What Time Is It? (Hint: Waterfall Time)

Ever witnessed one of nature's crashingest, thrillingest glories?

Kenny Karst

WATER MOVING DOWNWARD... is an act we can admire any time we turn on the tub or a sink or the garden hose. Gravity and flow play their parts, regardless of how large the amount of H20, and the general act of the wet stuff moving from Point A to Point B typically plays out in the same way. But our response tends to change when several thousands of gallons of water are moving at a rapid pace over a cliff face and falling hundreds of feet to a river or pool below. Gravity and flow are still at play, but we're witnessing a waterfall, one of nature's most beautiful sights. (A subjective category, but we'll just stand on the fact that waterfalls can and do show up inside nature calendars with frequency.) They're found all over California, even in small arroyos and washes, but Waterfall Planet (tm)? That's Yosemite National Park. And while some of the falls within the picturesque valley are known for keeping a fairly perky year-round schedule -- Bridalveil Fall, we're looking at you, with admiration -- springtime is when things truly pick up in the waterfall department. That's because, in much the same way that April showers bring May flowers, late winter snow melt fuels the running water needed to feed the falls. (Okay, not quite the catchy rhyme, but we'll stick with it.)

WANT TO SEE THE SPARKLY SIGHTS? There are so many of them, but if you go for the valley, you're set for some of the biggies, including Bridalveil, Yosemite, Vernal, and Nevada. Oh, and Horsetail, which puts on its own sunset-driven show for a brief window at the end of February and the beginning of March. For maximum waterfall enjoyment, April and May tend to be good viewing times, too, and you'll get the added benefit of wildflower action in some of the higher meadows. When we mentioned nature calendars before, we should have mentioned that all nature calendars everywhere likely look to Yosemite in the springtime, for inspiration and motivation, regardless of the calendar's particular subject. How could they not? The valley is a veritable sparkly-drop wonderland of gravity acting upon water in the most spectacular fashion.

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