Virginia Cascade

Yellowstone National Park / Madison, Wyoming, USA

About Virginia Cascade


Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

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

Waterfall Latitude: 44.71311
Waterfall Longitude: -110.64793

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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 each time that we’ve seen it.

Virginia_Cascade_17_014_08102017 - Virginia Cascade
Virginia Cascade

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.

Origins of the Virginia Cascade Drive

According to The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery, Virginia Cascade was named in 1886 after the wife of Charles Gibson (the founder of the Yellowstone Park Association).

Ed Lamartine came up with this name and applied it as he 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 above.

Virginia_Cascade_17_002_08102017 - context of the Virginia Cascade Drive and the Virginia Cascade itself
context of the Virginia Cascade Drive and the Virginia Cascade itself

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.

That was unfortunate because it 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).

Experiencing Virginia Cascade

Virginia_Cascade_17_007_08102017 - Context of the narrow Virginia Cascade Drive
Context of the narrow Virginia Cascade Drive

The way we got the pictures shown on this page 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.

On an August 2017 visit, the pullouts seemed to be more obvious than when we first came here in June 2004.

Nevertheless, I could easily see how such pullouts could be missed if you weren’t looking for them.

Virginia_Cascade_001_06212004 - This was how we saw the Virginia Cascade on our first visit in June 2004
This was how we saw the Virginia Cascade on our first visit in June 2004

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.

Authorities

Virginia Cascade 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.

Virginia_Cascade_17_023_08102017 - Just to give you a sense of why the road was one-way, here was a truck driving past. It was hard to believe that this road once supported bi-directional traffic in its past!
Virginia_Cascade_17_006_08102017 - Contextual look at the Virginia Cascade and the narrow Virginia Cascade Drive
Virginia_Cascade_17_010_08102017 - Angled but obstructed view of Virginia Cascade from near my turnaround spot as I explored around the Virginia Cascade Drive as I looked for a way to the bottom
Virginia_Cascade_17_018_08102017 - The familiar frontal view of the Virginia Cascade in the late afternoon of our August 2017 visit
Virginia_Cascade_001_jx_06212004 - More focused look at the Virginia Cascade from that June 2004 visit
Virginia_Cascade_004_06212004 - Zoomed in view of Virginia Cascade as we walked around looking to improve our views during our June 2004 visit
Virginia_Cascade_005_06212004 - Contextual view of Virginia Cascade as we walked around looking to improve our views back during our June 2004 visit. Somehow it didn't seem like we succeeded in doing that
Virginia_Cascade_007_06212004 - Another zoomed in obstructed look at the Virginia Cascade as seen during our June 2004 visit
Virginia_Cascade_001_jx_06212004 - This was as direct of a look at the Virginia Cascade that we were able to get during our June 2004 visit
Virginia_Cascade_002_jx_06212004 - Towards the end of the Virginia Cascades loop road, we saw this elk grazing right next to the one-way road during our June 2004 visit

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Virginia Cascade was on the one-way Virginia Cascade Drive.

We looked 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).

Virginia_Cascade_17_025_08102017 - Looking back at the pullout where we could stop the car and enjoy the Virginia Cascade without stressing about blocking traffic
Looking back at the pullout where we could stop the car and enjoy the Virginia Cascade without stressing about blocking traffic

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.

Checking out the falls from a distance from a few different spots along the Virginia Cascade Drive

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Tagged with: norris, canyon, yellowstone, grand loop, wyoming, waterfall, rockies, rocky mountains, gibbon river



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

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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