Vernal Fall is only 317 ft (96 m) tall but it is among the most powerful waterfalls in Yosemite. Unlike Yosemite Fall or Bridalveil Fall, Vernal cannot be viewed from the valley floor by car. To see it you must get on the trail. Luckily you have lots of options. The easiest path is along a well-marked path that begins near the Happy Isles Nature Center. You can a free shuttle bus to Happy Isles Nature Center or walk there from Half Dome Village. From there follow the trailhead to Vernal Fall footbridge (about 1 mile) or continue on to the top of the waterfall. This is a great option if you want to wander through the mist of this very powerful waterfall.
In the winter, the trail to the base of 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.
Another great hike for experiencing Vernal Fall is from 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 tends to run almost year round except for in late August and before the first rains of autumn. It can be slippery or icy in winter and some section of the trail may close.
Take a Virtual Tour
*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.