The Best Time To View Yosemite Waterfalls

Yosemite Waterfalls

Yosemite waterfalls are some of the most spectacular in the world. Whether it is the thundering water, misty rainbows, or even moonbows you are after, there is a best viewing time for everything. But how are you to know? There are now a couple of websites to help you figure out best times for all things waterfall related and plan your trip accordingly. 

In general, the best time to see Yosemite waterfalls in the spring, when most of the snowmelt occurs. Peak runoff typically occurs between May-June, but how are you supposed to figure out the BEST time? Have no fear – the California Nevada River Forecast Center delivers up to date forecasts of when the rivers in and around Yosemite will be at their peak, meaning the waterfalls will be at their most spectacular. Right now, it appears the second week in May is the best time for viewing. If you are looking to get away from the crowds but still want some spectacular waterfall viewing, head over to Wapama Falls at Hetch Hetchy.

Full waterfalls also mean fabulous moonbow or lunar rainbow sightings. Moonbows occur only a few days each year, and for them to happen, many factors must come into alignment. These factors include: clear skies, enough water in Yosemite Falls to create sufficient mist, dark skies, bright moonlight not blocked by the surrounding mountains, and the correct rainbow-making geometry.

Moonbows are pretty tough to predict way ahead of time but Texas State University has taken on the challenge. According to their calculations, both the second week in April and May look to deliver perfect moonbow conditions.

As always, the rivers and waterfalls of Yosemite are to be respected. One teen has already drowned in the Merced this year and on average, there are many drownings each year at the park. Visitors are always warned to take precautions when swimming or hiking near the falls. 

Moonbows are on my viewing list this year. How about you?

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