The North Tahoe Fire Protection District said the woman died at Eagle Falls overlooking Lake Tahoe.
Her identity has not been released.
Fire district spokesperson Erin Holland said that witnesses reported the young woman was too close to the edge of the waterfall which cascades into the lake from 150 feet.
There was no guardrail blocking access to the area, she added.
“Crews from the Tahoe Truckee Regional Rescue Team responded to Eagle Falls in Emerald Bay to recover the body of a young woman who was taking photos at the falls, lost her footing and went over,” the fire department said.
It added: “This is a sad reminder to be cautious when taking selfies and other photos in dangerous areas. Don’t underestimate the power of waterfalls, rivers, and cold water temperatures.”
Ms Holland said very cold water feeding the waterfall is moving especially fast because of a record snowfall in the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains.
It is one of a number of photo-related deaths in the California countryside over the last year.
In September, an 18-year-old Israeli man died after not being able to hang on while dangling from the top of Yosemite’s Nevada Fall for a selfie.
A couple fell 800 feet to their deaths off Yosemite National Park’s Taft Point just a month later. It was not immediately clear what caused them to fall, but the male victim’s brother later said the pair was taking a selfie just before the fatal plummet.