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Palisade Falls - A Short Stop From Bozeman for Friends, Families and Photographers


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A storybook style waterfall sits hidden behind a short drive and a walk just around the corner from Bozeman. Whether or not you’ve been in the Bozeman area for a minute, or are just visiting, you’ve most likely heard of Hyalite Canyon and the reservoir, a popular spot known for some of the best paddle boarding around.

Hyalite Reservoir is indeed picturesque, with tall green trees and large mountains in the backdrop, so it is no surprise that a quick hike around the corner is often surpassed. The waterfall here though is so worth it.

A Towering Sight to See

Falling 80-feet and trickling down the fallen rocks into a beautifully mossy stream, the falls are immaculate. Or, shall we say, the fall, because there is only one long stream of water spouting from the top of a very tall cliff. Depending on the time of year, it will either be a large trickle, and icy layering of sheets, or a roaring spout.

The hike is perfect for all ages and types being only approximately 1.2 miles roundtrip through a cooled forest on a paved path. The trail is not only relatively easy, but it is also wheelchair accessible. They are able to be accessed year-round, though sturdy hiking boots, cross country skis, or snowshoes are necessary.

A Photographer’s or Geologist’s Dream

Many a traveler has made it to the bottom of the cliff to gather for a picnic or take breathtaking photos to be drooled over. What few people recognize though is the uniqueness of the rock formation that the water stream falls from.

Known as columnar jointing, the rock wall rising far above the peak of the actual river looks as if a forest of tall tree trucks were mummified and laid to rest forever leaning against the wall as a silent forest. The “columns” as they are mostly referred to, are formed from the cooling of lava inside ancient volcanoes and appear as connected joints. If you’ve ever been to the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, you’ll notice the similarities. The site is impressive for those who like to geek out about rock formations and is one of the best examples of columnar jointing in the state.

Book Early if You Plan to Camp

With easy hiking and a perfect backdrop, the site is a popular place to bring visiting friends and family to picnic and take photos. With the towering rock wall on one side and tall and healthy trees on the other, it is recommended to go around midday to catch the falls in their best lighting. The sun sets much sooner here and the place cools down pretty quickly.

For those looking to make a weekend of it, there are a multitude of camping options not far away. Be warned though, the falls may be a less popular spot for the locals to hang out overnight, but the area receives some higher traffic in the summer months. It is recommended to book a camping spot early to ensure you get what you need!

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