Silver Strand Falls is perhaps the most overlooked waterfall due to its unfortunate position at the famous Tunnel View Overlook. While just about everyone fixes their eyes at El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall framing the Gates of Yosemite Valley, very few people bother to look up above the Wawona Tunnel.
In fact, we were guilty of the same thing, and it wasn’t until our third visit to Yosemite National Park and the Tunnel Overlook did we finally bother to look up and notice this guy!
This waterfall seemed to have a pretty short season. We say this because we showed up to see this waterfall a merely three weeks too early in the Spring when there was still snow in the High Country and the waterfall didn’t have very good flow. This waterfall was also said to typically go dry a little after the Summer Solstice occurs given its limited drainage.
So given all the factors with timing and position, it’s probably no wonder that millions of people may see the Gates of Yosemite Valley from the Tunnel View Overlook, but probably less than 1% of them (and this is totally a guess) even notice this waterfall despite being visible from the same overlook.
Silver Strand Falls sat near the foot of Yosemite Valley, which was roughly 6 hours drive from Los Angeles. Our preferred route would be to drive north on the I-5 then the Hwy 99 through Central Valley to Fresno. Once we were in Fresno, we took the Hwy 41 through the towns of Coarsegold, Oakhurst, Fish Camp, etc., which ultimately led us to the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park.
Then, we’d follow Hwy 41 all the way towards Yosemite Valley (roughly 45-60 minutes later), but before getting into the valley, we’d stop at the Tunnel View Lookout, which is just east of the Wawona Tunnel on Route 41 (signpost W2).
While Tunnel View is the most obvious place to see the 574ft falls, it’s also possible to see its profile from the base of Merced Canyon (a short distance west of the Pohono Bridge on Route 140; pay attention to unsigned pullouts).
The drive from San Francisco took us roughly 4 hours or so, though that would mean entering the park either through the Arch Rock (West) Entrance or the Big Oak Flat (Northwest) Entrance. All the park’s main roads (except the Tioga Road) ultimately reach Yosemite Valley.
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