Rainbow in Le Conte Falls Tuolumne River

Photo: Rainbow in Le Conte Falls on the Tuolumne River, Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, Yosemite National Park, California

Waterwheels and rainbow in LeConte Falls, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
Le Conte Fall along the Tuolumne River is part of a series of waterfalls that form the start of the area known as the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. Hikers and backpackers often reach this location after descending along a trail that heads west out of Tuolumne Meadows. After passing the junction for the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, you continue downstream until you reach Le Conte Fall.

During high water years, the power and strength of the flowing water in this waterfall causes a series of cascading waterwheels along the granite apron. Due to the number of these waterwheels, most hikers and visitors mistake this waterfall for one that's further downstream named Waterwheel Fall - which has only one giant waterwheel.

After hiking eight miles downstream to shoot this waterfall at sunset, and lacking an overnight wilderness permit, I set off on the return eight-mile uphill hike. After encountering two bears in the dark while hiking by myself, I eventually got back to my truck around 2:00 AM in the morning.

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