One of the most prominent waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall plunges 620 feet over a glacially-carved granite cliff and runs year-round. When wind blows through the park, a cool mist from the fall wafts over the valley. It’s usually the first fall people see when they enter the park, and it can be viewed from multiple spots, including from Tunnel View, driving to Yosemite Valley on Southside Drive or Northside Drive, Inspiration Point and at Valley View also known as Gates of the Valley.
The paved path to Bridalveil Fall, though extremely slippery and often crowded, is one of the easiest and most family-friendly out of all the waterfall trails.
Is Bridalveil Fall Open?
The trail to Bridalveil Fall is open year-round. However, from fall 2019 to fall 2022, the path is closed because of the Bridalveil Fall Rehabilitation Project. As one of the most visited areas of the park, the park service hopes to reduce crowding on the trail and viewing platform, protect the natural and cultural resources in the vicinity, improve the restroom facilities and update wayfinding and interpretation. Get updates at nps.gov/yose/getinvolved/bridalveilea.htm
How Long is the Walk to Bridalveil Fall?
Classified as an easy hike, the total out-and-back distance to Bridalveil Fall is 0.5 miles and the elevation gain is about 80 feet. The trail is entirely paved from the trailhead to the base of the fall, but because of its grade, it is not accessible to wheelchairs. This walk usually takes visitors between 15 and 30 minutes. Because of the constant mist, beware of slippery rocks and treacherous footing during any season. Keep an eye on kids, and don’t get too close to the water’s edge or scramble off the trail.
Where Do I Park?
Parking for Bridalveil Fall is available directly at the trailhead, which you can reach from Wawona Road or Southside Drive. Despite frequent traffic turnover, the lot fills up quickly and traffic jams are common. Be patient and generous when driving in this area. Shuttle service is not available.
The park service recommends a second parking option a few hundred yards east on Southside Drive heading into Yosemite Valley. You’re allowed to park on either side of the road. From there, you can walk an additional 0.25 miles across Bridalveil Creek to get a different perspective of the waterfall as you approach the main parking area. Once at the lot, you’ll find restrooms. (Download a Map)
Is Bridalveil Fall the Same as Yosemite Falls?
Though both are iconic waterfalls in Yosemite Valley and reach their peak flow in late spring, Bridalveil Fall is different from Yosemite Falls. Bridalveil Fall is one of the shorter falls in the park, whereas Yosemite Falls is the highest at 2,425 feet. It has three sections: upper, middle and lower. In late summer and early autumn, Yosemite Falls usually cease flowing altogether unlike Bridalveil Fall, which flows all year.
What Should I Bring on My Walk?
Because the paved trail to Bridalviel Fall is fairly short, you can leave backpacks, snacks and water behind. However, wear sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots with good traction. The rocks and paved trail near the base of the fall are slippery because of the mist. Expect to get wet, especially during peak flow in late spring, so pack a raincoat or waterproof layer to stay dry.
If you plan on bringing your camera, come prepared with a waterproof covering or bag. For professional tips on photographing waterfalls, refer to this guide. Photographer Grant Ordelheide shares what filters to use, best times to shoot and lighting recommendations.
Unlike other hikes in Yosemite, leashed pets are allowed on this trail because it’s paved. But again, beware of the edge and don’t wander off the trail.