Yosemite Waterfalls (California)

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The majestic Yosemite Waterfalls are iconic symbols of scenic beauty as they are set in impossibly scenic valleys and canyons. It's primarily for this reason that we consider Yosemite National Park to be California's Waterfall Mecca.

Every year, millions of visitors pay homage to Yosemite National Park's grandeur and beauty. I once heard on a Travel Channel show that the first white men who saw the incomparable Yosemite Valley were so awestruck by its beauty that it made them cry. It's one of those places that you've got to see at least once in your life - especially in Spring when the waterfalls thunder as they tumble and plunge their way down from vertical cliffs at least 1000ft tall!

The concentration of towering cataracts within its incomparable Valley as well as its variety of falls outside the Valley have delighted us to the point that we've been to this park many times. We've been so enamored with the waterfalls here that some of them even made it onto our Top 10 Waterfalls of the USA List as well as our Top 10 Waterfalls of the World List.

In addition to the famous Yosemite Waterfalls such as Yosemite Falls (one of the tallest waterfalls in the world) and Bridalveil Fall, you can find the classic Vernal Fall, the unusual Waterwheel Falls, and the ephemeral Horsetail Falls (a photographer's challenge) among others. Couple that with landmarks (such as El Capitan and Half Dome) and you couldn't ask for a better place to see waterfalls.

Outside of the Valley, we've found Yosemite Waterfalls in varied landscapes from the Yosemite High Country (featuring sharp granite peaks like Unicorn Peak and Cathedral Peak) to the fjord-like scenery at Hetch Hetchy.

Of all the National Parks in the US, Yosemite National Park is my favorite. I've visited the park at least a dozen times since 2002 as well as a handful of times before then (when I hadn't gotten into waterfalling yet). I recalled during my naive youth, my parents took us here on a few occasions (albeit around Labor Day when the falls were mostly dry) so perhaps at a subconscious level, it was only natural that I'd come back on my own will. Indeed, Yosemite is special, and to see what I'm talking about, browse through these pages...

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Some of the waterfalls in this region were considered amongst our favorites and thus have made one or more of our top 10 lists. To see which of these lists have featured waterfalls from this region, see below!

Top 10 Waterfalls in the USA

Top 10 Waterfalls of the World

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Below are the waterfall subregions that we've been to. Click on a subregion for more details about the area and its waterfalls.

Tueeulala and Wapama Falls viewed from the controversial O Shaughnessy Dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley Hetch Hetchy: Once considered Yosemite Valley's twin before being controversially sacrified for the city of San Fransisco in the early 20th century, it is now the park's best kept secret! Love or hate the drowning of Hetch Hetchy Valley, you'll still find waterfalls, granite formations, and peace in this hidden corner of the park.

Click here to read more about the area and see its waterfalls.
Click here to jump directly to the area's waterfall list.

Waterwheel Falls with rainbow deep in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite's High Country Tuolumne River and the High Country: Nestled within the park's high country, which has its own blend of memorably-shaped peaks, the Tuolumne River rushes and tumbles from the vast Tuolumne Meadows to the rugged Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. Hikers and backpackers can seek refuge from the park's notorious crowds and follow this river to a seemingly endless series of cascades as well as some of the most unusual Yosemite Waterfalls.

Click here to read more about the area and see its waterfalls.
Click here to jump directly to the area's waterfall list.

Cascade Falls viewed across Merced River Canyon from nearby Turtleback Dome Merced Canyon and Western Yosemite: This rugged river canyon at the foot of the famous Yosemite Valley contains some lesser known Yosemite Waterfalls. Such waterfalls each could've easily been in its own park or reserve, but given their proximity to the waterfalls in the Incomparable Valley, they're now more or less hidden gems.

Click here to read more about the area and see its waterfalls.
Click here to jump directly to the area's waterfall list.

Chilnualna Falls in the quiet Southern Yosemite region Southern Yosemite: This relatively quiet section of the park features giant sequoia trees, a glimpse into the park's early history, and an eclectic collection of Yosemite Waterfalls not known to most visitors.

Click here to read more about the area and see its waterfalls.
Click here to jump directly to the area's waterfall list.

Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall comprising the Giant Stairway seen from Washburn Point near Glacier Point Tenaya Canyon and the Giant Stairway: Anchored by the iconic Half Dome, the waterfalls found in this area require you to get out of your car and walk, but you'll find the effort well worth it! The grandest Yosemite Waterfalls not in the Valley are found here.

Click here to read more about the area and see its waterfalls.
Click here to jump directly to the area's waterfall list.

Yosemite Falls from Swinging Bridge in Yosemite Valley Yosemite Valley: Often described as the Incomparable Valley, it's the centerpiece of the national park - and for good reason! For it is here that you'll not only find the park's most famous granite features, but with such a great concentration of cliff diving waterfalls, you're also going to find most of the famous Yosemite Waterfalls!

Click here to read more about the area and see its waterfalls.
Click here to jump directly to the area's waterfall list.

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Are you researching for an upcoming trip to this region? We've got additional information concerning non-waterfall attractions, our own travel stories, reviews of books and maps, or even writeups concerning the logistics of what it takes to come here and what to expect! Check out the following links...

El Capitan Yosemite's Other Attractions: There's more to my favorite national park than waterfalls. If you're curious about the area's other natural attractions or you're suffering from waterfall fatigue, have a look! [read more]

The infamous cables on Half Dome Yosemite Travel Stories: Read about the stories behind the World of Waterfalls. See Yosemite through our eyes while becoming more informed about this beautiful region. In this section, you will find travel journals that will leave you laughing, smiling, curious, or just about all the emotions you'd expect when you're traveling to an unknown place. [read more]

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If you already have a waterfall in mind that you'd like to see details about, browse the list below...


[Back to Hetch Hetchy]


[Back to Tuolumne River and the High Country]


[Back to Tenaya Canyon and Western Yosemite]


[Back to Tenaya Canyon and the Giant Staircase]


[Back to Southern Yosemite]


[Back to Yosemite Valley]

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There are other waterfalls not mentioned so far that...
  • I have yet to visit,
  • are too difficult to access (for me at least),
  • are not worth the effort (IMHO),
  • are closed to the public,
  • or are named but marginally count as waterfalls (IMHO)
I've listed them below for your reference in case you'd like google them for further info.
  • Bunnell Cascade
  • Little Nellie Falls
  • Unnamed Falls by Taft Point "Fissure Falls"
  • "Pywiack Dome Falls"

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