Vernal Fall stands at 317 ft (96 m) tall and is among the most powerful waterfalls in Yosemite. Unlike Yosemite Fall or Bridalveil Fall, Vernal cannot be viewed from the valley floor by car.
For an up-close view of the waterfall, you have a few hiking options. The most straightforward route is along a well-marked path that begins near the Happy Isles Nature Center – the Mist Trail. You can take a free shuttle bus to Happy Isles Nature Center or walk there from Curry Village. From there follow the trailhead to Vernal Fall footbridge (about 1 mile) or continue on to the top of the waterfall. The Mist Trail is a great option if you want to wander through the mist of this very powerful waterfall.
In the winter, the lower part of the trail to Vernal Fall generally remains open and you can walk a mile to the footbridge and enjoy a beautiful view from the base of the falls. However, the steep stairs next to the waterfall because icy and hazardous, so that section of the trail closes, and hikers can enjoy views of Vernal Fall from the John Muir Trail instead.
Hike as far as you like, and then turn around to return to the valley floor.
Another option for experiencing Vernal Fall is on the Panorama Trail hike. Meander downhill from Glacier Point until you connect with the Mist Trail and walk alongside both Nevada and Vernal Falls on your way down to the valley.
The best time of year for seeing Vernal Fall at peak flow is late April to early May, but this waterfall runs year-round.
*Warning* The water is very fast and cold at Vernal Fall, never enter the water either at the top of the waterfall or anywhere along the trail.