This week, I’d like to touch on a hike that isn’t very long. In fact, it’s only half a mile round trip! And, the trail is paved! Still, even though it’s a short walk, it is well worth it to see the falls—only a misty veil in the fall, but a ragging torrent during the spring runoff. The falls are pretty any time of year, and spectacular in the spring. Be sure to go on a sunny day—the water creates some really beautiful rainbows as it falls down a 617 ft. (188 meter) drop onto a pile of rocks below the falls.
The parking area for Bridal Veil Falls is located at the western end of the Southside Drive in Yosemite Valley. To get there from the visitor center, take the one-way Northside Drive all the way around to the El Portal Road; only turn left onto the Southside Drive across the Pohono Bridge. Turn right onto the Wawona Road, and the parking area will be almost immediately on your left. If you’re coming in on the El Portal Road, turn right onto the Southside Drive, take the right onto the Wawona Road, and then almost immediately turn left into the parking area. If you’re coming down the Wawona Road past Tunnel View, just before you get to the Southside Drive and the end of the road, the parking area will be on your right. It is well marked, so watch for the signs. A map of the area can be found at http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/yosevalley2008.pdf
The parking area is fairly large, but even so it can fill up quickly. You may need to go around the loop of the parking area a few times before you find an open parking spot, unless you’re there early in the morning. I don’t recommend this, as the sun shines on the falls better later in the day. It can be confusing where the trail actually starts, as there appears to be a much more obvious trail over near the primitive restrooms. Again, these can be busy, but so are most of the other restrooms in Yosemite Valley, so I guess that’s not a surprise. The trail actually begins over at the far end of the parking area. There are signs, so follow these.
The trail winds its way along a paved pathway for about a quarter of a mile, often beside a small river. The trail itself is heavily used, so if you’re not fond of walking on asphalt, it would be pretty easy in most places to walk on the dirt next to the pavement. The trail would be great for strollers, but several steep sections have made the park service recommend that this trail not be used by those in wheelchairs. Actually, part of the falls can be seen from the parking lot, over the trees, so if you’re not up to the trail, you can at least see part of the falls without going very far. Still, the view of the full falls is really nice for those who can make it all the way down the trail.
Eventually the trail ends at a large pile of rocks. The river that you have been following flows from the rocks and from the waterfall, which plummets downward onto the rocks to create the stream. During the spring, you are likely to get wet from the spray of the falls while standing in the viewing area. I recall standing there, trying to keep my glasses clean enough to see the falls—not an easy task! During the summer, however, the falls can dry up to a misty veil. Then the wind comes and blows the falls, making it almost disappear. This is very cool, but not great for taking pictures. If the sun is shining (for example, in the afternoon) there are often lovely rainbows from the falls’ spray, no matter how much or little water is flowing over the falls.
Return by the way you came. I wouldn’t call this an all-day attraction, but it is a very nice little place to see a majestic (spring) or lovely (summer/fall) waterfall, and I highly recommend it for visitors to Yosemite Valley.
Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this?
Sunday Sun Apr 23 70%
Cloudy, periods of rain. Lows overnight in the upper 40s.
Monday Mon Apr 24 20%
Cloudy. High 66F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph.
Tuesday Tue Apr 25 10%
Mostly sunny skies. High near 75F. Winds light and variable.
Wednesday Wed Apr 26 10%
Mainly sunny. High 82F. Winds S at 10 to 20 mph.
Thursday Thu Apr 27 50%
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Partly to mostly cloudy skies with scattered thunderstorms in the morning. High around 75F. Winds SW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 50%.