Welcome to the best waterfall in the Eastern Sierra of California. No question about it. Rainbow Falls plunges 101 ft. off a cliff on the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. A magnificent sight indeed. I have been wanting to come here for a few years now. And finally this year, we made it out to see Rainbow Falls.It was worth the wait.
It is an easy 1.2 mile hike from the trailhead down to the falls, and is well-signed the whole way. My little 3 year old girl was able to hike down and back without any problems. Once down at the falls, there are a couple excellent overlooks of the waterfall. You can also follow the steep stairs down to the bottom of Rainbow Falls, which I highly recommend as well. Going back up is a bit of a huffer if you are not used to a climb like that. Do not forget to also go down to Lower Rainbow Falls, another half-mile on the trail, which many people bypass, but it is a nice little waterfall that should not be missed either.
For photography, Rainbow Falls is best photographed at around sunset. The light is a bit flat in the morning, and the sun does not get down into the canyon until much later in the morning. If you want to see the signature "rainbow" over the waterfall (its namesake feature), then you should arrive at the falls around noon-ish.
Although there were not any right at Rainbow Falls, I was surprised to see that there were quite a number of mosquitoes in the Monument when we were here in very early June. I suspect that means that later in the summer, this place will be swamped with the little buggers. Speaking of the Monument, you should also be sure to visit the Devils Postpile, which is located a couple miles up river, but is best accessed from the ranger station. Also, be sure to visit the 2nd best waterfall in the Eastern Sierra, namely Minaret Falls, which is also found just upstream.
Get Google Maps directions to trailhead
Zoom out on map to see all nearby waterfalls:
Other waterfalls nearby:
Add Your Comment for Rainbow Falls