Lonely Planet Writer

Here's how to beat the crowds at Yosemite National Park's spectacular waterfalls this year

Yosemite National Park is a glorious sight to behold at any time of the year, but now spectacular waterfalls are attracting more visitors than ever. In anticipation of the busy Memorial Day weekend, park rangers have been giving the public advice on beating the crowds.

Vernal Fall
Crowds are flocking to see the spectacular waterfalls in Yosemite National Park. Image by Bas Vermolen/Getty Images

The waterfalls haven’t flowed so much since 2010 and are a result of previously unseen amounts of snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains last winter. Some of the best viewing points for this rare occurrence are Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls and the waterfalls along the Mist Trail. Waterfalls have even sprung up at new locations around the park.

Already the natural phenomenon is drawing larger numbers than usual with visitors expected to hit their peak during the upcoming holiday weekend. There is a lack of parking spaces in car parks near the waterfalls and visitors are asked, if possible, to plan their trip during the normal work week.

To avoid the traffic congestion that occurred last weekend, daytrippers should be arriving at the national park well before 9am or leave the visit until the evening. Otherwise, you should factor in 2-3 hour delays. All reserved camp spots are sold out but there will be some ‘first-come-first-served’ spots available too. Hikers can also take free shuttle buses to reach the trails to avoid driving around the park once inside.

The increased power of the waterfalls brings with it an additional risk of flooding and kayaking and rafting have been banned on some of the faster waterways. Anyone wishing to take part in those activities should check ahead. Swimmers are advised to have extra caution if they decide to take a dip.

Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park
The Vernal Falls are one of the spots where the increased snowfall is evident. Image by Mark Coté/500px

Last year the park had a record number of visitors at 5 million, a huge increase of 21% in a year. The powerful waterfalls will no doubt play their part in trying to break that record again in 2017.