Cave Falls

Yellowstone National Park / Bechler, Wyoming, USA

About Cave Falls


Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2017-08-14
Date last visited: 2017-08-14

Waterfall Latitude: 44.14358
Waterfall Longitude: -110.99732

Cave Falls was an impressively wide waterfall spanning 250ft across the Fall River well downstream from its confluence with the Bechler River.

Even though it was said to be only 20ft tall, there were more cascades and rapids both upstream and downstream of its main plunge.

Cave_Falls_083_08142017 - Cave Falls
Cave Falls

Had the falls dropped any higher, it very easily could have attracted more tourism infrastructure and tourist traffic than it currently does.

Cave Falls – the easiest waterfall to visit in Yellowstone’s “Cascade Corner”

In fact, of all the waterfalls we’ve managed to visit in the Bechler Region of Yellowstone National Park, this one was by far the easiest one to visit.

By the way, the Bechler Region was known as the “Cascade Corner” due to its high quantity of waterfalls.

The rest of the Bechler Backcountry waterfalls typically required very long day hikes or backpacking trips (or paid horseback tours).

Cave_Falls_062_08142017 - Looking across Cave Falls on the short walk to its overlook
Looking across Cave Falls on the short walk to its overlook

Indeed, we only needed to walk about 0.3 miles round trip to experience Cave Falls from its overlook as well as its base.

Heck, the falls was even visible from the lower pullout before we did any walking.

Perhaps it was a good thing that the excursion was short because a nasty thunderstorm that wound up dumping hail on us overtook our area just as we returned to the car.

Experiencing Cave Falls

Cave Falls got its name because there was an overhang adjacent to the left side of the falls that someone imagined was a cave.

Cave_Falls_030_08142017 - Looking towards Cave Falls over lots of rocks that might have been from the collapse of its namesake 'cave'
Looking towards Cave Falls over lots of rocks that might have been from the collapse of its namesake ‘cave’

During my visit in August 2017, apparently that cave had collapsed as there were park service signs discouraging travel beyond them due to the danger of more unstable rocks falling.

When I walked up to the overlook from a separate trail, that was where I was not only able to look across the breadth of Cave Falls from above, but I was also able to look further upstream at more cascades and rapids.

The trail actually kept going upstream eventually towards Bechler Falls and the Bechler River and beyond.

That said, I was content to experience the Cave Falls before returning to the car.

Cave_Falls_033_08142017 - A split in the Cave Falls Trail where the path on the right went to its base while the path on the left went to its brink
A split in the Cave Falls Trail where the path on the right went to its base while the path on the left went to its brink

Nevertheless, the signage at this part of Yellowstone National Park suggested that the nearby Bechler River Ranger Station was the trailhead for some backcountry hikes and backpacks leading to other impressive waterfalls of the Cascade Corner.

Among the notable waterfalls deep in the Bechler Backcountry were Dunanda Falls, Silver Scarf Falls, Ouzel Falls, Colonnade Falls, Iris Falls, and Union Falls among others.

The western side of the Cascade Corner had always been a dream backpack of mine, and time will only tell if I would ever get the chance to finally get to experience it.

Overall, we had spent about 30 minutes away from the car, but I spent most of that time taking lots of photographs and videos.

Cave_Falls_074_08142017 - Looking upstream from Cave Falls towards additional cascades and waterfalls on the Fall River
Looking upstream from Cave Falls towards additional cascades and waterfalls on the Fall River

Julie took her time looking for huckleberries along the short trail.

And prior to seeing the main part of the Cave Falls, there was also an interesting unnamed waterfall further downstream that was smaller and seemed to be a suitable spot for angling.

After all, I encountered a group of guys down there having a beer and catching fish.

They thought I was going to stop at that small waterfall thinking that it was the main one.

Cave_Falls_003_08142017 - Looking across an attractive cascade further downstream from Cave Falls
Looking across an attractive cascade further downstream from Cave Falls

So they went out of their way to tell me to keep driving or hiking further up the road to see the REAL big waterfall.

Drowning the Cascade Corner?

Finally, with the Bechler Region being as undeveloped as it was, there were numerous proposals to build a dam on the Bechler River or the Fall River.

That would inevitably hold up the water, drown the Cascade Corner, and divert this water to the potato farmers in Idaho.

Some proposals even went so far as to redraw the Yellowstone borders to remove the Bechler Region from its protection!

Cave_Falls_076_08142017 - Julie doing the short hike to check out Cave Falls
Julie doing the short hike to check out Cave Falls

Fortunately, advocates of Yellowstone were successful in defeating such measures.

So these days, the potato farmers would get their water from the Grassy Lake Reservoir as well as Jackson Lake.

