Don’t go looking for a torrent of water flowing over Vernal Fall in September. By late summer, this ephemeral waterfall in Yosemite National Park can be reduced to a trickle of small streams slipping over the edge. May is the month to see Vernal Fall at full power, as the spring thaw melts the snowpack, turning the falls into a raging tumble of water making its way to the valley floor where the Merced River flows. A short, steep hike up Mist Trail—so named because this time of year, the spray from the falls will soak hikers—allows for safe, yet breathtaking views of Vernal Fall before the spigot slowly closes as summer marches on.
Vernal Fall is a 317-foot waterfall on the Merced River just downstream of Nevada Fall in Yosemite National Park, California. Like its upstream neighbor, Vernal Fall is clearly visible at a distance, from Glacier Point, as well as close up, along the Mist Trail. The waterfall flows all year long, although by the end of summer it is substantially reduced in volume and can split into multiple strands, rather than a single curtain of water.