Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in the United States and one of the most famous natural sites in the American national park system. Consisting of two drops separated by cascades, Yosemite Falls tower at nearly half a mile in height. It is one of the signature attractions of Yosemite National Park and one of the most popular destinations for tourists in the state of California. As part of Yosemite National Park, the falls are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Yosemite area was probably discovered by the first humans over five thousand years ago, and was inhabited by local Ahwahneechee tribes perhaps as far back as three thousand years. An American military expedition stumbled upon the valley and falls in 1851, an event recorded by Lafayette Bunnell. The Yosemite Falls became a popular tourist destination in the late 19th century, and in 1890 the entire valley was designated as a national park.
Yosemite Falls is fed by Yosemite Creek, a waterway created primarily by snow meltoff in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It consists of an initial drop of 1,430 feet, the middle cascades which fall 675 feet, and a second drop of 320 feet. The flow can vary widely, depending on winter snowfall and other precipitation throughout the year (the falls do slow to a trickle on occasion). The best time to visit the falls is in the spring.
Yosemite National Park is located in Central California and is surrounded by major population centers. With nearly four million annual visitors it is one of the most visited national parks in the country. In addition to the falls it is home to the granite mountain known as El Capitan, groves of giant trees, herds of mule deer and bighorn sheep and an endless variety of other sites. Web: www.nps.gov/yose (official website).
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