Terraced Falls

Yellowstone National Park / Bechler, Wyoming, USA

About Terraced Falls


Hiking Distance: 4 miles round trip; river crossing and bushwhack for best view
Suggested Time: 2-3 hours

Date first visited: 2004-06-20
Date last visited: 2020-08-05

Waterfall Latitude: 44.14753
Waterfall Longitude: -110.86554

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Terraced Falls was an impressive series of cascades and waterfalls tumbling in succession on the Fall River with a cumulative height of about 150ft.

It was our introduction to waterfalling in the remote Bechler Backcountry region of southwestern Yellowstone National Park, which was also known as the “Cascade Corner”.

Terraced_Falls_003_iPhone_08052020 - The full context of Terraced Falls
The full context of Terraced Falls

After all, most of the waterfalls within the national park’s boundaries were concentrated here.

Certainly living up to its reputation as being full of waterfalls, our adventure to Terraced Falls took us by additional waterfalls and cascades on Cascade Creek (one of the tributaries feeding the Fall River).

It also went by the Cascade Acres, which was a wide set of rapids and cascades on the Fall River itself.

Some of the cascades on Cascade Creek were attractive on their own.

Bechler_020_06202004 - Looking towards what I believe to be the 'Cleft Cascades' on Cascade Creek during our first hike to Terraced Falls in June 2004. This was one of many waterfalls we saw on the way to (as well as on the way back from) Terraced Falls
Looking towards what I believe to be the ‘Cleft Cascades’ on Cascade Creek during our first hike to Terraced Falls in June 2004. This was one of many waterfalls we saw on the way to (as well as on the way back from) Terraced Falls

In fact, I could argue that they ought to have their own signage and tourism infrastructure if they weren’t merely incidental attractions on the Terraced Falls hike.

Indeed, this was the type of excursion that could easily induce waterfall saturation within the 4 miles of round trip hiking to take it all in.

Misleading Photos of Terraced Falls

One thing that we remembered most about our experiences at Terraced Falls was the wild nature of the Bechler Backcountry.

Therefore, we noticed lots of opportunities for dropoff hazards with off-trail discoveries, but we were also cognizant that we needed to be bear aware since we were in grizzly country.

Terraced_Falls_17_098_08132017 - The top of Terraced Falls as seen from the end of the official trail
The top of Terraced Falls as seen from the end of the official trail

The dropoff hazards were especially apparent at the end of the official trail where I managed to lose an old Sony wide angle lens over the cliff above the brink of Terraced Falls on our first visit here in June 2004.

We were actually lured here by a photo that was shown in the book The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery, which was very different from the photo shown immediately above.

When we compared their photo with what we managed to experience from the sanctioned trail, it was very clear that some additional unsanctioned scrambling and hiking was necessary to properly experience Terraced Falls.

Unfortunately, that photo from the book was taken from the opposite side of the Fall River.

Terraced_Falls_035_08052020 - This was the view of Terraced Falls from the same outcrop where the photo was taken in the Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery book
This was the view of Terraced Falls from the same outcrop where the photo was taken in the Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery book

This required a potentially dangerous river crossing upstream from the brink of the first cascade of Terraced Falls as well as a rough bushwhack on the other side.

In my first two attempts at visiting this waterfall, the situations weren’t right to make the traverse and scramble to get that sought after overlook.

However, on my third attempt, I finally managed to reach the view that was shown in the Yellowstone Waterfalls book, which I’ll describe how I managed to do it further below on this page.

Terraced Falls Trail Description – hiking the Cascade Creek Trail

The hike to Terraced Falls began from the Cascade Creek Trailhead (see directions below).

Terraced_Falls_17_011_08132017 - Re-entering the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park after descending from the Cascade Creek Trailhead
Re-entering the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park after descending from the Cascade Creek Trailhead

The trail began behind a sign towards the left side of the dirt pullouts (facing away from the Grassy Lake / Reclamation Road).

From there, the trail descended as it passed by signs indicating entry through the southern boundary of Yellowstone National Park at about a quarter-mile down.

