Hetch Hetchy Photos

Interesting to think about what this valley looked like before the dam was built. What’s now a large high Sierra lake was once a scenic, granite valley – complete with waterfall – and not unlike Yosemite valley itself. Well, either way, this area is undeniably beautiful. Here are my Hetch Hetchy Reservoir photos.

Hetch Hetchy Photos
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

You know what’s funny? I had been to Yosemite a full 50 times (yes, you read that correctly) before I finally made the journey to this reservoir. For some reason it wasn’t much of a priority for me…I think learning about how the are was “ruined” by the dam turned me off to a visit. 

Arch Entry Sign reading "Gateway To Hetch Hetchy"
Arch Entry Sign

Well, it turns out that Hetch Hetchy is much more beautiful than I thought. Actually, I tried to head up Tioga Pass the day it opened (late) in July. However, it was a weekend…and the lines to get in Yosemite were quite long. I ended up losing my patience and turning onto Evergreen Road instead.

Hetch Hetch Entry station - Yosemite National Park
Park entrance

It was actually the staff at Evergreen lodge that suggested I go to Hetch Hetchy instead. Turns out hordes of park goers had the same idea – the ranger at the entry gate told me the parking was already full.

Wapama Falls

Wapama Falls

At the time of this writing, it was early July, after a particularly snowy winter. Wapama Falls were flowing so strong that I was warned about the dangerous (flooded) crossing to get there. Fortunately for me, my zoom lens helped me “cheat”. I got a feel for the waterfall from a good distance away.

O’Shaughnessy Dam – Hetch Hetchy Photos

Boat launch and O'Shaughnessy Dam ahead
Boat launch and O’Shaughnessy Dam ahead

It’s incredible to witness the power and ingenuity of this structure. I remember watching a documentary on WWII once…it mentioned how the Japanese considered blowing up this dam, to flood and disrupt the communities all the way to San Francisco. Seeing what a large, imposing dam it really is helps me understand the effectiveness of such a plan. Let’s hope it’s well protected in the event of any future conflicts. 

The Glaring Downside To Hetch Hetchy

While not a concern for everybody, this area is brimming with poison oak. I am particularly allergic to this toxic plant, so it was enough to give me a bit of anxiety while exploring here. It only grows to about 4,000ft, so the abundance here makes me think this valley must be lower in elevation than Yosemite valley, where I very rarely see the plant.

Learn more about poison oak in Yosemite.

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About My Photos

The images on this website are available for licensing and/or sale as framed prints. If you’d like to purchase them for a blog, news article, or gift, feel free to contact me with the specifics. This way you’re supporting photographers such as me directly (as opposed to buying from a faceless stock photo corporation).

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– Nathan Allen

About Me

Photographer Nathan Allen

I’m Nathan Allen, photographer / creator of YosemiteParkPhotos.com (Yosemite Photos) and international travel site I Dreamed Of This. In truth, I lived in San Francisco, New York, & Singapore…but nothing compares to life in the mountains. I share my experiences HERE.