Virginia Cascade

Yellowstone National Park / Madison / Park County, Wyoming, USA

Rating: 2     Difficulty: 1
Virginia Cascade

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Virginia Cascade was an attractive cascade that tumbled noticeably on the Gibbon River in a densely forested canyon. It was said to have a drop of 60ft, and since it was on the Gibbon River, it had a pretty healthy flow both times we've seen it (once in June 2004 and another in August 2017). While this waterfall was a quick visit for us as it was essentially roadside, there seemed to be quite a bit of history with it. According to The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery, the waterfall was named in 1886 after the wife of Charles Gibson (the founder of the Yellowstone Park Association) by Ed Lamartine, who himself was the person in charge of building the first road in the area. This stagecoach road would ultimately become the Virginia Cascade Drive, which was the narrow one-way road that allowed us to experience the falls as you see pictured at the top of this page. The National Park Service produced a very informative video about this waterfall and the road itself, which I'm sharing here.

As you can see from the photos on this page, it wasn't easy to get a clean look at the falls given the thickness of the foliage tending to obstruct the waterfall's base. Also, unlike the early visitors who arrived by stagecoach, we also weren't able to find a way to get to the bottom of the falls, which was said to be the best place to the Virginia Cascade (the Yellowstone Waterfalls book referenced above had a picture of the falls from such a spot). The way we got the picture above was along one of the rare unsigned pullouts on the one-way Virginia Cascade Road. Given that we had driven this road a few times, we went slow and knew to look for such pullouts (which seemed to be more obvious on our latest August 2017 visit than on our June 2004 visit), but I could easily see how such pullouts could be missed if you weren't looking for them. Once we found a suitable pullout, then we got out of the car and walked towards better viewing spots along the road without the stress of worrying about blocking the narrow road. Finally, since this waterfall was west-facing, we found out the hard way that it was best seen in the afternoon when we wouldn't be looking against the sun.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Further east of the Virginia Cascades Drive was the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, which was probably Yellowstone National Park's most dramatic spot for landscape sceneryFurther east of the Virginia Cascades Drive was the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, which was probably Yellowstone National Park's most dramatic spot for landscape scenery
Close to the Virginia Cascade Road turnoff is the Norris Geyser Basin.  This photo here was taken from the Porcelain Basin portion.  Guess how it got its name.Close to the Virginia Cascade Road turnoff is the Norris Geyser Basin. This photo here was taken from the Porcelain Basin portion. Guess how it got its name.
Even though Norris was geothermally active during our visit, the geysers weren't predictable.  So none of them went off as we had hoped.  Instead, we got intriguing pools like this one at the Echinus GeyserEven though Norris was geothermally active during our visit, the geysers weren't predictable. So none of them went off as we had hoped, but we got intriguing pools like this one at the Echinus Geyser
On the narrow Virginia Cascades Drive approaching the Virginia CascadeOn the narrow Virginia Cascades Drive approaching the falls

Just to give you a sense of why the road was one-way, here was a truck driving past. It was hard to believe that this road once supported bi-directional traffic in its past!Just to give you a sense of why the road was one-way, here was a truck driving past. It was hard to believe that this road once supported bi-directional traffic in its past!

Contextual look at the Virginia Cascade and the narrow roadContextual look at the Virginia Cascade and the narrow road

Looking back at the pullout where we stopped the car to get a better look at the Virginia CascadeLooking back at the pullout where we stopped the car to get a better look at the waterfall

I walked far enough on the road to where the views of Virginia Cascade had gotten worse so I turned backI walked far enough on the road to where the views of the falls had gotten worse so I turned back

Angled but obstructed view of Virginia Cascade from near my turnaround spotAngled but obstructed view of the falls from near my turnaround spot

The familiar frontal view of the Virginia Cascade in the late afternoonThe familiar frontal view of the Virginia Cascade in the late afternoon

Our first look at the Virginia Cascade in the morning from back in June 2004Our first look at the falls in the morning from back in June 2004

More focused look at the Virginia Cascade from that June 2004 visitMore focused look at the Virginia Cascade from that June 2004 visit

Contextual view of Virginia Cascade as we walked around looking to improve our views back during our June 2004 visit. Somehow it didn't seem like we succeeded in doing thatContextual view of the falls as we walked around looking to improve our views back during our June 2004 visit. Somehow it didn't seem like we succeeded in doing that

Towards the end of the Virginia Cascades loop road, we saw this elk grazing right next to the one-way roadTowards the end of the loop road, we saw this elk grazing right next to the one-way road


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Checking out the falls from a distance from a few different spots along the Virginia Cascade Drive


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Look for the entrance to the one-way Virginia Cascades Drive, which left the Grand Loop Road on the right at about 1.7 miles east of the Norris Junction (or on the left at about 9.9 miles west of the Canyon Junction). The road exited and rejoined the Grand Loop Road about just under 2 miles east of the road's entrance (or 3.6 miles east of Norris Junction and 8 miles west of Canyon Junction). Norris Junction is about 45 minutes drive (28 miles) east of West Yellowstone, Montana.

For geographical context, West Yellowstone was 58 miles (at least 90 minutes drive) south of Gardiner, Montana, 90 miles (over 90 minutes drive) south of Bozeman, Montana, 72 miles (under 2 hours drive) north of Flagg Ranch (near Yellowstone's South Entrance), and 321 miles (about 4.5 hours drive) north of Salt Lake City, Utah.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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