The path continued descending as it eventually reached a junction just as it started to follow along Cascade Creek at about 0.4 miles from the trailhead.

The trail branching to the right, which crossed Cascade Creek, was called the South Boundary Trail.

Terraced_Falls_17_013_08132017 - Looking down towards a logjam on Cascade Creek near the South Boundary Trail Junction
Looking down towards a logjam on Cascade Creek near the South Boundary Trail Junction

It would ultimately join up with the Mountain Ash Creek Trail (which ultimately merged with one of the routes leading to Union Falls).

The trail on the left continued towards Terraced Falls.

As we continued to descend alongside Cascade Creek, it didn’t take long before we started to encounter waterfalls within Cascade Creek itself.

Terraced Falls Trail Description – the Cascades Along Cascade Creek

The first waterfall we encountered was at its brink at about a quarter-mile beyond the South Boundary Trail junction.

Terraced_Falls_17_145_08132017 - Looking upstream at what I believe were the so-called 'Pothole Cascades', which was one of the waterfalls on Cascade Creek
Looking upstream at what I believe were the so-called ‘Pothole Cascades’, which was one of the waterfalls on Cascade Creek

From the main trail, this was the only view we were afforded.

However, there were informal scrambling use trails that led away from the main trail further downstream.

It eventually led me to the side and front of the falls roughly 160ft off of the main trail.

At 40ft tall, this waterfall was informally called the “Pothole Cascades” by a park employee named Mike Yochim.

Bechler_026_06202004 - Looking towards what I believe were the 'Diamond Cascade' as seen during our first hike to Terraced Falls back in June 2004
Looking towards what I believe were the ‘Diamond Cascade’ as seen during our first hike to Terraced Falls back in June 2004

He noted pothole formations in the bedrock of the stream during his visit around 1998 when he made the suggestion of this name.

Continuing down the main Terraced Falls Trail, it didn’t take long before we started to notice another cascade on Cascade Creek.

This was about 0.3 miles from “Pothole Cascades” or roughly a half-mile downstream of the South Boundary Trail Junction.

This one was easily visible from the main trail so Julie and I both noticed it on our first visit in June 2004, and I saw it again on my second visit in August 2017.

Terraced_Falls_17_033_08132017 - Looking down towards the so-called 'Diamond Cascade' on Cascade Creek on a much later visit to Terraced Falls, which took place in August 2017
Looking down towards the so-called ‘Diamond Cascade’ on Cascade Creek on a much later visit to Terraced Falls, which took place in August 2017

According to the Yellowstone Waterfalls book referenced above, it was named by Paul Rubinstein (one of the authors) as the “Diamond Cascade” given its confluence of four mini-tiers with a cumulative 15ft drop or so.

The next cascade on Cascade Creek was another 400ft or so further downstream.

This one was also visible from the main trail and we managed to only be able to view it from a distance.

It appeared that the creek fell over a rounded rock layer, and the authors of the Yellowstone Waterfalls book named it the “Humpback Cascade”, which seemed to be an appropriate given its shape.

Terraced_Falls_17_042_08132017 - Looking towards the so-called 'Humpback Cascade', which was another one of the many waterfalls on Cascade Creek
Looking towards the so-called ‘Humpback Cascade’, which was another one of the many waterfalls on Cascade Creek

About another 150ft or so downstream of the “Humpback Cascade” was a pair of cascades falling in twisting succession.

At first, I was only able to look down unsatisfactorily near the brink of the upper drop of these cascades.

However, further down the trail another 350ft or so was an improved view as well as an informal scrambling path to further improve that view.

They went towards the front of the lower drop of the pair of cascades as well as a teasing hint of the upper drop, which was obstructed by trees.

Terraced_Falls_17_057_08132017 - This pair of cascades flanked by imposing rocks was informally called the 'Cleft Cascades'
This pair of cascades flanked by imposing rocks was informally called the ‘Cleft Cascades’

It turned out that Julie and I also saw these falls in a much fuller and less obstructed state in our June 2004 visit so it was fairly easy to see.

These pair of waterfalls were known as the “Cleft Cascades”.

