Name of Waterfall

Royal Arch Cascade


Royal Arch Cascade is best seen from Ahwahnee Meadows within Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park. The base of the falls can also be approached easily on foot by following the trail from the Ahwahnee Hotel to Mirror Lake, which crosses below the falls about five minutes from the parking lot at the hotel.Royal Arch Cascade is a short lived waterfall on the north wall of Yosemite Valley. The falls drain from a basin of less than a square mile immedidately west of North Dome, funneling into one or several (depending on the time of year) threads of water which stream down the solid granite face immediately to the left of the huge exfoliated formation known as The Royal Arches. The basin which Royal Arch Creek drains is composed largely of solid granite bedrock with little to no soil to retain groundwater, so the falls flow well during the melt season and after occasional heavy rain storms, but once the annual snowpack has melted and precipitation stops, the falls will quickly shrivel and dry up leaving a dark streak down the cliff as a reminder of its location.Royal Arch Cascade gets its name from the adjacent Royal Arches, which were cristened such by a member of the Mariposa Battalion when they discovered Yosemite Valley. The Native American name of the falls was apparently Sho-ko-ya, which means "the basket fall", a reference to the fact that the falls drain from behind North Dome, which was originally known as Basket Dome or "To-ko-ya".

Other Names




IWC Rating (International Waterfall Classification)


Total Height (ft)


Tallest Drop


Number of Drops


Average Width


Maximum Width


Average High Volume (Cubic ft per second)

15 cfs

Average Low Volume (Cubic ft per second)

0 cfs


70 degrees

Run (ft)


Watershed or Feeder Stream

San Joaquin River Royal Arch Creek