Yosemite Waterfalls Make a Comeback

The waterfalls in Yosemite National Park are drawing crowds.
The waterfalls in Yosemite National Park are drawing crowds.
More than a century after President Theodore Roosevelt called it a beautiful cathedral, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports visitors today have a new reason to gush about Yosemite National Park in California.

While it is hard to believe the grandeur of Yosemite Valley could be improved upon, this summer it's true. Nature has made this Yosemite National Park, famous for its breathtaking views, even more magnificent than usual. And it's all because of the water - the waterfalls of Yosemite are making a roaring comeback tumbling down the granite cliffs as they haven't done in years.

Often by early July many of the valley's waterfalls, including the tallest, Yosemite Falls, aren't there at all - they've run dry.

But this year, water is still pouring down the 2,425-foot drop that makes Yosemite Falls the fifth highest waterfall in the world. The source is heavier than usual snow - 115 percent of normal - that fell this winter in the Sierra Nevada mountains. A cooler-than-usual Spring saved the big runoff for the height of tourist season.

"People are thrilled. People that haven't been here in years have been walking around and saying 'Oh my God look at these conditions,'" says park ranger Scott Gediman.

Even more impressive, it comes after several years of below normal snwfall that left many of Yosemite's waterfalls dry before summer arrived. But this year, the roar of the waterfalls into the valley below could last into August.

This year visitors are getting wet. Spray from the falls is leaving hikers drenched. The mist is also making Yosemite a valley of rainbows, providing proof that at the end of the rainbow there sometimes is a treasure.

  • John Blackstone
    John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.