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Waterfalls in the West

Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park
Photo caption
Yosemite Falls is a focal point for visitors to Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Falls
Springtime, snowmelt, swelling rivers—it must be the season for waterfalls. And Yosemite National Park, in California’s Sierra Nevada, abounds with them. This signature view across the Merced River spotlights the park’s namesake Yosemite Falls, plural (unlike most of the park’s cascades) because it descends in three parts. The upper and lower falls are easy to see, but the middle section—actually five minifalls—is all but hidden in what park ranger Shelton Johnson calls “600 feet of mystery.”
(209) 372-0200,

Kings Canyon Falls
Especially pretty in spring, small Kings Canyon Falls, in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest about four miles west of Carson City, Nev., tumbles over rocks centered in the creek. At the end of Kings Canyon Road, a short walk up a dirt road followed by a brief trail scramble leads to a secret canyon and a view of gushing waters. (775) 882-2766,

Shoshone Falls
Smaller than Niagara Falls, southern Idaho’s Shoshone Falls is best seen in April before the Snake River, the cascade’s source and a major provider of hydroelectric power, is diverted to irrigate farmlands. But take heed: The misty cataract leaves some visitors wishing they had brought raincoats. Before going, check on the flow at (208) 736-2265 or

Bridal Veil Falls
Like your waterfalls frozen? Check out Bridal Veil Falls near Valdez, Alaska, on the northeast tip of Prince William Sound; it often stays icy into April. You can view it from a pullout on Highway 4 (the Richardson Highway). A federa­tion of female climbers, the Alaska Ice Pixies, often invites women to join in scaling this and other frozen cascades when conditions are right. (907) 835-4636,

Photography by Kenny Karst/Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau

This article was first published in March 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.