When I looked downstream from the view of this falls, I was also able to see where Cascade Creek joined the Fall River though I had to pay real close attention to it.

Otherwise, there was no signage or other indication that the trail was now about to follow downstream along the Fall River starting just 200ft further on.

Terraced Falls Trail Description – following the Fall River to the end of the Official Trail

Terraced_Falls_17_070_08132017 - Looking down at what appeared to be part of the Cascade Acres on the Fall River
Looking down at what appeared to be part of the Cascade Acres on the Fall River

In the next quarter-mile or so, the trail continued skirting along the Fall River though it climbed somewhat so it would require a steep scramble to access the Fall River from there.

The next water feature was where the Fall River was flowing loudly as whitewater became more prevalent.

It turned out that these whitewater rapids and sloping waterslides comprised the so-called Cascade Acres, which was difficult to see cleanly due to the rugged terrain and trees in the way.

However, I was definitely able to hear it breaking the otherwise tranquil silence of this part of the Yellowstone backcountry.

Terraced_Falls_17_126_08132017 - Looking back at where the Terraced Falls Trail was nearly at the same level as the Fall River on my August 2017 visit. I determined back then that this would be a potential spot to cross the river, but it wouldn't be until three years later when I'd finally get to test my hunch
Looking back at where the Terraced Falls Trail was nearly at the same level as the Fall River on my August 2017 visit. I determined back then that this would be a potential spot to cross the river, but it wouldn’t be until three years later when I’d finally get to test my hunch

In another 0.3 miles from Cascade Acres or roughly a half-mile downstream of the “Cleft Cascades” was where the trail was almost level with the Fall River.

I suspected that this was where the potential crossing of the Fall River to access the other side was at.

There were a couple of faint trails of use here, corroborating my suspicion.

However, given the high rate of flow on both occasions I’ve done this hike (as well as the threat of flash flooding from neighboring thunderstorms during my second visit in August 2017), I couldn’t make that attempt.

Terraced_Falls_17_109_08132017 - Looking upstream towards a couple of upper drops of the Terraced Falls before the Fall River went over the main series of drops
Looking upstream towards a couple of upper drops of the Terraced Falls before the Fall River went over the main series of drops

Finally at around 0.4 miles from Cascade Acres or nearly 3/4-mile from the “Cleft Cascades” was the start of the waterfall series comprising Terraced Falls.

The first of the waterfalls couldn’t be cleanly be seen due to the presence of trees getting in the way as well as the steep drop offs by the trail going right into the Fall River.

Just another 500ft further was the precarious rocky outcrop perched right at the brink of the main series of drops of Terraced Falls.

This was the spot where I had lost my Sony lens back in June 2004.

Terraced_Falls_17_093_08132017 - This was the rock outcrop right at the brink of Terraced Falls. While this photo didn't convey it, there wasn't much margin for error when it came to that delicate balance between seeing as much of the waterfall as possible and not falling off the cliff!
This was the rock outcrop right at the brink of Terraced Falls. While this photo didn’t convey it, there wasn’t much margin for error when it came to that delicate balance between seeing as much of the waterfall as possible and not falling off the cliff!

So I made sure that my camera was properly secured on my second visit, and that I was as surefooted as I could be for a fall here would most certainly be fatal.

From that rocky outcrop, I was not only able to witness the power of the Fall River dropping below me, but I was also able to look at the expanse of the backcountry further downstream.

This was pretty much the turnaround point of this hike, which was about 2 miles in each direction from the trailhead (or 4 miles round trip).

It took me about 2.5 hours away from the car on my second visit when I did this solo.

Bechler_039_06252004 - Sign discouraging further travel beyond the brink of Terraced Falls in late June 2004. These signs weren't there when I came back in August 2017
Sign discouraging further travel beyond the brink of Terraced Falls in late June 2004. These signs weren’t there when I came back in August 2017

It probably took Julie and I a similar amount of time on our first visit back in June 2004.

The catch, however, was that it was a mostly uphill hike on the return so it was pretty much an upside-down hike.

Terraced Falls Trail Description – the dangerous gully

The trail actually continued a short distance further from the rocky outcrop above Terraced Falls.

