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: -110.45043

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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 be where Surface Creek would drain Ribbon Lake and drop some 1,200ft into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_039_08102017 - Silver Cord Cascade
Silver Cord Cascade

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.

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

Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_024_08102017 - Looking into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River during the Silver Cord Cascade hike. The Seven-Mile Hole Trail actually would access the base of this deep canyon well downstream of here
Looking into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River during the Silver Cord Cascade hike. The Seven-Mile Hole Trail actually would access the base of this deep canyon well downstream of here

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.

This included a brutal 1,400ft descent on loose and slippery terrain towards the end with an equally taxing climb on the return hike.

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

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

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 to do it.

Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_082_08102017 - My hike to the Silver Cord Cascade was a bit longer thanks to this road closure during my August 2017 visit
My hike to the Silver Cord Cascade was a bit longer thanks to this road closure during my August 2017 visit

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.

On top of that, I also had to walk to Canyon Village from the barricade on North Rim Drive since I was only dropped off at the road closure by Julie and had to meet up with them back at the village.

As a result, all that walking took me about 90 minutes.

Silver Cord Cascade Trail Description

Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_005_08102017 - The trail to the Silver Cord Cascade and the Seven-Mile Hole initially went past this small stream
The trail to the Silver Cord Cascade and the Seven-Mile Hole initially went past this small stream

From the Glacial Boulder Trailhead, the trail followed a seemingly well-used path amongst lodgepole pine trees.

The trail 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.

Such colors in the cliffs here seemed to suggest some kind of volcanic or geothermal activity in the area.

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

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

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.

Silver_Cord_Cascade_003_06212004 - This was what the Silver Cord Cascade looked like when I first saw it back in June 2004
This was what the Silver Cord Cascade looked like when I first saw it back in June 2004

Finally, each time I’ve been here, it was either at midday or early in the afternoon.

As you can see from the photo above, 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.

Authorities

Silver Cord Cascade resides in Yellowstone National Park near Gardiner 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.

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 just as I was about to start the actual hike to Silver Cord Cascade in August 2017
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_004_08102017 - The Silver Cord Cascade Trail meandered amongst these lodgepole pine trees for much of the hike
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_010_08102017 - One of the benefits of the Silver Cord Cascade hike was the ability to appreciate the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone's colors and textures as the trail skirted the canyon's north rim in a few spots
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_017_08102017 - This was one of the gentle climbs on the Silver Cord Cascade 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 in its August 2017 flow so I knew that I was near the viewpoint
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_025_08102017 - Context of where the Seven Mile Hole Trail skirted the canyon's north rim as seen during my August 2017 hike to Silver Cord Cascade
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_028_08102017 - The Seven-Mile Hole Trail continuing along a well-forested area on the way to Silver Cord Cascade view in August 2017
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_030_08102017 - It's hard to tell in this photo, but the Seven-Mile Hole 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 as of my August 2017 visit
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_035_08102017 - Context of the Silver Cord Cascade tumbling towards the Yellowstone River below as seen in August 2017
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_038_08102017 - Looking at the Silver Cord Cascade in a somewhat hazy view during my August 2017 visit
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_042_08102017 - Sideways look at the viewing area for Silver Cord Cascade 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 as seen in August 2017
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_062_08102017 - During the return hike on my August 2017 visit, 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 after having visited the Silver Cord Cascade in August 2017
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_071_08102017 - Another look back at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on the return hike from Silver Cord Cascade during my August 2017 visit
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_079_08102017 - These guys were one of the few people I saw the entire way during my Silver Cord Cascade hike in August 2017, but the lack of people could have been exacerbated by the closure of the Inspiration Point Road
Silver_Cord_Cascade_17_083_08102017 - Almost making it back to the Canyon Village after my Silver Cord Cascade hike in August 2017
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_009_06212004 - Contextual view of Silver Cord Cascade as seen during our June 2004 visit
Silver_Cord_Cascade_001_jx_06212004 - Another focused look at the Silver Cord Cascade in June 2004

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The Glacial Boulder Trailhead for the Silver Cord Cascade 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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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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