The Campaign for Yosemite Falls 2005

The Campaign for Yosemite Falls 2005

Yosemite Falls is the highest and most dramatic waterfall in North America, plunging 2,565 feet from the rim of Yosemite Valley.

Working with renowned Bay Area landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and the National Park Service, Yosemite Conservancy embarked on an ambitious campaign to not only restore this area, but to set a new standard in landscape design and the visitor experience.


Before the restoration of the approach to Lower Yosemite Fall, this iconic landscape was marred by “a fume-ridden parking lot, a 10-minute walk down a miserable blacktop path to an ugly bridge.” The overcrowded, polluted parking lot was a distraction from the natural splendor and powerful sounds of the lower fall.

This situation had to change dramatically — and it did!


Today, the approach to Lower Yosemite Fall represents a beautiful example of the balance between preserving nature and enhancing the visitor experience. Visitors enjoy the results of:

  • Creation of handicapped-accessible trail leading to viewing plaza and main bridge
  • Removal of asphalt parking lot and revegetation of the area
  • Habitat restoration throughout the 52 acres, including stream banks and elimination of abandoned trails
  • Construction of new restrooms and a shuttle bus stop
  • New picnic area
  • Reconstruction of four bridges and the removal of two
  • Two new boardwalks over sensitive habitat
  • Installation of educational exhibits, orientation maps and directional signage

Throughout construction, there were extensive safeguards in place to protect the natural and cultural landscape. These included:

Archeological assessors ensured no historical artifacts were eliminated by the project construction

No stones from the park were quarried for the project

Almost all stones were recycled from other areas, including the curb wall of Arch Rock Road

Granite dust was vacuumed to protect air and water quality

Bridges were “diapered” to prevent oil-infused asphalt from entering the water

Trees were wrapped for protection and streambeds were fenced during construction

More Visitor Enrichment Projects

Project Notes

Before Yosemite Conservancy’s grant to restore Lower Yosemite Fall, it was basically becoming a wasteland. Through generous donations, we were able to design and construct pathways that blended in with this amazing natural scenery. Without them, it would have become a dirt parking lot.

Lou Summerfield
Branch Chief of Roads & Trails
Yosemite National Park