Best time to travel to Yosemite

Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite 2024

One of the least visited parts of the Yosemite Valley has a range of scenic hiking trails and an enormous dam

Best time: March–November

Hetch Hetchy Valley
Hetch Hetchy Valley
Hetch Hetchy Valley

See the beauty of spring's splendor at Hetch Hetchy Valley, located in the northwest corner of Yosemite Valley. The park will open to you from a completely new perspective. The greatest charm of this spot is its natural wilderness and absence of gift shops, snack stands, and crowds.

The cliffs of the Hetch Hetchy frame a 12 km long reservoir held by O’Shaughnessy Dam. This area was once flooded to create a water supply for San Francisco. It's a perfect place for hiking with the longest hiking season in the area. Go across the dam’s concrete crest and through a tunnel to start a 3-km trail that leads to amazing Wapama Falls. Along the way, you'll also pass Tueeulala Falls. Both boisterous cascades fall 300 m over granite walls into the deep blue lake. The peak of the water flow is in spring.

Carpets of beautiful wildflowers cover the shoreline during April through June. Springtime is probably the best time to visit the valley to witness thundering waterfalls and wildflower blooming. Summer weekends are the busiest time in the whole Yosemite Valley. Autumn is also a good season for a visit. In winter, you might need snowshoes to explore the Valley.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite?

The period from March through November is the perfect time to visit Hetch Hetchy Valley. Visitors are advised to plan their visit in spring to see the valley covered with wildflowers and cascading waterfalls at their finest. Yosemite's summer season is the busiest; in contrast, autumn boasts cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. Hiking in the winter requires snowshoes due to harsher weather conditions. Show more

Where is Hetch Hetchy Valley located in Yosemite?

Nestled in the northwest corner of Yosemite Valley, California, is Hetch Hetchy Valley. The valley can be accessed from Evergreen Road and is approximately four hours' drive from San Francisco. The area is renowned for its scenic hiking trails, natural wilderness, and a 12 km long reservoir created by O’Shaughnessy Dam. The valley also serves as a primary source of water for San Francisco residents. Show more

What is the hiking season in Hetch Hetchy Valley?

The ideal hiking season for Hetch Hetchy Valley lies between March and November, offering a more extended duration than other Yosemite regions. The valley presents a diverse range of scenic and difficulty-level trails beneficial to hikers, such as the Wapama Fall's 3 km trail. Spring is home to colorful wildflower blooms, while autumn serves as a relief from the summer heat with cooler temperatures. Hiking in winter warrants snowshoes to navigate around harsh conditions. Show more

What are the main waterfalls in the Hetch Hetchy Valley hiking trail?

Hetch Hetchy Valley hiking's primary highlight is the breathtaking Wapama Falls and Tueeulala Falls. Enroute the 3 km hiking trail, Wapama Falls drops a scenic 300 m over the granite walls into the blue reservoir. Tueeulala Falls, further upstream, is another jewel on the trail, with a similar drop height of over 300 m. Spring visitors get to enjoy the waterfalls at full flow while relishing the sound and scenic view. Show more

Are there any crowds at Hetch Hetchy Valley?

Hetch Hetchy Valley is known for its intimacy as it is not as populated as other Yosemite regions, making it a perfect getaway for hikers seeking a more peaceful experience. Visitors seeking stunning waterfalls and wildflowers should particularly drop by during spring, while weekends during summer are the busiest. Autumn bestows visitors with milder weather conditions and fewer crowds than during the summer season. Show more

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