For many travellers, this is one of the main landmarks when visiting Yosemite National Park. Being one of the world’s tallest waterfalls, it is actually made up of three different falls. The Upper Yosemite Fall (1430 feet), the middle cascades (675ft) and the Lower Yosemite Falls (320 ft) Making up to 2,425 ft combined.
Being Summer, we were caught by surprise when Yosemite Falls was flowing steadily. It is often completely dry in summer. Usually, the best time to visit the waterfalls is during Spring.
Be prepared for crowds, we visited mid-afternoon and there were multiple tour buses and travellers, very constant. I would suggest waking up early and arriving nice and early before the crowds.
We did the one-mile loop trail which is the most popular route to see the base of the Lower Falls. This trail is also wheelchair accessible. The loop trail consists of multiple photo opportunities of the Lower falls finishing with a boardwalk that crosses over the Yosemite Creek. You also have the opportunity to learn about John Muir, a conservationist and naturalist of Yosemite lived around this part of Yosemite for a time. There are multiple signposts that teach you about his life in this area of Yosemite. Being a John Muir fan, especially for his poetry, this was a fascinating walk and to see how he described his surroundings. I too could share the same views he got to appreciate.
El Capitan – The Base of the Nose
El Capitan, need I say more. One of the most famous landmarks not just in the United States but in the world. Apple has used multiple shots of this famous granite for their desktop wallpapers, screensavers and has even named their operating software after it. This granite giant in Spanish is translated as “the captain” or “the chief” and that’s what it is exactly. Every famous view of the park includes this guy.
As someone who has admired documentaries such as “Valley Uprising” I for one was keen to check out this rock formation close up and to just see for myself where the climbers begin and the conditions are like at the base. I was super pumped to do this walk.
We parked on the Northside Drive in front of the El Capitan Meadow. We hadn’t done much research about how to actually get to the base, we used Google Maps which provided us a track and unnamed path that takes you to the base of the Nose. Being summer, there were so many flies out and I remember trying to climb over rocks and shoo flies every couple of seconds. I would highly recommend carrying and spraying insect repellent on this track. This path was like “bush bashing” as Aussies like to call it. It is not a well-made path, but that was half the fun. It was a quiet trail with not many people passing by.
When we got to the nose, I just stood at the base, stretched out my arm and stood there touching it. It was quite a spiritual moment. A creation that had stood the test of time. I just stood there in awe at just how large and glorious this famous rock was. It was a surreal moment, I reflected on the legends who had climbed and who had tackled this beast and then wanted to find out for myself what it would feel like.
To be honest, it was really slippery. I only had my runners on but it was extremely slippery and daunting trying to free climb and work out where to step next. Anyone who climbs this, I have so much respect for them.
We ended up staying for around 1.5 hours just lying looking up in silence and in awe at the climbers attempting the climb. You could hear their conversations ever so faintly. You could also feel the concentration levels screaming down the cliff face.
At the beginning of the trail, you could say it is just another easy trail through the forest. The trail had some wildflowers which had blossomed when we were there, as well as plenty of alpine-ness. The definite draw card is hiking up to Taft point. Taft point boasts vistas of Yosemite Valley including El Capitan and the Yosemite Falls. The scenery at Taft point is breathtaking, especially if you dare to get up close to the edge of the cliff and look straight down. Believe me, it is well worth doing this. Even if you’re not a big fan of heights. Once you are up on the granite looking out, you are then surrounded by granite on either side. There is limited railing so care needs to be taken when walking around the cliffs. Also, steady shoes should be worn. Taft Point is popular amongst Instagrammers as they are all trying to dangle their legs off the point. This can hold up crowds at this point, so patience may be required! They are plenty of spots to grab and picture from different aspects on the trail.
Taft point can be accessed when Glacier point is open to the public, generally May through to October.