There used to be signage here saying that the trail was closed back during my first time here in June 2004.

Bechler_043_06252004 - Looking down at the steep scramble down the dangerous gully to the base of Terraced Falls as seen back in June 2004
Looking down at the steep scramble down the dangerous gully to the base of Terraced Falls as seen back in June 2004

But regardless of whether that sign was there or not, there was still a dangerously steep gully that the trail disappeared into.

While in my younger days, I perhaps foolishly took a chance and went down this very steep gully to the banks of the Fall River.

It turned out that I would have to wade out into the Fall River anyways to get a more frontal view of it from its base (as shown in the Charles Maynard book about Yellowstone Waterfalls).

Given how steep the descent was, it was definitely a big concern of mine whether it was possible to climb back up.

Bechler_044_06252004 - Even down at the base of the dangerous gully scramble beneath Terraced Falls, I still had to wade out into the Fall River to even see the front of the waterfall, which I wasn't willing to do back in late June 2004
Even down at the base of the dangerous gully scramble beneath Terraced Falls, I still had to wade out into the Fall River to even see the front of the waterfall, which I wasn’t willing to do back in late June 2004

And wet shoes wouldn’t have helped my cause had I tried to risk it for that better photo.

Nevertheless for the real adventurous risk taker, had I persisted further downstream, the scramble would have eventually led to the 55ft Rainbow Falls.

Terraced Falls Trail Description – accessing the best view of Terraced Falls

There was no trail or obvious path to cross the Fall River and reach the overlook yielding the photo you see at the very top of this page.

It was only when I got near the brink of Terraced Falls did I start to notice faint use trails thanks to the less dense vegetation there.

Terraced_Falls_17_128_08132017 - Looking across the Fall River around where I suspect would be the 'best' place to cross it for that desired view of Terraced Falls, but notice how dark the river was so it was hard to tell its depth and speed
Looking across the Fall River around where I suspect would be the ‘best’ place to cross it for that desired view of Terraced Falls, but notice how dark the river was so it was hard to tell its depth and speed

However, prior to that, I was on my own to figure out how best to get there while minimizing risk to life and limb.

First, I hiked down the main Terraced Falls Trail until the trail was reasonably close to the level of the Fall River where I wouldn’t have to scale any dropoffs to access the river.

This was about 1.8 miles from the Cascade Creek Trailhead, 1.3 miles beyond the South Boundary Trail junction, or 0.3 miles beyond the Cascade Acres (assuming you can identify it since it’s not signed).

From there, I scrambled off-trail among the low-lying bush to reach the Fall River, which definitely looked intimidating.

Terraced_Falls_023_08052020 - After crossing the Fall River and bushwhacking through the thick bush, I then got to where the visibility was better, but I still had to find my way to Terraced Falls without the benefit of following a trail
After crossing the Fall River and bushwhacking through the thick bush, I then got to where the visibility was better, but I still had to find my way to Terraced Falls without the benefit of following a trail

At this point, I then took the time to leave the day pack and electronics so I could test the crossing’s depth and speed.

That way if I managed to slip and fall, hopefully the worst that would happen would be some wet clothes, but at least nothing that I didn’t want to get wet would be affected.

When I made my visit in early August 2020, the Fall River depth was up to my thighs, but the current was very strong so I definitely needed a pair of sturdy sticks for better balance.

Obviously, wearing Keens instead of hiking boots was also a good idea given the river’s depth and slippery, uneven footing.

Terraced_Falls_103_08052020 - This was the upper tier of the main series of drops of Terraced Falls. By the time I made it to this view, I started to notice trails of use likely 'blazed' by people who have been here before
This was the upper tier of the main series of drops of Terraced Falls. By the time I made it to this view, I started to notice trails of use likely ‘blazed’ by people who have been here before

Once I made it to the opposite side of the river, I then had to bushwhack through a thick grove of bush before I could make an off-trail scramble with better visibility when the vegetation opened up.

The initial bushwhack and scramble lasted for roughly 500-600ft, which involved traversing a swampy side stream as well as going over and between fallen trees and dry branches.

