Bridalveil Fall is 620 feet high and flows almost all year round. As a glacial valley, Yosemite was carved out of solid rock and earth millions of years ago. As the glacier-carved its path through the Sierra Nevada mountains, it left behind a number of natural phenomena known as “hanging valleys,” meaning that they are valleys with a floor at a higher elevation than the channel through which the water flows. These hanging valleys are the cause and source of the numerous waterfalls that flow into Yosemite Valley.
As the glacier melted, water left behind made its way to the floor of Yosemite Valley, carving steep cascades into the valley’s walls. The waterfall is unique in that the force of the water causes it to leap out from the edge of the precipice. This unusual behavior has worn the edge of the fall backwards into an alcove, making it unique among Yosemite’s 26 main waterfalls.
The source of the Fall is Ostrander Lake, approximately 10 miles south. When the wind blows hard, the falling water appears to flow sideways, and in times of lesser flow, the water doesn’t seem to reach the ground at all. This particular phenomenon inspired the Native American name of “Pohono”, or Spirit of the Puffing Wind for the waterfall.
Several Native American myths exist surrounding Bridalveil Fall. One of them features Pohono, an angry spirit who is believed to have cursed the Falls and endangers the lives of all who venture there. But over time, it has been proven that the Fall is not haunted, but is a beautiful natural wonder reigning over the Yosemite Valley. Bridalveil Fall is the first waterfall visitors see upon entering Yosemite Valley. Emerging from the western tunnel entrance of the valley, it forms one side of the Gates of the Valley.
Whether it is to admire the natural scenery, or to get some exercise, or even to reconnect with nature, Bridalveil Fall is a wonderful place to spend time alone or with family. For hikers, one of the advantages to the trail is that it’s a short loop cooled by the mists that waft from the waterfall, so that the hike is refreshing and invigorating. One thing to watch out for is rocks covered in water from the mist; they can often make footing treacherous. Another thing to remember is that the bathrooms are located in the parking lot, so bear that in mind before starting a hike.
Among all the other attractions in Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall is a happy medium. Gorgeous views and a thrilling experience of Yosemite’s natural beauty combine nicely with a reasonably easy trek to the viewpoints. This means that for people who aren’t avid hikers, they can still experience Yosemite’s Valley’s stunning panoramas. The natural wonders of Yosemite Valley are accessible to everyone, as evidenced by this waterfall. Situated near a parking lot, and with wheelchair-accessible viewing points, everyone can witness the majesty of the Fall.
Visiting Bridalveil Fall is a glorious place to visit for any reason. Whether it’s to go for a hike, or read a book, or just enjoy the surroundings, any reason is a good reason.
The Bridalveil Fall trail is an easy heavy trafficked 0.5-mile trail located in Yosemite Valley. It takes about 15 minutes on average to complete it. In a brisk wind, the falling water is often blown sideways and the trail can become slippery.
We highly recommend checking the closures and road conditions at the NPS’s website here.
Although there is no bad time to visit Bridalveil Fall, spring and early summer is hands-down the best. Snow accumulated throughout the winter melts as the Sun regains some of its mid-year warmth, creating torrents drawn by gravity to the valley floor below. Bridalveil’s current becomes so strong by the time it reaches the precipice of the fall that the spray will drench a visitor walking from the parking lot.
Good views of the fall can be found at the
Most late afternoons, the sunshine through the waterfall’s spray creates a rainbow, which grows taller as the sun sets. This mostly happens during the spring season.
Parking at Bridalveil Fall is available at the trailhead but can often be a problem, because so many people are there at any given time to see the sights. Many people will park on the road and walk an extra half-mile to the viewing point. Using this longer route, visitors will be able to walk through beautiful meadows and admire different views of Bridalveil Fall as they approach the site.
Unfortunately, Yosemite Valley shuttle service is not available at the Bridalveil Fall area. You’ll have to drive and park at the trailhead or on the road nearby. You can also hike the Valley Loop Trail to get to the fall.
Leashed pets are allowed on the trail. Please pick up after your pets. Do not feed wildlife.
From Yosemite Valley, take Southside Dr. As you are driving this one-way road the turn will be on your right. Turn onto Highway 41 and you will see the Bridalveil parking lot shortly.
Bridalveil Fall is 620 feet (189 meters) high, and it flows almost all year round. It is not the highest waterfall in Yosemite, but still one of the most beautiful and accessible.
Ready to visit Yosemite and take in the beauty of the Bridalveil Fall in person? Learn more about our Yosemite tours from San Francisco.