall you will come to. It’s located on the west side of Yosemite Valley. To reach the waterfall you will park at the turnout west of the Cascades Parking Area. Then, you will take the unmarked path from the turnout that heads north. You will cross a small meadow along the side of the road, continue along Wildcat Creek, and then will reach the tumbling waterfall.

This is a super short and easy hiking trail that will take you to a private piece of paradise within the park. The only thing that might make this trail a bit difficult is that it is unmarked. This is by far one of Yosemite’s most overlooked waterfalls, so if you get the chance to visit, you should as it is unmarred by overcrowding.

waterfall surrounded by trees and rock cliffs

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls plunges 620 feet and is one of the best waterfalls in Yosemite. As one of the best, you can imagine how popular this waterfall is. The trail to the falls gains approximately 80 feet and is just 0.5 miles round trip. It’s one of the best easy trails in Yosemite and you only need to plan on spending around twenty minutes hiking to the waterfall.

The trail is open year-round. However, the water is at peak flow in spring and early summer. In general, most of the waterfalls are at peak flow around the month of May. If you are traveling with kids, this is a great trail to hike with them since it is so short and easy. Plus, you will be happy to know that there are public restrooms in the parking area.

This waterfall was created by glacier runoff that craved away at the rock. It is one of the most iconic waterfalls in Yosemite National Park. If you have been looking for hikes in Yosemite with waterfalls, this is one of the easiest and best that the park has to offer.

waterfall far away in valley

Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls is one of the most stunning and most visited waterfalls in Yosemite. One trail to reach this waterfall is called the Mist Trail. It’s an out and back trail ranked as hard. You will hike three miles round trip starting at the Happy Isles Nature Center, out to Vernal Falls, and back to the nature center.

You can find the trail near Yosemite Valley and is best accessed from May until November. You should plan on spending 2-5 hours hiking and enjoying the waterfall on the Mist Trail. It is ranked as moderate in difficulty and it gains around 1,000 feet of elevation from the nature center to Vernal Falls, so keep this in mind when deciding if this trail is the right fit for you. Water and bathrooms are both available near the trail.

With Vernal Falls being one of the most popular destinations in Yosemite National Park, you can expect the trail and waterfall viewing areas to be heavily trafficked. The stairs in front of the waterfall have become an iconic photo spot in the park, but keep in mind that the steps are very slippery from the mist from the waterfall.

This Yosemite waterfall stands at 317 feet and is located on the Merced River. It is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Yosemite. Unlike other popular falls in the park, it can not be reached by car.

steps leading up to view of waterfall

Nevada Falls

If you are hiking to Vernal Falls, you need to only hike 1.3 miles further to reach Nevada Falls. The John Muir Trail also leads to the top of the falls while allowing you to bypass Vernal Falls. If you are taking the Mist Trail it will gain 1,000 feet in elevation from the nature center to Vernal Falls, then another 1,000 feet of elevation between Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls.

Starting from the nature center, hiking to Nevada Falls, then back to the nature center is 5.8 miles. Going this far on the Mist Trail brings the ranking of the trail to strenuous. When hiking on Mist Trail to Nevada Falls you should plan on spending around 5-6 hours hiking and enjoying the waterfall.

The area that the waterfall is in has a tragic history. The Mariposa Battalion was sent to the area around the falls to evict the Native Americans in the area to a reservation in the Central Valley so that white settlers could continue their search for gold in the west.

Dr. Lafayette Bunnell was one of the members of the battalion to first see the falls and he names it Nevada, which was an adjective in Spanish that meant snowy.

rocks cliffs and waterfall

Ribbon Fall

Ribbon Fall is a skinny waterfall on the west wall of Yosemite Valley’s west end, west of El Capitan. It is one of the tallest waterfalls in Yosemite at 1,612 feet tall. It is actually said that Ribbon Fall is the tallest single drop in North America.

There is not an official trail that will take you to see this waterfall. However, if you are looking for a hiking opportunity, you can reach Ribbon Falls off of the 8.4-mile hike from the North Kaibab Trailhead, about 5.2 miles from the Phantom Ranch.

Some years have seen an exceptional ice cone developed at the base of the waterfall in the winter months. This deposit of ice can reach 200 feet high! For reference, the ice cone for Yosemite Falls has been recorded at 322 feet in depth.

water in foreground and waterfall in background

Horsetail Fall

Have you ever seen a firewall? Horsetail Fall falls over the eastern wall of El Capitan in the Yosemite Valley. If you are visiting the waterfall in mid to late February you may get the chance to see Horsetail Fall glow orange when it is lit by the sunset. The national park has put restrictions in place due to the popularity of this event, you will want to be sure to do your research to learn about what roads are closed, where to park, and other important information regarding the falls.

