Silver Cord Cascade

Yellowstone National Park / Canyon, Wyoming, USA

About Silver Cord Cascade

Hiking Distance: 2 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2004-06-21
Date last visited: 2017-08-10

Waterfall Latitude: 44.72596
Waterfall Longitude: -110.47747

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Silver Cord Cascade (I’ve also seen it spelled Silver Chord Cascade) was one of the seemingly lesser known waterfalls (at least compared to the waterfalls closer to the main roads further to the west).

This was peculiar since it could very well be Yellowstone National Park’s tallest waterfall as it was said to drop some 1,200ft (I’ve seen reports vary from as little as 1,000ft to as much as 1,300ft) where Surface Creek would drain Ribbon Lake before dropping into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

Perhaps a big reason why it didn’t get as much fanfare was because it required a hike on the relatively quiet Seven Mile Hole Trail in order to get the view you see pictured above.

Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_039_08102017 - Silver Cord Cascade
Silver Cord Cascade

Moreover, it was also thin and hard to experience it up close in a satisfying way like most of the park’s other waterfalls.

The benefit to this relative obscurity was that each time I’ve done this hike, it was peaceful as I was but one of a handful of people on the trail.

About the Seven-Mile Hole

The Seven Mile Hole Trail was more known to hikers looking to really experience the bottom of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, especially since it could very well be the only such access in the Canyon Village vicinity.

The “hole” was said to refer to a fishing spot on the river. The hike was also said to have surprising geothermal features as well as a fairly high chance at seeing wildlife.

I’ve never done the entirety of this hike as it was said to be about 10 miles round trip with a brutal 1,400ft descent on loose and slippery terrain towards the end with an equally taxing climb on the return hike.

Fortunately, in order to experience Silver Cord Cascade, I only had to hike a mile in each direction from the Glacial Boulder Trailhead.

Canyon_North_Rim_136_08102017 - This was the sizable Glacial Boulder that was believed to have been left behind by a glacier since its composition was nothing like the bedrock of the canyon area
This was the sizable Glacial Boulder that was believed to have been left behind by a glacier since its composition was nothing like the bedrock of the canyon area

The glacial boulder was referring to a house-sized granite-gneiss rock that was assumed to have been carried here by a glacier since its composition was nothing like the bedrock around the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

The hiking was pretty benign as it was mostly on somewhat level terrain with only a few minor undulations.

The first time I did this hike in June 2004, it took me a little over an hour round trip.

The second time I did this hike in August 2017, the Inspiration Point Road was closed to vehicles. So I had to walk the additional mile for a four-mile round trip hike (not including the walk to Canyon Village from the barricade on North Rim Drive). Overall, that took me about 90 minutes.

The Out-and-Back Hike to Silver Cord Cascade

From the Glacial Boulder Trailhead, the trail followed a seemingly well-used path amongst lodgepole pine trees as it made a brief descent towards a small stream before briefly climbing out towards the north rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

That was where I started to get partial views of the river down below as well as gaining a better appreciation for the yellows, oranges, and whites of the cliffs, which seemed to suggest some kind of volcanic or geothermal activity in the area.

The trail continued along the rim weaving in and out of edge of the lodgepole forest before there was a noticeable descent near the one-mile point of the hike.

Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_023_08102017 - Partial views of the Yellowstone River along the Seven-Mile Hole Trail en route to Silver Cord Cascade
Partial views of the Yellowstone River along the Seven-Mile Hole Trail en route to Silver Cord Cascade

This was where I spotted some unsigned use-trails leading towards the canyon rim, and that was where I eventually was able to peer right across the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River towards the Silver Cord Cascade.

With no fencing, I had to use my best judgment to not get too close to the cliff edges.

Finally, each time I’ve been here, it was either at midday or early in the afternoon, and as you can see, the sun was pretty much on top of the canyon.

Since it was a north-facing waterfall, it was hard to tell when would be the best time of day for photos if the sun was out.


Silver Cord Cascade resides in Yellowstone National Park. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit the National Park Service website.

Canyon_North_Rim_130_08102017 - The second time I did the Silver Cord Cascade hike, the Inspiration Point Road was closed so I actually had to walk that road to get to the Glacial Boulder Trailhead, which you can see here was still a work in progress
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_001_08102017 - Signs at the Glacial Boulder Trailhead
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_004_08102017 - The trail meandered amongst these lodgepole pine trees for much of the hike
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_005_08102017 - The trail briefly descended towards this stream before making a gentle climb towards the canyon rim
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_017_08102017 - This was one of the gentle climbs on the trail as it undulated along the canyon rim
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_021_08102017 - In one of the clearings, I managed to get this partial view of Silver Cord Cascade so I knew that I was near the viewpoint
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_023_08102017 - This was one of the spots where I was able to get a pretty open and clean look down at the Yellowstone River and the surrounding canyon
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_024_08102017 - Looking ahead in the downstream direction, where you can see the context of where Silver Cord Cascade was if you look carefully towards the topleft
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_025_08102017 - Context of where the Seven Mile Hole Trail skirted the canyon's north rim
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_030_08102017 - It's hard to tell in this photo, but the trail made a fairly noticeable descent near where the Silver Cord Cascade viewpoint was
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_032_08102017 - Approaching the unsigned lookout for the Silver Cord Cascade
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_035_08102017 - Context of the Silver Cord Cascade tumbling towards the Yellowstone River
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_042_08102017 - Sideways look at the viewing area to try to convey to you how sudden the dropoffs were so it was wise not to get too close to the edge
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_054_08102017 - Broad contextual look towards the Silver Cord Cascade from a different spot at the overlook
Silver_Cord_Cascade_001_06212004 - First look at Silver Cord Cascade during my June 2004 visit
Silver_Cord_Cascade_004_06212004 - Contextual and somewhat clean look at Silver Cord Cascade during my June 2004 visit
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_062_08102017 - During the return hike, I noticed this squirrel or chipmunk munching on a nut
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_065_08102017 - Hiking along the canyon's northern rim while headed back to the trailhead
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_079_08102017 - These guys were one of the few people I saw the entire way, but the lack of people could have been exacerbated by the closure of the Inspiration Point Road


The Glacial Boulder Trailhead was about 0.4 miles along on the Inspiration Point Drive. When the North Rim Drive was a one-way road going clockwise, the turnoff for Inspiration Point Road used to be on the left after a very short drive about a half-mile east of Canyon Lodge. However, since they re-directed the North Rim Drive to go counterclockwise from Canyon Village, this turnoff was on the right after driving about 1.6 miles (and contending with the congestion at the North Rim Drive itself).

The Canyon Junction was on the Grand Loop Road about 15.4 miles north of the Lake junction (through Hayden Valley), 11.5 miles east of the Norris Junction, or 18.3 miles south of the Roosevelt Junction (over Dunraven Pass).

To give you some context, Canyon Village was about 52 miles (about 90 minutes drive) southwest of Cooke City-Silver Gate, Montana, 94 miles (over 2 hours drive) west of Cody, 115 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) north of Jackson, 42 miles (under about 90 minutes drive) southeast of Gardiner, Montana, 40 miles (one hour drive) east of West Yellowstone, Montana, 128 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) southeast of Bozeman, Montana, 147 miles (under 3 hours drive) northeast of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and 360 miles (under 6 hours drive) north of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Checking out the falls from a few different vantage points along the informal lookout

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Tagged with: inspiration point, canyon, yellowstone, seven mile hole, glacial boulder, surface creek, wyoming, waterfall, rockies, rocky mountains

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