Weekly Gem #167 Two palisades are falling, one slow, one fast

Published 8/11/2018

Location: This weekly gem is located about two miles up the hill from Hyalite Reservoir, south of Bozeman, MT (see the Clue Me! Map). But there's a parking area just 1/2 mile away, and the path is paved, so most anyone can reach and enjoy the falls.

The waterfall is named "Palisade Falls," because it drops through rock formations that look like 'palisades.' These rocks are tall, and partially wrap the area at the base of the falls, trapping the cool air that emanates from the cold stream. When you arrive, you're greeted by a nice, cool breeze coming off the falls and along the stream.

The rock formations create this unique setting because they break off in long, vertical columns that provide for a lengthy and unimpeded drop for the falls. These columns were created because the rocks were part of a river in their youth ... a very thick river of lava. It was a massive flow, dozens to over a hundred feet deep, which for one reason or another stopped flowing and started cooling very quickly. As the lava cooled it shrunk, and when this happens it shrinks and breaks in a hexagonal pattern. If sliced horizontally and looked at from the top, the rocks would look like a honeycomb.

The little stream has worked for millions of years, carving and wedging, freezing and thawing, pushing basalt columns little by little until they fall. Proof of it's single-minded diligence is under your feet as you clamber up the rocky hill to feel the mist up close. While the chances are remote that one will fall during your visit, it may not hurt to glance up now and then, and have your exit strategy in mind in case you hear a sharp crack from above.


Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.


A falling palisade


Palisade Falls

Why It's Interesting

Palisade falls is a nice waterfall, but made even more entrancing by the unique geology it passes through.

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