Yosemite’s Best-Kept Secrets

Yosemite National Park is known for its stunning beauty, including its famous waterfalls such as Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Fall. However, many visitors don’t realize that there are several lesser-known waterfalls scattered throughout the park that are just as spectacular. If you’re looking for an adventure and some unique scenery, consider visiting the following waterfalls during your next trip to Yosemite.

Chilnualna Falls:

The trailhead for Chilnualna Falls is easily accessed in Wawona.

Tucked away in a remote corner of the park, Chilnualna Falls offers a peaceful and serene experience in Yosemite. The trail to the falls is a difficult one, but truly worth it. The falls consist of a series of cascades and pools, with the highest drop measuring over 200 feet. 

The Redwoods at Yosemite:

For those planning on staying a few days, The Redwoods at Yosemite is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Chilnualna Falls, making it the ultimate basecamp for waterfall watching! With comfortable and cozy lodging options, you can rest easy after a day of hiking to the falls and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your next adventure. 

Foresta Fall:

Take a gentle hike through Foresta to experience a charming waterfall with few visitors.

This waterfall is hidden away in the tiny community of Foresta, just outside the western boundary of Yosemite, but accessed from inside the park.The hike to the fall is relatively short and easy, and the scenery along the way is stunning. The fall itself is small but beautiful, with a drop over a moss-covered granite wall. This is a great spot for a picnic or a peaceful afternoon in nature.

Sentinel Fall:

Sentinel Falls Sentinel Falls. Vallée du Yosemite. Parc du Yosemite. Californie. Etats-Unis

While not exactly a hidden gem, Sentinel Fall is often overlooked in favor of its more famous neighbor, Yosemite Falls. However, Sentinel Fall is just as impressive in its own right, with a towering drop of over 1,000 feet. This fall is best viewed from the floor of Yosemite Valley.  

Ribbon Fall:

To find Ribbon Fall, look west from El Capitan during the spring.

Another often-overlooked waterfall, Ribbon Fall is one of the tallest single-drop waterfalls in North America, with a height of over 1,600 feet. Spring is the only time to see this beauty, when snowmelt causes the flow to increase dramatically.

Horsetail Fall:

Turning into the “Firefall” during a short period February, Horsetail Fall flows off the eastern edge of El Capitan.

This waterfall is unique in that it only flows in the winter and early spring, and only when conditions are just right. When the sun sets at just the right angle, the waterfall glows with a brilliant orange hue, earning it the nickname “firefall.” While the hike to view the fall is short and easy, getting a good view of the firefall requires some planning and timing.

Illilouette Fall:

Illilouette Fall is visible from either the Mist or Panoramic Trails.

Located in a quiet corner of Yosemite Valley, Illilouette Fall is another hidden gem that’s worth seeking out. The fall drops over 600 feet and is the most impressive in the spring and early summer, when melting snow increases the flow of water. The trail to the fall is a bit steep, but the views along the way are gorgeous.

Waterwheel Falls:

Located in Tuolumne Meadows, the unusual flow of Waterwheel Falls make the long hike to see them worthwhile.

For the adventurous at heart, Waterwheel Falls is a must-visit. The hike to the falls is long, but the reward is a breathtaking view of the falls as they plunge into a series of pools and whirlpools. The falls get their name from the unique waterwheel-like formation that occurs at the base of the falls

Jackson Falls:

Located outside of the park in Fish Camp, Jackson Falls is a bit off the beaten path. However, the hike to the falls is relatively easy, and the scenery along the way is stunning. The falls themselves are small but picturesque, with a gentle cascade.

While Yosemite’s famous waterfalls are certainly worth visiting, there’s something special about discovering the park’s lesser-known gems. From the secluded beauty of Chilnualna Falls to the unique glow of Horsetail Fall, these waterfalls offer a chance to connect with nature in a truly unforgettable way. 

So next time you’re planning your trip to Yosemite, be sure to add some of these hidden waterfalls to your itinerary. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a casual nature lover, there’s a waterfall in Yosemite that’s perfect for you.

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