Waterfalls, Lakes and Rivers in Yosemite

Yosemite claims some of the USA's most impressive bodies of water including Yosemite Falls, Vernal Fall, Mirror Lake and the Merced River.

Tioga Road going over Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park

3 Stops on Tioga Road in Yosemite

Although just about every bend in Tioga Road reveals another awesome view, here are three stops you won't want to miss on the eastern section at Tioga Pass.

At the base of Wapama Falls. Photo by David Krause

Easy Hike to Wapama Falls in Hetch Hetchy Valley

The valley has an iconic rock formation called Kolana Rock, and Wapama Falls which flows year-round, yet relatively few people visit this area of the park.

Yosemite's Horsetail Fall in February when the setting sun hits the falling water

Firefall in Yosemite Valley Mid to Late-February

Weather permitting, as the sun sets the Horsetail Fall waterfall lights up a firefall down El Capitan. Learn about the history and today's natural effect.

Frazil ice in Yosemite Creek

Frazil Ice and Snow Cone Formations in Yosemite

Stand on the Yosemite Creek bridge below Yosemite Falls in March and April and you may see frazil ice in the creek and a snow cone under the upper falls.

Vernal Fall Overlook by Grant Ordelheide

Heroics and Tragedies at Yosemite’s Vernal Falls

A hero was made when Alec Smith leapt over the protective barrier at the top of Vernal Falls to save the life of a young boy. Most rescues don't turn out successful.

Sunset at Nevada Falls. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

How to Photograph Waterfalls in Yosemite

Grant Ordelheide showcases his photos of waterfalls and gives you tips on how best photograph these cascades.


Lakes Beyond Yosemite Park

The following are a few of our favorite Sierra Nevada lakes outside Yosemite National Park.

Mirror Lake.

Lakes in Yosemite National Park

Among the most beautiful natural attractions in Yosemite are its pristine lakes. Favorite include Mirror Lake, Tenaya Lake, and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

Hiking past Vernal Falls on the Mist Trail in Yosemite.

Mist Trail, Yosemite's Most Popular Waterfall Hike

Starting from the Happy Isles on the valley floor, the challenging Mist Trail climbs a granite staircase beside Vernal Fall and on to Nevada Fall.

Mono Lake Tufa Formations

Restoring Mono Lake in the Eastern Sierra Nevada

The story of Mono Lake reflects the historical and political struggles between nature conservation and California's burgeoning urban populations.

Merced River with El Capitan in the Background

Rivers In Yosemite Park

In late spring and early summer, when melting snow from Sierra Nevada peaks thunders down into the valleys below, it's easy to imagine how millennia of erosion has shaped the landscape of the park today.

Hikers crossing a river in Yosemite National Park

Safety in Yosemite's Waterfalls, Rivers and Streams

Yosemite has many wild waterfalls, rivers and streams, causing visitors who are unprepared and don't heed the posted warning signs to get into trouble.

Mono Lake South Tufa Area. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

Tufa Trails on Mono Lake East of Yosemite

Immediately outside Yosemite's east entrance is one of the oldest lakes in North America. See giant tufa formations on an interpretive trail.

Moonbow at lower Yosemite Falls. Photo by Brocken Inaglory [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Waterfall Rainbows and Moonbows in Yosemite

Moonbows, Lunar Rainbows, or Spraybows are the moonlight refracking off a spray of water or waterfall. The best time to see them are during the full moon. Watch the video.

Yosemite Falls.

Yosemite Valley Waterfalls

In no other place in the Sierra Nevada mountains can you see so many impressive waterfalls gathered together in one spot.

Waterwheel Falls in Yosemite. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

Yosemite's Less Visited Waterfalls

If you're looking for solitude, there are many more hidden waterfalls throughout the park, which are nearly as beautiful as their valley sisters.