Yosemite Waterfalls at Peak Flowing Glory

Truly a sight to behold, Yosemite Waterfalls are the crown jewels of the Sierra Nevada mountains. In fact, there are more waterfalls in Yosemite than anywhere in the world! Enjoy these photos, most of which were taken at peak flow in spring:

Photos of Yosemite Waterfalls

  1. Yosemite Falls
  2. Lower Yosemite Falls
  3. Bridalveil Fall
  4. Vernal Fall
  5. Nevada Fall Photos
  6. Cascade Falls
  7. Carlon Falls
  8. Lesser Known Falls (Bonus)
  9. Long Exposure Falls (Bonus)
  10. When To Visit

1. Yosemite Falls

Without a doubt, the king of all park waterfalls is stunning Yosemite Falls. Including all 3 tiers, it is the tallest waterfall in North America, and I believe the 5th tallest in the world.

Upper Yosemite Falls & Rainbow on Hike to Top

2. Lower Yosemite Falls

Indeed, these falls are so large that just the lower section itself is considered its own waterfall! Lower Yosemite Fall can be accessed by a short walking path, and therefore tends to be quite crowded at the base.

Lower Yosemite Falls from Viewpoint
Lower Yosemite Falls from Viewpoint

3. Bridalveil Fall

Bridalveil Fall is the first major waterfall you encounter as you enter the park, and is featured in many iconic Yosemite Valley Views. By comparison, even though it’s an impressive waterfall, it still ranks only 431st in the world (goes to show how incredibly tall Yosemite Falls is!)

Bridalveil Fall illuminated in the Valley - Black and White - Yosemite Waterfalls by Nathan Allen
Yosemite Valley With Illuminated Bridalveil Fall – B&W

4. Vernal Fall

While Vernal Fall may not be as tall as the others, it certainly is just as impressive. This wide, picturesque waterfall can be found while hiking the popular Mist Trail.

Vernal Falls in Summer, from above on the John Muir Trail
Vernal Falls in Summer, from Above on John Muir Trail

5. Nevada Fall

Further up the trail from Vernal Fall is Nevada Fall. In my opinion it’s a lot of work to get up here, so if you’re not up for a very strenuous hike, you might want to head back after you reach Vernal. Nevertheless, as you can see, Nevada Fall is no slouch.

Nevada Falls and Merced River pool - Summer
Nevada Falls and Pool Scene

6. Yosemite Waterfalls – The Cascades

If you pay attention on Highway 120, you may spot waterfalls before you even make it down to the valley! For example, The Cascades are a little known roadside attraction, high on the mountainside. Here, Cascade Creek and Tamarack Creek come together, then plummet steeply down to the valley floor.

Upper Cascade Falls

Long exposure section of The Cascades, falls trickling down a mountainside - Yosemite Waterfalls
Small section of Cascade Falls (long exposure)

You can make your way down to the water, but it’s quite steep and dangerous, especially at peak flow in spring! At this time (and especially on a warm day), you’ll find countless channels of water carving their way down the mountain. For this reason, I nicknamed this area “Waterworld”.

Lower Cascade Falls

The Cascades drop all the way down to a viewpoint on highway 41. Here you can hike up to the Lower Cascades, though be warned there is poison oak at this lower elevation. I learned my lesson when I hiked there in winter and didn’t see any leaves (you can still get it from bare branches)

Lower Cascade Falls, near Merced River and Highway 41
Lower section of The Cascades waterfall, near Highway 41

7. Carlon Falls

Surprisingly, hardly anybody knows about beautiful Carlon Falls. This short hike starts just before the park entrance on Highway 120…you are actually hiking into Yosemite when you visit this waterfall.

Carlon Falls Long Exposure Scene- Yosemite Waterfalls by Nathan Allen
Carlon Falls Long Exposure in June

Yosemite Waterfalls – Lesser Known

Lee Vining Falls

Fall colors in Forest at at Lee Vining Falls, Long Exposure Yosemite Waterfalls
Lee Vining Falls Near Campground (Long Exposure in October)

By all means, if you have a bit of time (especially in autumn), make the trip to see Lee Vining Falls. Note, there is a different set visible from 120, the one pictured here is down in the canyon near the campgrounds. This is technically outside the park, but just barely.

Yosemite Waterfalls – Long Exposure

Of course, some of the photos above feature long exposure photography. However, these smaller (also lesser known) creeks provide excellent opportunities as well.

Avalanche Creek Falls

Stringy Avalanche Creek Falls and Mossy Rocks - Long Exposure Yosemite Waterfalls by Nathan Allen
Avalanche Creek – Long Exposure Falls & Mossy Rocks

Presently, these beautiful, mossy falls along Glacier Point Rd show severe forest fire damage – I was lucky to photograph Avalanche Creek Falls just before the Mariposa fire of 2018.

Tamarack Creek Falls

As I have noted previously, Tamarack Creek (before it joins Cascade Creek) has some beautiful scenes for long exposure.

Rocky Tamarack Creek Falls Long Exposure with Indian Rhubarb
Small Long Exposure Falls Along Rocky Tamarack Creek

Best Time For Yosemite Waterfalls

Bridaveil Fall and Dogwood flowers blooming in spring - portrait
Bridalveil Fall with Spring Dogwoods (all but dries up by late summer)

To conclude (and if somehow I hadn’t made this clear), spring is by far the best time to see these beauties flowing at their peaks. Not only are the falls thundering, but the weather is pleasant, the dogwoods are blooming, and the throngs of crowds have yet to clog up the valley’s arteries!

Truly Yosemite at it’s most magical.

-Nathan Allen

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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.