And I had to do this while swatting at annoying mosquitoes and deer flies (they look like normal flies but have an annoying noticeable bite).

Eventually, I reached an attractive upper drop of Terraced Falls, which was further upstream from the main series of drops.

Terraced_Falls_030_08052020 - Looking downstream at the Fall River as I followed the use-trails towards one of the pillars you see on the right side of this picture, which was where I finally got a nice clean look at Terraced Falls
Looking downstream at the Fall River as I followed the use-trails towards one of the pillars you see on the right side of this picture, which was where I finally got a nice clean look at Terraced Falls

From here, I then started to pick up faint use-trails (from people that have been here before) that I was able to follow further downstream for another 1/4-mile.

Ultimately, I the use-trail led me to a precarious outcrop with a fully frontal and contextual view of the entirety of Terraced Falls’ main section.

After having my fill of this regal view, I then returned the way I came to get back to the Terraced Falls Trail, which took me a little over an hour (though I’m sure it can be done faster once you know this area better).

As far as the overall stats from this adventure, my GPS logs said that I went 4.4 miles round trip while my trip notes said I spent 3 hours away from the car (including a pretty solid 15-30 minutes taking pictures).

Terraced_Falls_095_08052020 - Looking towards some finger-like pillars or spires hinting at the rather unusual geologic events that gave rise to the cliffs responsible for Terraced Falls
Looking towards some finger-like pillars or spires hinting at the rather unusual geologic events that gave rise to the cliffs responsible for Terraced Falls

It should be noted that this distance did not include the last 1/4-mile to the official end of the trail at the brink of Terraced Falls.

Authorities

Terraced 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.