Of course, the fire fall has always been around as long as Yosemite has been around, it was basically unknown until it was photographed by Galen Rowell in 1973 for the first color photo for National Geographic. Ansel Adams has previously captured the firewall but because it was in black and white the event remained relatively unknown.

Horsetail Fall has a short season, flowing from December to April. You can view this waterfall by parking at the Yosemite Falls parking lot west of the Yosemite Valley Lodge and walking 1.5 miles to the El Capitan Picnic Area where you can get great views of the fall. Then, you will walk the 1.5 miles back to the parking lot.

waterfall that looks like its on fire because of the sunset

Wapama Falls

The Wapama Falls Trail is 4.6 miles out and back. It’s best visited between May and October. This trail is heavily trafficked so you are unlikely to be alone during your visit. The trail is ranked moderate in difficulty and gains around 950 feet in elevation.

The trail will take you around the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on the Tuolumne River which will give you views of Hetch Hetchy Dome as well as Kolana Rock. This is a really beautiful trail that has you walking near water the whole time and there are bridges and viewing areas around the falls. This is one of the prettiest waterfall hikes in Yosemite National Park!

bridge in front of two waterfalls

Illilouette Fall

Of all of the waterfalls in Yosemite that aren’t uber-popular, you will want to make sure this one is on your bucket list. You will find the trailhead at Glacier Point Road, a sixteen-mile drive from the turnoff for Glacier Point. You will park at Glacier Point where you will have access to restrooms before or after your hike.

The trail is four miles round trip, or five miles if you want to include the Panorama Point Vista. The trail encompasses a total of 1,400 feet of elevation change. The trail runs next to pretty cascades along the Illiouette Creek above the falls and the views are breathtaking. From the trail, you can see the eastern Yosemite Valley, including North Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls, and other classic valley landmarks.

The best time to hike to Illiouette Fall is in the spring and early summer. During this time the creek is full of water and you will find pretty wildflowers in the area. You should plan for around 2-4 hours spent hiking and enjoying the waterfall. The trail is of medium difficulty due to the elevation change. This trail is fairly popular so you are likely to pass many other hikers on the route.

waterfall tumbling down steep fall

Tueeulala Falls

You will find Teeulala Falls on the north side of the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The waterfall stands at roughly 880 feet and spills down into the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on the Tuolumne River.

Teeulala Falls is the sister falls to Wapama Falls as they both drop down into the same reservoir. You will find Teeulala Falls about 1.7 miles along the trail. On average, the waterfall is usually around 40 feet wide and has the best flow consistency between March and June. The name of the falls was given by the Native Americans and was used by them for thousands of years prior to the discovery of the waterfall by westerner Nathaniel Screech in 1850.

two waterfalls falling into body of waterfall

Chinualna Falls

This beautiful little waterfall can be found on a heavily trafficked 7.7 miles out and back trail near Fish Camp. The Chinualna falls Trail gains 2,200 feet in elevation and is best hiked from June to October. This is one of the lesser-known waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, but also one of the coolest.

You will find many little pools and indents in the rock that were created from the water wearing away at the rock over time. Like most Yosemite waterfalls, you start the hike below the waterfall and must hike up to reach it.

If this trail seems too long for you, you may be interested in hiking to Lower Chilnualna Falls. It’s only 0.6 miles on an out and back trail. It’s ranked as moderate in difficulty and gains 252 feet of elevation. You only need about thirty minutes of hiking to reach the falls.

pool of water with waterfall behind

Waterwheel Falls

Any travelers looking for long and difficult waterfall hikes in Yosemite? The trail to Waterwheel Falls is a strenuous 20.6-mile hike near Yosemite Valley. It is best hiked between March and October. If you are traveling with older kids who are experienced hikers, this could be such a fun thing to experience when in Yosemite National Park.

You can power through and hike it all in one day or get an overnight permit to backcountry camp. You will pass several waterfalls on your way to Waterwheel Falls making this one of the best waterfalls in Yosemite to visit during your time spent in the park.

For the first four miles on the trail, you will enjoy a relatively easy hike through flat meadows. Later you descend into the canyon, encounter switchbacks, come to Glen Aulin Camp, and from there you will reach Waterwheel Falls. The final few miles between the camp and falls is the steepest part of the trail and it can be quite brutal to hike.

waterfall close up

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