Hidden Adventures: Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sometimes, taking the road less traveled can lead to the greatest reward.

Spreck Rosekrans would tell you that's the case with Hetch Hetchy, the only area in Yosemite National Park that doesn't require a prior reservation to drive to.

"If you talk to people who come here for the first time, they're amazed," said Rosekrans, the executive director of Restore Hetch Hetchy.

The gate that leads to the area is the least-visited gate in the park. While the pandemic and large crowds forced Yosemite officials to implement a reservation system for other parts of the park, the lesser amount of visitors to Hetch Hetchy means you can go on a whim.

"I came here for the first time about 20 years ago. Hetch Hetchy Valley was similarly compared to Yosemite Valley by John Muir 120 years ago," Rosekrans said. "There's cascading waterfalls off of tall granite cliffs."

One of those waterfalls is your reward for a hike that's just over 5 miles roundtrip - Wapama Falls.

"All the waterfalls in Yosemite are fantastic, and they're all different in their own way, but Wapama is one of the tallest and one of the biggest in terms of volume of water," Rosekrans explained. "It's not straight down, it's sort of twisting and turning as it falls off the cliff. There's no waterfall similar to that in Yosemite Valley."

If you want to do the hike yourself, give yourself at least two to three hours. It's not terribly taxing, but you'll want to stop to take in the view quite a few times.

A little over two and a half miles into your hike, you'll hear the water cascading down the granite cliffs before reaching a bridge that takes you right in front of Wapama Falls.

During the summer, you can cross the bridge, but during the spring, the water can flow so rapidly that it makes the bridge impassable. Since it's summer of a dry year, you can walk right across the bridge, find a spot to rest, and enjoy the views that only a road less traveled can bring you.

"People need to come to Hetch Hetchy, people need to see this part of Yosemite," Rosekrans said. "People need to go to Wapama Falls, they need to see these cliffs and Kalana rock, and the wildflowers here and see how gorgeous a part of Yosemite Hetch Hetchy really is."

To learn more about Hetch Hetchy and the activities available there, click here.
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