Terraced_Falls_002_08052020 - Looking back at the Cascade Creek Trailhead at the start of my hike to Terraced Falls in early August 2020. Even though Yellowstone was crowded and the Flagg-Ranch/Reclamation Road was busy with campers, I was still all alone for most of this hike. By the way, this photo and the next several ones were taken on this day
Terraced_Falls_006_08052020 - During the hike along the Cascade Creek Trail, I couldn't help but notice these interesting bright red thing on the leaves. They seemed to be some kind of snail or weirdly-shaped berry, but I couldn't tell
Terraced_Falls_007_08052020 - Back at the familiar signed crossing into Yellowstone National Park's Bechler Region from the Targhee National Forest
Terraced_Falls_009_08052020 - Continuing the descent along Cascade Creek on this rather warm day in August 2020, where I was determined to finally see Terraced Falls from the other side
Terraced_Falls_019_08052020 - Continuing to make quick progress towards the Fall River crossing as the Cascade Creek Trail continued to follow Cascade Creek to the Fall River
Terraced_Falls_021_08052020 - Looking across the intimidating-looking crossing of the Fall River where I had to test out the crossing first before I committed to it with my gear that I didn't want to get wet
Terraced_Falls_022_08052020 - Once I got across the Fall River, I didn't expect that the bushwhack on the other side of it was as challenging as it was. Indeed, I risked ticks, deer flies, mosquitoes, and even rubbing against poison oak (not to mention any possible bear encounters) during this scramble
Terraced_Falls_107_08052020 - Eventually, I managed to scramble and bushwhack my way to this view of the attractive uppermost tier of Terraced Falls. From here on out, I noticed use-trails that I could follow that ultimately brought me to the best view of Terraced Falls
Terraced_Falls_025_08052020 - Another look at the uppermost tier of Terraced Falls
Terraced_Falls_026_08052020 - Following some faint use-trails as I continued further downstream along the Fall River in pursuit of the best view of Terraced Falls
Terraced_Falls_031_08052020 - Partial view across the main drop of Terraced Falls.  So I still had more to go before reaching the best view of the waterfall
Terraced_Falls_036_08052020 - Finally reaching the best view of Teraced Falls. Notice that the pillar just to the right of the main drop was the best view you could get of the falls from the end of the official trail
Terraced_Falls_091_08052020 - Looking further downstream at the Fall River from the best spot to view Terraced Falls
Terraced_Falls_069_08052020 - Looking along the finger-like cliffs that squeezed the Fall River over Terraced Falls
Terraced_Falls_074_08052020 - Another look along the full height of the finger-like cliffs right by the Fall River at Terraced Falls
Terraced_Falls_077_08052020 - Focused look at just the main drop of Terraced Falls. The pillar you see on the right side of this photo was the best (albeit partial) view you can get of the falls from the end of the official trail
Terraced_Falls_046_08052020 - Broad look at the entirety of Terraced Falls
Terraced_Falls_004_iPhone_08052020 - Interestingly, if you compare this photo (which was taken by an iPhone) versus the previous photo (which was taken by a Sony alpha7 mirrorless camera), you may notice that the postprocessing-on-the-fly that the iPhone does a better job at equalizing the brightness with the shadows. If you want to do the same thing with professional cameras, you'd have to shoot in RAW and then do postprocessing in Lightroom or Photoshop
Terraced_Falls_105_08052020 - While scrambling back from the best view of Terraced Falls, I noticed this chick seemingly looking for a way to return to its nest
Terraced_Falls_111_08052020 - When I finally made it back to the official trail, I then took some time to see if there were other ways to experience the familiar intermediate waterfalls like the Cascade Acres
Terraced_Falls_114_08052020 - This might be the cleanest view I was able to get of the Cascade Acres during my August 2020 visit
Terraced_Falls_119_08052020 - Looking towards a pair of attractive waterfalls on Cascade Creek during my August 2020 visit
Terraced_Falls_121_08052020 - During my August 2020 visit, I couldn't help but notice that this view towards one of the familiar cascades on Cascade Creek was altered because a large boulder fell on it
Terraced_Falls_123_08052020 - Looking towards what I think might be the 'Humpback Cascade' as seen during my August 2020 visit
Terraced_Falls_125_08052020 - Context of Cascade Creek and the Cascade Creek Trail as I was making my way back up to the trailhead
Terraced_Falls_128_08052020 - Looking towards another one of the familiar cascades on Cascade Creek while making the uphill climb back to the Cascade Creek Trailhead in August 2020
Terraced_Falls_131_08052020 - Still following Cascade Creek as I was making my way back to the Cascade Creek Trailhead to end this August 2020 visit
Terraced_Falls_134_08052020 - The final uphill to the Cascade Creek Trailhead to end this successful visit of Terraced Falls in August 2020
Terraced_Falls_136_08052020 - Finally making it back to the Cascade Creek Trailhead, where I noticed that I wasn't alone anymore here at the end of my August 2020 visit
Terraced_Falls_17_006_08132017 - The beginning of the Cascade Creek Trail as it descended towards Cascade Creek and ultimately to Terraced Falls. This photo and the next several shots in this gallery were taken from my visit in August 2017
Terraced_Falls_17_009_08132017 - The Terraced Falls Trail promptly descended into the forest from the trailhead and would continue to do so all the way to Terraced Falls
