Bridalveil Fall & Swinging Bridge, Yosemite in Winter

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I was in Yosemite for less than 72 hours, but I still managed to experience almost every imaginable kind of winter weather: snow, sleet, drizzle, clouds, and brilliant blue sky. As I arrived on Day 4, I was experiencing the worst of those possibilities.  It was cold (in the upper 30’s, probably), and as you can see from my lens…

…a little bit of rain was occasionally falling.  This certainly wasn’t ideal weather for photographing something as magnificent as Bridalveil Fall, but I did anyhow.

Bridalveil Fall is located near the mouth of Yosemite Valley.  It’s one of the most prominent landmarks you’ll see from Tunnel View, and it’s also one of the first attractions you’ll probably visit, since it’s conveniently located on the way in.  From the parking area, a short walk leads up to the base of the waterfall.  You can scramble up the slick rocks to get even closer, but on this visit, I didn’t see much point.  At the base of the falls, you’re almost too close to appreciate it.  It’s better to view it…

… from the opposite side of the valley.  I took this picture on Day 5, from Northside Drive (on the opposite side of the Merced River).

And now, a word or two about Yosemite Valley’s roads.  There is one road into, and one road out of the valley.  Both of these roads are two lanes, and one way.  They are separated by the Merced River, and only a few bridges connect them.  This can lead to a lot of frustration: if you miss the place where you wanted to stop, you can’t turn around — you must drive to the next bridge, cross the river, drive up the other side, cross again, then drive back down.  Also, traffic is horrendous in spring and summer, to the point where driving anywhere in the valley is prohibitively time-consuming.  Make sure you’ve looked at the map and made your plan before you start driving, so that you don’t make a mistake.

Since the weather wasn’t great, I bypassed the viewing areas for El Capitan, and continued on, to…

Swinging Bridge

Swinging Bridge doesn’t actually swing.  Also, it’s only for pedestrians (the next car crossing is at Sentinel Bridge).  But, it’s a great place to take in some of Yosemite Valley’s scenery.

I’ve also read that the water below Swinging Bridge is a popular swimming hole in summer. Needless to say, no one was swimming on this day.  The water couldn’t have been much warmer than the half-melted snow that was still lying on the ground from the most recent snowfall.

If you’re lucky enough to visit at a time when no one is splashing around in the water, you should get a great reflection of Upper Yosemite Fall.  It’s not terribly far to walk from here to the Yosemite Falls trailhead, only about a mile, and you’ll pass the Lodge at the Falls along the way.

Or, you can just hang out here, and make a really pathetic snowman.

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