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Nevada Falls

Yosemite Valley, California 95389 USA

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Thu 12a-11:59p
  • Independent
  • Public
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“stunning 594-ft waterfall”

Nevada Fall is a 594-foot (181 m) high waterfall on the Merced River in Yosemite National Park, California. It is located below the granite dome, Liberty Cap, at the west end of Little Yosemite Valley. The waterfall is widely recognized by its "bent" shape, in which the water free-falls for roughly the first third of its length to a steep slick-rock slope. This mid-fall impact of the water on the cliff face creates a turbulent, whitewater appearance in the falls and produces a great deal of mist which covers a wide radius, which led to its current name (Nevada is an old Spanish word meaning "snowy"). Additionally, when viewed from the left-hand side, its angular shape is suggestive of the western border of the state of Nevada. The Indian name was Yo-wy-we, signifying the twist or squirm of the falling water. Lafayette Bunnell suggested the name "Nevada" for the waterfall. He wrote, "The Nevada Fall was so called because it was the nearest to the Sierra Nevada, and because the name was sufficiently indicative of a wintry companion for our spring (Vernal Fall)... The white, foaming water, as it dashed down Yo-wy-we from the snowy mountains, represented to my mind a vast avalanche of snow." The Emerald Pool forms on the "step" between Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall downstream. The 317-foot (97 m) high Vernal Fall is a short hike from the bottom of Nevada Fall. They form a cascade in which the Merced River flows down to Yosemite Valley. This cascade is sometimes called the giant staircase, which is evident when viewed from above, at Glacier Point.The hike to the top of Nevada Fall, along the Mist Trail, is 3 miles (4.8 km) from the trailhead in Yosemite Valley. One must first hike to Vernal Fall and then trek another 2 miles (3.2 km) to reach the top. The John Muir Trail, which starts near the trail to Happy Isles, goes to the top of Nevada Fall.

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Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
April 30, 2015

went to yosemite for the first time in may of 2001. my intention was to climb the cable route to the top of half dome. that was it, half dome, the iconic symbol of yosemite. got a wilderness permit for two nights at little yosemite (cable route permits were not yet required) and i was set. oh yeah, see some cool waterfalls. the hike up from happy isles was sensational; 80 F, not a cloud in the sky, vernal fall was lovely and nevada was in full flow. both were unexpectedly astonishing. the mist, the sound, the dropoff standing at the precipices; i was not prepared for how stunning these two falls are. and little yosemite is among the finest campgrounds in all the national parks. large, sheltered, spread out, good source of water (filter). the weather was superb. i slept with just a ground cloth and thermarest in a summer bag. no tent though i brought one. oh, i climbed half dome. the cables were still down from the winter but i climbed it anyway even though a docent at the visitor center told me i couldn't and got pissed off when i told him i was gonna! the hike up from little yosemite is beautiful, classic sierra high country. when i got to the saddle the site of the cable route scared the hell out of me and i really considered not doing it out of fear. then a party of four arrived at the saddle, two boys and two girls, and they just scampered up the cables like goats. with that i had to do it. two girls?? come on. it was not nearly as difficult as i feared and after 50 yards or so i had a pretty good rhythm going so it was just a matter of one foot in front of the other. plus it flattens out nicely near the top. the top is cool, much larger than i expected and the view from the brow 4000+ feet straight down to the valley is extraordinary. climbing down the cables seemed a little dicier to me than the trip up but was doable with caution. plus it was 80F, clear, dry, and still and this was the first week of may. it wasn't until we all got down from the top that i learned that the two girls in the other party had just gotten back from everest base camp!! true story, my hand to god. but as great as the cable route is, the real highlight of the hike is the two falls. wasn't expecting waterfalls to be so riveting. all and all one of the finest hikes in the parks, right up there with angel's landing for excitement and spectacular views. be prepared but do it.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • Road Warrior
  • 401 Reviews
  • 292 Helpful
September 25, 2014
Rated 5.0

Just next to Yosemite, this AMAZING place is what you need to do if you are in a good shape and if you love hiking.

There are a lot of steps that you have to go through but during the hike you get to become one with nature and definitely you can clear your minds with the help of the water sounds crashing to the bottom of the site.

Bring food and drinks to accompany you during the hike and just take deep breaths of fresh air. Enjoy!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 17 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
June 04, 2022

This is a spectacular sight to behold once you get to the top, and even before then, if I'm being honest. We kept venturing upward after Vernal Falls but were greeted by more and more steps. My bum and thighs did just fine, but the back of my knees were tight for a couple days after. You're hiking from valley floor to up above two waterfalls, so it's quite a trek. Magnificent views all around. But then you realized you've gotta hike 4 miles back downward. I highly suggest you take the John Muir Trail back down, as it's a smoother trip (way fewer stair steps). Just be careful, as it's easy to slip. I stopped myself slipping multiple times, and succumbed to it once. There is a bathroom .2 miles from the falls, but if you come up via the John Muir trail, you'll miss it unless you venture past to find it. Bring LOTS of drinking water and pack a lunch. It took my son and I 8 hours to do both Vernal and Nevada Falls, but we stopped often to rest and enjoy the view.

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Reviewed by
Anthony Arata

  • 125 Reviews
  • 18 Helpful
June 01, 2016
Rated 5.0

Incredible views. Not a super challenging hike but it can be tough for some people. Just PLEASE be careful and stay on the right side of the rails. Luckily no one crossed over when I went there today, and the views are amazing.

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Nevada Falls

Yosemite Valley
95389 USA
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Open 24 hours today
  • Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm

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  • Pets Allowed
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  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
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