Ribbon Falls

Yosemite National Park / Yosemite Valley, California, USA

Rating: 3.5     Difficulty: 1
Ribbon Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Ribbon Falls (or Ribbon Fall as some people call it) is that slender waterfall opposite Yosemite Valley from Bridalveil Fall. I get the feeling that it's for this reason that it's often overlooked or unnoticed by most visitors, which is a testament to the incredible beauty of this area. I even made the mistake of thinking it was Yosemite Falls on my first trip here with Julie on Memorial Day in 1999. Hey, you gotta learn from your mistakes in order to grow, right? :)

At 1612ft, this towering, free-falling waterfall is said to be amongst the highest free-leaping waterfalls in the United States. You'd think that with such a gaudy height, this waterfall would get a little more attention and love than it currently gets, but in Yosemite National Park, it's hard for a waterfall to stand out as there are so many beautiful ones all packed in Yosemite Valley.

Further inhibiting its notoriety is that it is a seasonal waterfall. Generally, its snow-fed watershed depletes by mid Summer. However, we've seen high snow pack years where it remained flowing pretty deep into late June and even July as well as low snow pack years where it was almost a trickle by June.

We were able to view this waterfall from a distance, but to my knowledge, there is no formal trail leading to its base. Now with that said, I did see a very interesting photo from its base in a once out of print Yosemite book, but I suspect the photographer did some off-trail scrambling and hiking to attain that view.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Ribbon Falls together with El CapitanRibbon Falls together with El Capitan
This is the Valley View Lookout by the Merced River in wide angle. Do you notice Ribbon Falls on the far left?This is the Valley View Lookout by the Merced River in wide angle. Do you notice Ribbon Falls on the far left?
Even though you can't see Ribbon Falls from here, the Tunnel View lookout of Yosemite Valley is one of the most impressionable and iconic spots to take photos in the parkEven though you can't see Ribbon Falls from here, the Tunnel View lookout of Yosemite Valley is one of the most impressionable and iconic spots to take photos in the park
Ribbon Falls seen from the Southside Drive in late May 2002The falls seen from the Southside Drive in late May 2002

More contextual view of Ribbon Falls in late May 2002More contextual view of the falls in late May 2002

Ribbon Falls together with El CapitanThe falls together with El Capitan

More recent Valley View Lookout photo in wide angleMore recent (June 2011) Valley View Lookout photo in wide angle, except this wasn't quite as wide-angle as the lens I used back in 2004

An old photo of Ribbon Falls from the base of Bridalveil Fall back in 1999An old photo of the falls from the base of Bridalveil Fall back in 1999


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Bottom up sweep of the falls then zooming out to show its context with El Cap


Left to right sweep starting with Ribbon Falls then sweeping up from the bottom to the top of Bridalveil Fall


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Ribbon Falls sits opposite the mouth of Yosemite Valley from Bridalveil Fall. To get to Yosemite Valley from Los Angeles, we tend to drive north on the I-5, then take the Hwy 99 through Central Valley to Fresno. Then, we follow the Hwy 41 through towns like Coarsegold, Oakhurst, Fish Camp, etc. through the Yosemite South Entrance before continuing along the Hwy 41 all the way to Yosemite Valley. This drive would typically take us in the neighborhood of 6 hours depending on traffic and where in LA we were driving from.

Once in the valley, in our minds, the best spot to view the falls is from the Southside Drive near signpost V14. There are real long pullouts on both sides of the one-way road here so there's ample space to pull over and walk around to get the most unobstructed view possible. We were also able to photograph both El Capitan and the waterfall together from this spot.

In addition, it's also possible to see this waterfall from the base of Bridalveil Fall (at the end of the walk leaving the car park at signpost W1). All you have to do is turn around with your back facing Bridalveil Fall and look across the valley.

Finally, we were also able to see part of the falls from the Valley View Lookout (signpost V11 on the Northside Drive). However, we needed a wide angle lens in order to capture both Bridalveil Fall and Ribbon Falls together in one photograph.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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RELATED PAGES



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