Royal Arch Cascade

Yosemite National Park / Yosemite Valley, California, USA

Rating: 1     Difficulty: 1
Royal Arch Cascade before North Dome
Royal Arch Cascade is a stringy waterfall tumbling between the Ahwahnee Hotel and the Royal Arches, which formed from the calving of the granite wall on which it resides leaving behind arches (though they're not natural arches).

Although we've only seen this waterfall during the annual spring snowmelt, I've read that it can expand and decorate the granite wall on which it tumbles during a heavy thunderstorm (which might occur during the Summer months when pop-up thunderstorms become the norm). We haven't seen the cascade do the expansion due to a sudden downpour from a thunderstorm so we can only imagine how much of a spectacle it might become should it occur. Instead, we only spotted this cascade in its narrow state, which you can see from the photos on this page. Given its generally weak flow, I don't think it can be reliably seen by June unless the snow pack is high. When it's dry or trickling, only streaks are left on the wall.

Until we started to consciously look for this waterfall, it was easy to miss it because it neighbored other granite formations (in addition to the Royal Arches) such as North Dome and the Washington Column. I also heard that rock climbers like to ascend the Royal Arches as well so it might be possible to spot them from the wide open expanse of Stoneman Meadow.

As for photographing the waterfall, I found that it wasn't terribly interesting by itself. However, when it's composed with other subjects (such as North Dome), then it becomes a bit more interesting.

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Royal Arch Cascade (left) with Royal Arches, Washington Column, and North DomeRoyal Arch Cascade (left) with Royal Arches, Washington Column, and North Dome
A not-so-obvious place to see the Royal Arch Cascade is Glacier Point, but I'd bet that you're more likely to be so caught up with the view in general that the cascade is a mere footnoteA not-so-obvious place to see the Royal Arch Cascade is Glacier Point, but I'd bet that you're more likely to be so caught up with the view in general that the cascade is a mere footnote
Focused on Royal Arch Cascade from Stoneman MeadowFocused on the cascade from Stoneman Meadow

Royal Arch Cascade fronting North DomeThe cascade fronting North Dome

Recent photo of Royal Arch CascadesMore recent (June 2011) photo from the same place as above

Recent photo of Royal Arch Cascades and North DomeMore recent (June 2011) photo of the one at the top of this page

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Bottom up sweep and context of the falls from Stoneman Meadow

Bottom up sweep of the Royal Arch Cascade and North Dome

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There are a couple of ways to get decent views of this waterfall. The first is from the Stoneman Meadow in front of Curry Village (signpost V23). From this vantage point, you can see not only the streaky cascade, but you can also see the rock formations like the Royal Arch Cascade, the Washington Column, and North Dome all in one shot.

Alternatively, you can get a closer and more angular view of the waterfall as you drive north across the Stoneman Bridge near the LeConte Memorial and towards Yosemite Village. There's a pullout in front of another grassy area (no signpost) where you can stop the car and get the view you see at the top of this page.

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

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Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map

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

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What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Never go there in October! 
i was gone in yosemite, just for waterfalls..... No water!!!!! poor me, i dreamed a lot to admire them, but no water! never go there in october!!

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