Virginia Cascade was an attractive cascade that tumbled noticeably on the Gibbon River in a densely forested canyon. It was said to have a drop of 60ft, and since it was on the Gibbon River, it had a pretty healthy flow both times we’ve seen it (once in June 2004 and another in August 2017). While this waterfall was a quick visit for us as it was essentially roadside, there seemed to be quite a bit of history with it. According to The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery, the waterfall was named in 1886 after the wife of Charles Gibson (the founder of the Yellowstone Park Association) by Ed Lamartine, who himself was the person in charge of building the first road in the area. This stagecoach road would ultimately become the Virginia Cascade Drive, which was the narrow one-way road that allowed us to experience the falls as you see pictured at the top of this page. The National Park Service produced a very informative video about this waterfall and the road itself, which I’m sharing here.
As you can see from the photos on this page, it wasn’t easy to get a clean look at the falls given the thickness of the foliage tending to obstruct the waterfall’s base. Also, unlike the early visitors who arrived by stagecoach, we also weren’t able to find a way to get to the bottom of the falls, which was said to be the best place to the Virginia Cascade (the Yellowstone Waterfalls book referenced above had a picture of the falls from such a spot). The way we got the picture above was along one of the rare unsigned pullouts on the one-way Virginia Cascade Road. Given that we had driven this road a few times, we went slow and knew to look for such pullouts (which seemed to be more obvious on our latest August 2017 visit than on our June 2004 visit), but I could easily see how such pullouts could be missed if you weren’t looking for them. Once we found a suitable pullout, then we got out of the car and walked towards better viewing spots along the road without the stress of worrying about blocking the narrow road. Finally, since this waterfall was west-facing, we found out the hard way that it was best seen in the afternoon when we wouldn’t be looking against the sun.
Look for the entrance to the one-way Virginia Cascades Drive, which left the Grand Loop Road on the right at about 1.7 miles east of the Norris Junction (or on the left at about 9.9 miles west of the Canyon Junction). The road exited and rejoined the Grand Loop Road about just under 2 miles east of the road’s entrance (or 3.6 miles east of Norris Junction and 8 miles west of Canyon Junction). Norris Junction is about 45 minutes drive (28 miles) east of West Yellowstone, Montana.
For geographical context, West Yellowstone was 58 miles (at least 90 minutes drive) south of Gardiner, Montana, 90 miles (over 90 minutes drive) south of Bozeman, Montana, 72 miles (under 2 hours drive) north of Flagg Ranch (near Yellowstone’s South Entrance), and 321 miles (about 4.5 hours drive) north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
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