Man Killed After Being Swept Off Bridge at Wapama Falls in Yosemite National Park, CA

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Wapama Falls bridge, Yosemite NP, CA. photo: joel c wilson

According to authorities and the Union Democrat, a 66-year-old man slipped on a bridge and was cast into Wapama Falls in Yosemite National Park on Thursday afternoon.  His body ended up in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, San Francisco’s drinking water supply, according to Yosemite National Park officials.

“We do not know what caused him to slip and fall.” –  Jamie Richards with Yosemite National Park public affairs told the Union Democrat on Monday

Wapama Falls and all Yosemite’s waterfalls are currently raging around 200% of average flows right now due to the 200% of average snowpack in Yosemite this winter.  

Wapama Falls warning sign. photo:, June 1st, 2017

Wapama Falls bridge is a thrilling yet dangerous experience in the springtime when big runoff swells the waterfall until it’s hitting the bridge, soaking any passerby.  

The bridges across Wapama Falls were closed all spring due to dangers conditions until a the last days of May.

A sign at the entrance to the bridges warns visitors: “DANGEROUS HIGH WATER AT WAPAMA FALLS FOOTBRIDGES CROSS AT YOUR OWN RISK.”

Two 53-year-old LA County men were swept into the falls to their deaths from the same Wapama bridge back in June 2011.  

Man crossing Wapama Falls bridge on June 1st, 2017. photo:

The Wapama Falls bridges are about a 3 mile hike from the parking lot at the Hetch Hetchy dam.

Hetch Hetchy reservoir is currently 98% full.

Between Jan. 1 and May 31, 2017, over 83,000 people have entered the Hetch Hetchy area.  Over 1.2 million entered Yosemite National Park during that same timespan.


Wapama Falls is the larger of two waterfalls located on the northern wall of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. It flows almost year-round and during peak flow has been known to inundate the trail bridge crossing its base, making the falls impossible to pass. The falls consist of two primary drops angled roughly 60 degrees to each other, and a broad cascade at its base. Wapama Falls is fed by Lake Vernon, a few miles to the north.

Wapama Falls descends just under 1,100 feet.[1] Like Yosemite Falls, it has three distinct parts. The topmost is a free drop of perhaps 300 feet, followed by a steeply-cascading stream which descends 600 feet in a steep-sided gorge, much like the stream between Upper and Lower Yosemite Fall. These cascades cannot be seen in their entirety from the trail: such a view is seen from across the Valley high on Kolana Rock. Finally, the bottom drop, seen from the dam and intimately from the trail, is one of about 200 feet down an escarpment that is not vertical, but in high water the water shoots outward to clear this descent.

Visitors can reach Wapama Falls by hiking 2.5 miles (4.0 km) up Hetch Hetchy Reservoir Trail from O’Shaughnessy Dam. – Wikipedia

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