Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America, and 5th in the world, with a total of 2,425ft of elevation loss from top to ... more »bottom. Because the vertical drop is so long, it does not look like the water is falling very quickly because the wind often blows it sideways. In fact, it is so far down that it is separated into 3 separate sections, each of which would be considered massive waterfalls alone.
The Upper Fall is 1,430 feet and is one of the top 20 largest waterfalls in the world just by itself. You can hike up a steep and unforgiving trail to the top of the Fall which offers some amazing views of the Valley and Half Dome across the gap.
The Middle Cascade is 675 ft and consists of 5 separate mini-falls. This section is the most difficult to see, as it is more narrow and hidden from the Valley Floor.
The lower Fall is 320ft and has a viewing area near the base. Although you may be tempted, do not get too close as the rocks near the base are sharp and very slipper (not to mention there is a water falling powerfully from above).
Like all waterfalls in Yosemite, it is best seen in spring when the winter snow is melting and the upper lakes are full, significantly increasing the flow of the water over the edge (the difference between April and October is astounding). It has been estimated that the average flow for spring is somewhere around 2,400 gallons/second, so it would not be a good idea to walk under the falls in the hopes of cooling off.
The hike to Lower Yosemite Falls—if you can even call it that—is likely the largest reward for the least amount of effort anywhere in Yosemite (except maybe Tunnel View or Glacier Point. The walk will take 10 minutes at most, and that’s if you take it extremely leisurely. less «