Tales From The Camping House

Tales From The Camping House

Monday, May 27, 2013

Hetch Hetchy Valley

We were certainly glad we decided not to go into Yosemite on Saturday and Sunday. There were signs outside the park warning of two hour delays in the valley.

The weekend was nice and cool with the highs in the seventies and the low in the high forties. In fact we went to an outdoor concert in the rv park and for the first time that I can remember wore jackets on Memorial Day weekend. I left thirty minutes early because I was cold.

Monday, we went to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the northwest corner of the park. The name comes from an American Indian word hatchhatchie meaning edible grasses.

We passed many cars, rvs, and trailers going the other way heading home from their Memorial Day weekend.

We had a small world moment when we talked to the park ranger who said she was from San Antonio too. We found out she was from the same area we had lived in and went to the same junior high our son went to and the same high school I had graduated from.

We made the drive downward to the valley and got our first glance at the dam and Wapama Fall. You can see Wapama Fall just above the middle of the reservoir on the right side of the picture.

As early as 1882, Hetch Hetchy Valley was looked at as a potential new reservoir. Preservationists led by John Muir wanted the valley to remain untouched. San Francisco was facing a water and power shortage. Dam supporters were convinced a reservoir would offer social and economic benefits. After the 1906 earthquake and fire, public sympathy was swayed for the reservoir and the first phase of the dam. Depending on which account you read, some say John Muir was so devastated about this, he died soon after.

We found a parking spot and walked over to the spillway. We passed another view of Wapama Fall.

There is a walkway over the dam where you can get great panoramic views from both sides.

As you walk over the walkway, you come to a tunnel that was originally used by trains to haul men and supplies. Now much of the trail to Wapama Fall is from that track.

We began our 5.5 mile round trip hike to the fall. After we went through the tunnel, we followed a trail around the lake with wonderful views.

Much of the trail was shaded, it started out pretty flat, but then we began an upward climb. The day was gorgeous with temperatures in the fifties.

We passed this lizard on our way

and more blooming wildflowers.

We followed the trail on top of boulders with little brooks running through them.

The trail continued along the reservoir. Because this is the drinking water for the San Francisco and the Bay Area, there is no boating or swimming.

We finally made it to the fall. It was spectacular and worth the journey! The fall is one of the tallest in North America plummeting over thousand foot granite cliffs.

Another view from the side.

Our "we were there" picture

We made our way back much quicker as the clouds were getting darker, winds picked up, and there were some rain drops on our way back. We really didn't want to get caught in rain with all the ups and downs and slick rocks on the trails. We made it back safely and never got too wet.


  1. Hi! Now you are in my backyard! So glad you visited Hetchy! I worked here (supervised watershed keepers who do dam operations) for many many years. And you are the very first rv blogger I have ever seen write about Hetchy. :))

  2. Beautiful waterfall. We have got to go do that hike!!