Scenic hike that follows along the Tuolumne River. Plenty of spectacular swimming holes along the way. Multitude of waterfalls. Distance: 18 miles round trip from Tuolumne Meadows.

Waterwheel Falls may be the most unique waterfall in Yosemite. During high waterflow an extraordinary phenomenon appears as the raging water hits a series of ledges creating a plume, this coupled with strong gust blowing upward create cyclical "waterwheel" effect hence the name.

On a good day these waterwheels can reach heights of 30ft. Bring the camera, tripod, and neutral density filter for some beautiful long exposure shots of the falls.

If the long 18 mile round trip sounds a bit daunting... Make it an overnight trip and stay at the backpackers campground at the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp just 3.3 Miles before you get to the Falls.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Food... it's a long day you'll want it
  • Camera gear
  • Wilderness permit (If planning to make it an overnight trip)
  • Swimsuit
  • Waterproof shell (weather can change quickly in the high sierra)
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Activities Chillin, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Summer
Features
Easy Parking
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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