Terraced_Falls_17_016_08132017 - The South Boundary Trail crossed Cascade Creek here and eventually would join up with the Mountain Ash Creek Trail towards Union Falls. I didn't cross this creek though since my target was Terraced Falls on my August 2017 visit
Terraced_Falls_17_021_08132017 - The Terraced Falls Trail continued descending alongside Cascade Creek
Terraced_Falls_17_038_08132017 - Although it wasn't the first cascade I noticed along Cascade Creek, this was the first one I got to see cleanly from the Terraced Falls Trail during my August 2017 visit.  It was informally called the 'Diamond Cascade'
Terraced_Falls_17_047_08132017 - Looking downstream over the brink of the next cascade during my August 2017 hike to Terraced Falls, which was called the 'Cleft Cascades'
Terraced_Falls_17_054_08132017 - More zoomed in look at the 'Cleft Cascades' during my August 2017 hike to Terraced Falls
Terraced_Falls_17_055_08132017 - This was a more frontal and contextual look at the 'Cleft Cascades', which were the fourth and fifth cascades we noticed on Cascade Creek during my August 2017 hike
Terraced_Falls_17_062_08132017 - Shortly downstream of the 'Cleft Cascades' the Terraced Falls Trail started following the Fall River
Terraced_Falls_17_063_08132017 - This was one of the short cascades on the Fall River, which I believed to be part of the Cascade Acres
Terraced_Falls_17_066_08132017 - Further downstream from the Cascade Acres, the Terraced Falls Trail went into the forest as the trail climbed a bit while the Fall River continued its descent to the Terraced Falls
Terraced_Falls_17_073_08132017 - The narrowing Terraced Falls Trail then briefly climbed higher above the Fall River as it got closer to Terraced Falls during my August 2017 hike
Terraced_Falls_17_075_08132017 - Looking across at more of the cascaded sections of the Fall River upstream of the Terraced Falls as seen during my August 2017 hike. The whole time I was scouting out where it might be possible to cross the Fall River to get to the other side for that better view, but as you can see, it wasn't easy to figure that out
Terraced_Falls_17_081_08132017 - Looking across the first of the drops of Terraced Falls during my August 2017 hike
Terraced_Falls_17_085_08132017 - Portrait view of that first of the series of Terraced Falls on the Fall River as I continued my August 2017 hike further downstream
Terraced_Falls_17_087_08132017 - Looking down over the brink of Terraced Falls in August 2017
Terraced_Falls_17_089_08132017 - This was the Terraced Falls Trail when it was pretty much adjacent to the hard-to-see Terraced Falls itself on my August 2017 hike
Terraced_Falls_17_106_08132017 - This was as much of Terraced Falls as I could see from the precarious rock outcrop right at its brink in August 2017
Terraced_Falls_17_112_08132017 - Looking downstream from the main drops of the Terraced Falls into the depths of the canyon flanked by very interesting formations during my August 2017 hike
Terraced_Falls_17_118_08132017 - Looking down into the very dangerous and steep gully past the official end of the Terraced Falls Trail in August 2017
Terraced_Falls_17_120_08132017 - Contextual view looking across the Fall River downstream of the main part of the Terraced Falls as seen during my August 2017 visit
Terraced_Falls_17_121_08132017 - Another look towards the bottom of the Terraced Falls waterfall series as seen in August 2017
Terraced_Falls_17_122_08132017 - Despite the signs not being there during my recent visit in August 2017, this scramble down the gully was still steep and dangerous
Terraced_Falls_17_151_08132017 - Hiking back along Cascade Creek on the return hike from Terraced Falls in August 2017
Terraced_Falls_17_155_08132017 - Hiking up the Cascade Creek Trail as it was pretty much all uphill when I was coming back from Terraced Falls in August 2017
Terraced_Falls_17_156_08132017 - The final climb leading up to the Cascade Creek Trailhead to end my Terraced Falls adventure in August 2017
Terraced_Falls_17_158_08132017 - Making it back to the Cascade Creek Trailhead to end my August 2017 adventure to Terraced Falls
Bechler_001_06202004 - This was Julie sitting on that precarious outcrop above the Terraced Falls where I had lost my telephoto lens back in late June 2004. The rest of the photos in this gallery were taken from that trip
Bechler_002_06202004 - This was as much of Terraced Falls as I was able to photograph back on our first visit in June 2004
Bechler_007_06202004 - Blocked view of one of the upper cascades on Terraced Falls during our June 2004 visit
Bechler_013_06202004 - More zoomed in look at some of the upper cascades upstream from the main drop of Terraced Falls during our June 2004 hike
Bechler_016_06202004 - Back in June 2004, we managed to get this wider but still obstructed look back at that first drop of Terraced Falls
Bechler_022_06202004 - Back in June 2004, Julie and I witnessed the 'Cleft Cascades' in higher flow
Bechler_028_06202004 - Looking up at the 'Diamond Cascade' as seen in higher flow back in June 2004
Bechler_004_jx_06202004 - Another look at the 'Diamond Cascade' as seen in higher flow back in June 2004
Bechler_002_jx_06202004 - Partial view of Terraced Falls from back on our June 2004 visit. This was when I came back and was determined to see if there was a way to better see the Terraced Falls
Bechler_040_06252004 - Looking directly at the closure signs discouraging any further travel downstream of Terraced Falls, which led to a dangerously steep gully
Bechler_041_06252004 - Looking down past some of the deadfall in that dangerously steep gully to try to get below the Terraced Falls in June 2004

