Types of Waterfalls

Learn about the different types of waterfalls before you see them.

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Types of Waterfalls in Yellowstone

There are three types of waterfalls: plunge, horsetail, and cascade. The type of fall depends on how the water drops and how much contact it has with the rocks below/behind the water.


Water-free falls for some or all of its height without touching underlying rock or is nearly vertical in descent.

Lower Falls is a plunge type of waterfalls
Gibbons Falls a horsetail falls


Water descends rapidly down a near-vertical wall while maintaining some contact with the underlying rock.


Water flows over a series of rocks or down a broad rock face with many leaps or segments.

Lewis Falls an example of a cascade type of waterfalls

Navigate to: Introduction to Falls or Waterfalls Map

All definitions come from the Rubinstein, Whittesey, and Stevens book listed below.

Search the Internet, and you may find a reasonably priced copy of the above book to help you explore Yellowstone's waterfalls.

Rubinstein, P. W., Whittlesey, L. H., and Stevens, Mike. The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery. (2nd Ed.). Pages 27-28. Eaglewood, CO, 2000: Westcliffe Publishers.

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