Oct 31, 2017
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A Trip to Hetch Hetchy and the O’Shaughnessy Dam

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Hetch Hetchy and the O’Shaughnessy Dam

We were driving through the north western part of Yosemite National Park when we stumbled on this…
Gateway to Hetch Hetchy park, California
The ‘Gateway to Hetch Hetchy’, and we wondered, where it would take us. So obviously, we entered into the unknown.
Water power, Hetchy Hetchy, California




It turns out Hetch Hetchy is a reservoir held together by the enormous O’Shaughnessy Dam in the heart of California.
Cliffs at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, California
Who knew! We’re writing a post about our trip here becasuse it was an incredible experience away from the hustle and bustle and tourism of Yosemite National Park.
O Shaughnessey dam, California
Hetch hetch o'shaunassey Dam, California information board
Hetch Hetchy and the O’Shaughnessy dam should not be overlooked while visiting Yosemite National Park, the scenery here is incredible and you’ll find quiet spots throughout the area to picnic and enjoy the moment away from tourists who flock in from San Francisco and Los Angeles.
On top of hetch hetchy dam, California
The full Hetch Hetchy Project provides 80% of the water supply for 2.6 million people.



Hetch Hetchy Facts

Hetch Hetchy is the name of the glacial valley where the reservoir resides. Hetch Hetchy is the collective name for the whole water system.
Drought wall at Hetch Hetchy reservoir, California
The Hetch Hetchy reservoir is drained by the Tuolumne River and the entire area is known for its natural beauty, similar to its neighbor in the Yosemite Valley.
Water at Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite, California
In 1923, as part of the Hetch Hetchy Project, the O’Shaughnessy Dam was built on the Tuolumne River with the purpose of building up the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
Hetch Hetchy dam, water, California
The Hetch Hetchy dam and reservoir are the centerpieces of the project, and since 1934, it began to deliver water 167 miles (269 km) west to San Francisco and its client municipalities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
Scenery at Hetch Hetchy, California dam
The city of San Francisco pays a lease of around $30,000 per year for the use of Hetch Hetchy, which sits on federal land.
Walking path on Hetch Hetchy Dam, Yosemite, California
Approximately 265,000 acre·ft (327,000 dam3) of water is delivered each year, or 31,900,000 cu ft (900,000 m3) per day, to residents of San Francisco and San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Alameda Counties.
Hydro power, Hetch Hetchy dam, California
The journey the water takes is approximately 160 miles.
Hetch Hetchy mountains, California, Yosemite



O’Shaughnessey Dam Facts

The O’Shaughnessy Dam and reservoir, and the series of aqueducts, tunnels, and tunnels as well as 8 other dams make up the entire Hetch Hetchy Project.
Looking down a dam, Hetch Hetchy, California
The O’Shaughnessy Dam is 430-foot (131 m) high made of concrete and it is named after engineer Michael O’Shaughnessy, who oversaw the entire construction.
View of Hetch Hetchy dam, California
The Dam may not have existed if it wasn’t for the disastrous earthquake and fire of 1906, which underscored the insufficiency of the existing water supply.
Close up Hetch Hetchy dam, California
In 1890, the city of San Francisco was rapidly outgrowing its limited water supply, which depended on intermittent local springs and streams and San Francisco mayor James D. Phelan proposed to build a dam and aqueduct on the Tuolumne River which ultimately spawned the fixture of the O’Shaughnessy Dam.

The Journey through the Valley

A dual paved road takes you through the beautiful scenery of the Hetch Hetchy Valley, exactly like the roads through Yosemite National Park.
Landscape at Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite, California
It’s easy to see where there was a lot of controversies when the Hetch Hetchy Project was implemented, the scenic views, beautiful flora and natural wonder is somewhat interrupted by the presence of the enormous Dam and hydro water.
Hiking path, Hetch Hetchy, California
The Hetchy Hetchy Valley was chosen for its water quality and hydroelectric potential, and it’s quite an experience finding it at the center of one of the most popular national parks in the system.
Hetch Hetchy dam, close up, California




There are a few spots to pull over for incredible views when driving downhill to the Dam itself. H3 was a good spot for one of the best views we have ever encountered in California.
Standing at Hetch Hetchy Landscape, California
H3 viewpoint, Hetch Hetchy, California
Seriously, where else can you get an unspoiled, peaceful view like this…
View at Hetch Hetchy, California
The drive to the O’Shaughnessy Dam is downhill, straightforward and peaceful. There is a campground by the dam and easy parking.
Hetch Hetchy landscape, Yosemite, California
Exit your vehicle and walk across the dam for an experience you’ll never forget.
Standing on top of Hetch Hetchy dam, California
View from Hetch Hetchy trail head, California
Enjoy the informative boards that tell you how and when the dam was built…
Hetch Hetchy railroad information board, California
And how much renewable energy it brings to over 2 million people 160 miles away.
Clean renewable energy, Hetch Hetchy, California
Venture through the dark tunnel at the end of the Dam head if you dare…
Inside Tunnel, Hetch Hetchy, California
Pedestrian Tunnel, Hetch Hetchy, California
The tunnel leads to the Hetch Hetchy Trailhead where you can walk around the reservoir among beautiful cliffs and pine trees, just keep an eye out for black bears!
Hetch Hetchy trail head sign, California



For More Information, Visit the Official Site.


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Article Categories:
California · National Park · North America · USA

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