Scenic USA - California

Vernal Fall

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Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park, California

Photo by Ken Reece
Ken Reece Photography

     Yosemite, a favorite of John Muir and one of the nation’s premier national parks, serves as host to more than four million visitors every year. Oddly enough, most guests only see five percent of the park and its main attractions, allowing the remainder of its 700,000 acres to exist in a near pristine condition.
     First time visitors are quickly enthralled with the park’s grove of giant trees, Yosemite Valley and its huge granite monoliths, and a score of waterfalls. Pictured here is Vernal Fall, dropping an advertised 317 feet, (one of the park’s small fries). In terms of size and grandeur, nine of the park’s waterfalls drop more than a thousand feet, while Snow Creek Falls and Yosemite Falls top 2000 feet. Once called Yanopah (Little Cloud) by Native Americans, the waterfall was renamed Vernal Fall by American troops in 1851. Because of its relative ease of access, Vernal Fall is the park’s most popular waterfall. Mist Trail leads right up to the base, where visitors are sure to feel the mist of the falls. Depending on the time of years, Vernal Fall guests may get drenched before they start their ascent to the top of the waterfall.
     On a cautionary note, swimming is absolutely forbidden atop any waterfall in the park. Not only a foolhardy idea, but strong river currents make water play here extremely dangerous and often deadly. National park visits are a trip into the wild, and not a city amusement park. Visitors sometimes assume the park's presence is entirely for their entertainment, forgetting that nature doesn't always agree with man's whims.

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