Royal Arch Cascade

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

About Royal Arch Cascade

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2003-05-10
Date last visited: 2011-06-03

Waterfall Latitude: 37.74981
Waterfall Longitude: -119.5709

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Royal Arch Cascade is a stringy waterfall tumbling between the Ahwahnee Hotel and the Royal Arches.

The Royal Arches formed from the calving of the granite wall on which it resides leaving behind arches (though they’re not natural arches).

Royal_Arch_Cascade_002_03212004 - Royal Arch Cascade and North Dome
Royal Arch Cascade and North Dome

Although we’ve only seen this waterfall during the annual spring snowmelt, I’ve read that it can expand and decorate the granite wall on which it tumbles during a heavy thunderstorm.

Such storms might occur during the Summer months when pop-up thunderstorms would become the norm.

We haven’t seen the cascade do the expansion due to a sudden downpour from a thunderstorm so we can only imagine how much of a spectacle it might become should it occur.

Instead, we only spotted this cascade in its narrow state, which you can see from the photos on this page.

Royal_Arch_Cascade_004_05102003 - Context of the Royal Arch Cascade with North Dome, the Royal Arches, and the Washington Column as seen from Stoneman Meadow
Context of the Royal Arch Cascade with North Dome, the Royal Arches, and the Washington Column as seen from Stoneman Meadow

Given its generally weak flow, I don’t think it can be reliably seen by June unless the snow pack is high.

When it’s dry or trickling, only streaks are left on the wall.

Until we started to consciously look for this waterfall, it was easy to miss it because it neighbored other granite formations (in addition to the Royal Arches) such as North Dome and the Washington Column.

I also heard that rock climbers like to ascend the Royal Arches as well so it might be possible to spot them from the wide open expanse of Stoneman Meadow.

Yosemite_Valley_071_06032011 - Focused on just the Royal Arch Cascade as seen in early June 2011
Focused on just the Royal Arch Cascade as seen in early June 2011

As for photographing the waterfall, I found that it wasn’t terribly interesting by itself.

However, when it’s composed with other subjects (such as North Dome), then it becomes a bit more interesting.


The Royal Arch Cascade resides in Yosemite National Park near Yosemite Village in Mariposa County, California. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Yosemite_Valley_090_06032011 - Contextual photo of Royal Arch Cascades and North Dome as seen in early June 2011
Royal_Arch_Cascade_004_03212004 - Royal Arch Cascade fronting North Dome as seen in March 2004
Royal_Arch_Cascade_001_05102003 - Clouds creating partial shadows on the Royal Arch Cascade as seen during our May 2003 visit
Royal_Arch_Cascade_002_05102003 - Focused on Royal Arch Cascade from Stoneman Meadow in May 2003
Royal_Arch_Cascade_005_05102003 - Focused look at the Royal Arch Cascade as seen from Stoneman Meadow in May 2003

There are a couple of ways to get decent views of the Royal Arch Cascade.

The first is from the Stoneman Meadow in front of Curry Village (signpost V23).

From this vantage point, you can see not only the streaky cascade, but you can also see the rock formations like the Royal Arch Cascade, the Washington Column, and North Dome all in one shot.

Alternatively, you can get a closer and more angular view of the waterfall as you drive north across the Stoneman Bridge near the LeConte Memorial and towards Yosemite Village.

There’s a pullout in front of another grassy area (no signpost) where you can stop the car and get the view you see at the top of this page.

For a little context, we’d drive to Yosemite Valley from Los Angeles via our preferred route.

This means taking the I-5 north towards the Grapevine (some 2 hours from home) where we’d then take the Hwy 99 through Central Valley towards Fresno.

Then, we hop onto the Hwy 41 at Fresno which leads us to the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park via Oakhurst.

Continuing on Hwy 41 (now Wawona Road), we then take this for the next 60-90 minutes (passing through Wawona) all the way into Yosemite Valley and eventually to Curry Village.

Overall, this drive would take roughly 6 hours or more depending on traffic.

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Bottom up sweep and context of the falls from Stoneman Meadow

Bottom up sweep of the Royal Arch Cascade and North Dome

Tagged with: curry, yosemite, mariposa, oakhurst, fresno, wawona, yosemite valley, sierra, california, waterfall, stoneman, ahwahnee, royal arch, washington column

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

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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