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Although Terraced Falls was within the Yellowstone National Park boundaries, the trail accessing it actually started just outside of it at the Cascade Creek Trailhead.

In order to get to this trailhead, we had to drive west on the unpaved Grassy Lake Road for nearly 14 miles (about an hour drive) west of Flagg Ranch.

Drive_to_Terraced_Falls_021_iPhone_08052020 - The Grassy Lake Reservoir and the road going past the dam en route to the Cascade Creek Trailhead
The Grassy Lake Reservoir and the road going past the dam en route to the Cascade Creek Trailhead

The road became unpaved just past the bridge over Polecat Creek, and the road had a few rough patches with potholes and some water-damaged ruts, but it was otherwise doable by passenger vehicles.

The Cascade Creek Trailhead was about 2 miles further west of the dam holding up the Grassy Lake Reservoir.

There was parking for a handful of cars by the trailhead, but there was also some spillover parking spots on the opposite side of the Grassy Lake / Reclamation Road.

For some context, Flagg Ranch was about 2.5 miles south of the South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, 55 miles (75 minutes drive) north of Jackson, and 72 miles (under 2 hours drive) southeast of West Yellowstone, Montana.

Terraced_Falls_17_001_08132017 - Looking across the Grassy Lake / Reclamation Road towards the Cascade Creek Trailhead
Looking across the Grassy Lake / Reclamation Road towards the Cascade Creek Trailhead

While Flagg Ranch was also a mere 48 miles (over 2 hours drive) east of Ashton, Idaho, it was on the Grassy Lake Road (also called the Reclamation Road).

This was said to be pretty rough the closer to the Idaho border you go.

I’ve never taken the Grassy Lake Road west of the Cascade Creek Trailhead before so I can’t say much more about the road conditions.

Terraced_Falls_17_003_08132017 - Looking back at the context of the bridge over Cascade Creek and the Grassy Lake / Reclamation Road with pullouts and parking spaces around the Cascade Creek Trailhead
Looking back at the context of the bridge over Cascade Creek and the Grassy Lake / Reclamation Road with pullouts and parking spaces around the Cascade Creek Trailhead

For additional geographical context, West Yellowstone, Montana was 58 miles (at least 90 minutes drive) south of Gardiner, Montana, 90 miles (over 90 minutes drive) south of Bozeman, Montana, 108 miles (under 2 hours drive) north of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and 321 miles (about 4.5 hours drive) north of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Upstream to downstream sweep from the best vantage point I found of the Terraced Falls before sweeping back downstream. This video was taken in August 2020, when I finally made it to this spot


Brief sweep of the main drops of Terraced Falls from the other side of the Fall River in August 2020


Back and forth sweep of the profile of Terraced Falls from the other side of the Fall River in August 2020


Upstream to downstream and back sweep of the upper drop of Terraced Falls from the other side in August 2020


Comprehensive video showing all the main drops of Terraced Falls during my August 2017 visit


Sweep showing the first major cascade on Cascade Creek featuring slides and potholes as seen during my August 2017 visit


Short sweep checking out the 2nd major cascade on Cascade Creek as seen in August 2017


Sweep from top to bottom while doing closeup of the cascade as seen in August 2017


Right to left sweep of lowermost cascade of Terraced Falls before finding an informal scrambling trail that was extremely steep leading to the bottom of the falls. This was filmed in August 2017

Tagged with: bechler, cascade corner, yellowstone, teton county, flagg ranch, reclamation, grassy lake, union falls, falls river, backcountry, wyoming, waterfall, jackson, rockies, rocky mountains



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Terraced Falls Hike September 9, 2009 5:40 am by Kristina - So I was looking around and found your site (really like it). Recently I went on a trip to Yellowstone with a friend and our main goal was to check out waterfalls. We saw many pull-over falls, Union Falls and Terraced Falls. The hike to Terraced Falls was pretty intense. We got about 1/2 way… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning 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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