One of the most prominent and iconic waterfalls in Yosemite, Bridalveil Fall was included in the Top 10 Waterfalls in the USA by the World of Waterfalls website. It was photographed by Ansel Adams from many angles, included in many of his exhibitions and was chosen as one of his Special Edition Prints.
The Ahwahneechee people called the waterfall Pohono, meaning “spirit of the puffing wind.” It’s modern name comes from the fact that during spring and summer, when the water flow is at its peak from melting snow, the waterfall produces a cloud of mist which is said to resemble a bride’s translucent veil. The water plummets of the cliffs near the “Gates of Yosemite” at the western end of Yosemite Valley, falling 188m (620 feet) in a single drop.
The falls are most spectacular in spring and early summer when the snowmelt creates a torrent of water. By autumn the waterfall is barely visible against the cliff face from a distance.
Getting to Bridalveil Fall
A number of lookouts and hiking trails provide a great view of the waterfall, from different perpsectives:
- A short (400m / 0.25 mile) wheelchair-accessible walk from Wawona Road goes to the Bridalveil Falls Viewpoint near the base of the waterfall. The trail continues along the valley in both directions, providing more vantage points. You can also stop along side Wawona Road and Southside Drive.
- From Northside Drive there are views of the falls from across the Merced River.
- Tunnel View Lookout is one of the most popular lookouts, and is the vantage point where Ansel Adams took his famous “Gates of Yosemite” photo.
- The hike up to Inspiration Point (4.2km) is one of the busier Yosemite hikes, but avoids the crowds at the more accessible lookouts. It provides similar perspective to the Tunnel View Lookout, but from a much higher elevation.
The waterfall rarely dries up, but is most impressive in spring when the snowmelt is at its peak. (At times of peak flow, photos are best from a distance, as the spray from the falls will cover the viewing area near the base.)