Yosemite National Park, with its mesmerizing waterfalls, presents a unique natural phenomenon during the high country snowmelt season – the Yosemite moonbow. This captivating lunar rainbow, arising from the moon’s rays refracting in the water droplets of the mist from Yosemite’s waterfalls, has inspired many passionate pilgrims. To witness this elusive marvel, specific conditions must be met, such as a full moon, clear sky, and mist from waterfalls gushing with spring snowmelt.
Enthusiasts can increase their chances of encountering a moonbow by following expert predictions and visiting the park during prime moonbow hunting seasons. Capturing this fleeting beauty is best achieved through photography, with many photographers gearing up to document this rare event in their favorite waterfall locations.
To photograph a moonbow, bring a camera that supports manual focus and long exposures in low light settings, a tripod, a cloth to wipe mist from the lens, and a plastic bag to cover the camera. Remember to turn off the flash and be considerate of other photographers.
Yosemite National Park has various locations to view moonbows, ranging from easy hikes to strenuous climbs. Some popular spots include Bridalveil Fall, Lower Yosemite Fall, Columbia Rock/Upper Yosemite Fall, Cook’s Meadow, The Mist Trail (Vernal and Nevada Falls), Glacier Point, Ribbon Fall, and Wapama Falls (Hetch Hetchy).
While chasing moonbows, remember to bring essential gear such as layered clothing with a waterproof shell, grippy hiking shoes, a flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries, trail snacks, a thermos of your preferred hot beverage, and a portable camp chair. If venturing off-the-beaten-path, scout your location during daylight hours or arrive early to set up at tried-and-true locations.
Moonbow hunting in Yosemite National Park offers an unparalleled experience, providing adventurers with unforgettable memories and breathtaking photographs. With the right preparation and determination, you can increase your chances of witnessing this enchanting lunar spectacle.
Here are some great tips and views of moonbows in Yosemite from the National Park Service: