Yosemite Falls can be seen from many places in Yosemite Valley and from trails above the valley from the Glacier Point road. You can get “classic” shots of all the three levels of the falls together or just the lower or upper fall.
The webpage describes nine locations to get photos with examples of the shots you can get at each location.
This shot is taken from Cook’s Meadow loop in Yosemite Valley.
You can find the Cook’s Meadow loop or double loop or figure eight trail by using the free shuttle bus to go to either the Main visitor center (stops 5 or 9) or to stops 6, 7 or 11. See details and many maps of each route at Cook’s Meadow.
Map of the lower Yosemite falls loop trail, (in orange more on this below)
and the Cook’s Meadow loop trail (in yellow) courtesy of the NPS:
While rafting the Merced river in Yosemite Valley:
Yosemite Falls in various seasons, from Swinging Bridge :
Below is a NPS photo of Yosemite Falls during peak flow on May 23, 2003. Notice how high the river water level is and how much more flow than in the photos above from April, February, and later summer with more normal flows.
To get to Swinging Bridge, head towards the river from free shuttle bus stop 7, or from any building at Yosemite Valley Lodge, along a parking lot road and down a path alongside Leidig Meadow.
After crossing Swinging Bridge, if you continue on the bike or walk path alongside Southside Drive
OR on your drive into the valley a bit before you get to the chapel
there is a boardwalk that leads out to the river .
In the NPS photo below of flooded Sentinel Meadow taken May 16, 2005, you can just make out the sunken edge of the boardwalk across the meadow between the two posts on the fence and can just see Yosemite Falls thru the low clouds in the background. Next to it is the same place in June, 2005 and again in February 2008
Yosemite Falls view in February snow and other seasons has more pictures and larger ones from this location.
The boardwalk described above is just beyond where the white right arrow in a black circle is on the lower road (a section of Southside Drive, your route into Yosemite Valley for any overnight accommodation, and all day-use parking lots) in the lower left corner of the map below.
From near the Ahwahnee Hotel (briefly named the Majestic Yosemite Hotel) :
To go to the Ahwahnee hotel use the free, year-round, shuttle bus and get off at stop 3.
A boardwalk leads across Stoneman Meadow across the road from the day use and guest use parking lot at Half Dome Village (Curry Village) (lower right corner of this photo) to the higher numbered loops at the back of Lower Pines Campground:
With one of the best views of Staircase Falls, here in full flow in May:
and in this panorama, Staircase Falls on the left and upper Yosemite Fall on the right, both barely visible in this photo, but stunning in person:
In the map below, the Half Dome Village day use and guest use parking lot is the green square with the letter P in white in the center of it.
From Glacier Point. (about an hour drive from Yosemite Valley, but with limited parking, so get an early start or perhaps even expect to be turned away, especially on busy summer weekends. See Glacier Point and the the Glacier Point road on this official park map.
photo above courtesy of the National Park Service (NPS)
photo below by Quang-Tuan Luong/terragalleria.com, all rights reserved.
This photo of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt at Glacier Point with Yosemite Falls in the background is from the National Park Service historic photo collection:
From Taft Point : (2.2 miles round-trip hike from the Glacier Point road, 2 +/- hours) see a map of the trail to Taft point at: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/glacierhikes.pdf and see the Glacier Point road on this official park map.
The most classic view, on the lower Yosemite Falls loop trail is of all three falls from fairly close up.
Map below is of the lower Yosemite falls loop trail, (in orange)
and the Cook’s Meadow loop trail (in yellow) courtesy of the NPS:
From Yosemite Lodge, in the lower left hand corner of the map, you can take a short walk directly to the left hand section of the lower Yosemite Fall loop (again in orange in the map above).
From this far west pathway along the loop trail, (again, a direct walk from Yosemite Lodge) the view of Yosemite Falls (lower, middle and upper, in full flow in February 2017).
I suggest to people that they stop when walking on the pathway to Lower Yosemite Fall, look at the upper fall, imagine it with full flow in the winter and then imagine the wind catching and holding the flow. Conservationist John Muir, who built a cabin in a tree near the base of Yosemite Falls in 1869, wrote about a winter storm when this happened and he counted to 190 before the wind stopped holding the water. Read his description of this at Upper Yosemite Fall held stationary in mid-air.
And see: How to find the location of John Muir’s cabin in a tree (he called it his hang nest) on this path.
Upper Yosemite Fall drops 1,430 feet. (The equivalent of nine Niagara Falls stacked on top of each other.)
Four views of the same part of the top of the upper Yosemite Fall, which you can take with your telephoto from many of the locations described at this page.
Many people who take the trail to the top of upper Yosemite Fall do not realize there is a railing out across the cliff face at the top.
Different times of the year the falls will have different water flow, for example, at the end of this page, photos in February and June. Many years in August and September it is dried up or almost dried up. (Some years with lots of snowpack it does not dry up.)
How much water will there be in the Yosemite waterfalls?
Webcam of Yosemite Falls http://www.yosemiteconservancy.org/webcams-videos
Yosemite nature podcasts: http://www.nps.gov/yose/photosmultimedia/ynn.htm episode #2 is Yosemite Falls
and see: places to take photos of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park (with maps)
Selfies can be great, OR dangerous. They were just taking a selfie.
Yosemite trail conditions info is at: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildcond.htm
The most current route map for the free Yosemite Valley shuttle bus is in the Yosemite Guide newspaper https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/guide.htm , which you will be offered a copy of as you enter the park, or can print in advance.
It looks something like this when there is no road construction, rock slides, excess snow affecting the times/routes:
(Map below courtesy of NPS)
Hiking Advice has HIKING SECRETS and etiquette including hiking in the heat, preventing and/or dealing with blisters, logistics of hiking, a day hike gear list, Half Dome hiking advice, winter hiking and the answer to the question: When is the best time of day to cross a mountain stream?
The Yosemite rangers would like you to call them if you see a bear in Yosemite, no matter where it is or what it is doing, at (209) 372-0322.)
The view of the falls in February from the far left hand portion of the lower Yosemite Falls walkways/trails, an almost straight shot from Yosemite Valley Lodge (see map with orange dotted line above):
and a view from June with much less water flow:
(Note that low clouds can cover the top of upper Yosemite Falls,
fog can hide the bottom and a winter snow storm can white-out every view up towards the cliffs.)