Jackson Lake was notable because it was within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park (established in 1929) though it might have grandfathered in since the lake was expanded by a dam in 1911.

Authorities

Cave Falls resides in Yellowstone National Park near West Yellowstone in Park County, Wyoming. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit the National Park Service website.

Cave_Falls_008_08142017 - This was the view of Cave Falls near the pullout where we started our short walk to get closer to it
Cave_Falls_087_08142017 - Context of the short trail and Cave Falls itself
Cave_Falls_022_08142017 - Looking across the width of Cave Falls along the banks of the Fall River
Cave_Falls_024_08142017 - Checking out the collapsed cave that the Cave Falls was originally named after
Cave_Falls_027_08142017 - Park signage discouraged further exploration by the collapsed cave before Cave Falls probably due to unstable cliffs
Cave_Falls_032_08142017 - Context of the trail leading to the base of Cave Falls with the Fall River
Cave_Falls_035_08142017 - Following the trail on the left leading up to the Cave Falls Overlook
Cave_Falls_039_08142017 - Looking across Cave Falls on the way to its overlook at its brink
Cave_Falls_045_08142017 - Fencing near the top of the cliff right next to Cave Falls
Cave_Falls_046_08142017 - This was the overlook at the end of the short walk for Cave Falls
Cave_Falls_048_08142017 - Looking directly across the Cave Falls from the overlook
Cave_Falls_052_08142017 - Looking right over the brink of Cave Falls towards some dark clouds and the downstream scenery where those ominous looking clouds were about to drop their load on our August 2017 visit
Cave_Falls_054_08142017 - Looking upstream from the brink of Cave Falls towards more cascades on the Fall River
Cave_Falls_065_08142017 - Looking across the Fall River at the Cave Falls revealing more tiers and rapids further upstream
Cave_Falls_085_08142017 - Another contextual look at the Cave Falls just as the next thunderstorm cell was about to hit the area on our August 2017 visit
Cave_Falls_086_08142017 - Heading back to the trailhead or pullout for Cave Falls after having our fill in August 2017
Cave_Falls_087_08142017 - Last look back at the trail and the Cave Falls before it was time for us to leave Yellowstone for good on our August 2017 visit

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Cave Falls kind of sat in an isolated corner of Yellowstone National Park that was reached from Idaho in the west by car.

The most straightforward way for us to access the falls was by heading east of Ashton, Idaho.

We did this by following along the East 3400 North (E 3400 N) Road, which deviated from the Hwy 47 about 6 miles east of the Hwy 47 junction with the US Hwy 20.

Once on the E 3400 N Road headed east, the road would remain paved as it left town and entered the Targhee National Forest.

This road would eventually become the Cave Falls Rd, which promptly became unpaved and started off initially smooth.

But after about 10 miles from Ashton, the road became progressively more potholed and rutted.

Cave_Falls_005_08142017 - Parking by the trailhead signage and register for Cave Falls
Parking by the trailhead signage and register for Cave Falls

When the road crossed over the Idaho-Wyoming border, it started to enter Yellowstone National Park, and strangely, the road became paved again.

It would remain that way all the way to the junction with the spur road leading to the Bechler Ranger Station as well as towards the end of the road near the Cave Falls Picnic Area and Trailhead.

Overall, the drive east of Ashton to the Falls was about 25 miles (under an hour drive).

Note that the Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road (or the Reclamation Road or the Grassy Lake Road) left Ashton along the E 1200 N Road instead of E 1400 N Road.

Cave_Falls_004_08142017 - Initially, I had parked around an intermediate cascade before the kind folks chilling out here told me that Cave Falls was further upstream
Initially, I had parked around an intermediate cascade before the kind folks chilling out here told me that Cave Falls was further upstream

While that road was the shortest distance to get from Ashton to the South Entrance of Yellowstone National Park, it wasn’t the most common given how rough this road was said to be.

For some geographical context, Ashton, Idaho was about 47 miles (over 2 hours drive) west of Flagg Ranch via the unpaved Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road or Grassy Lake Road, 54 miles (under an hour drive) northeast of Idaho Falls, Idaho, 55 miles (under an hour drive) south of West Yellowstone, Montana, 72 miles (90 minutes drive) northwest of Jackson, Wyoming, 144 miles south of Bozeman, Montana, and 266 miles (under 4 hours drive) north of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Long video showing the falls from the pullout then walking all the way to the base of the falls near the collapsed cave


Checking out the falls from several different vantage points at the overlook near the brink

Tagged with: yellowstone, yellowstone national park, bechler, cascade corner, wyoming, waterfall, park county, ashton, idaho, fall river, falls river



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