bridal veil fall

A steeply vertical waterfall of gently expanding or billowing length acquires the obvious metaphor of a bride’s veil. More specifically, a high cataract of low flow that entirely mists out before striking the pool below gives the impression of gauzy cloth. Such falls are favored in fault zones, where blocks of earth slip past one another to create cliffs; and where bedrock fractures and falls away from a resistant lip, as in the Columbia River Gorge basalts. Smaller streams of steep gradient with constraining, steep sides to the upstream flow are more likely to make bridal veil falls than larger, shallow-gradient, less constrained rivers, which tend toward broader waterfalls. Where streamcutting frees loose boulders instead, cascades form rather than high falls. Glacially stranded hanging valleys may also terminate in bridal veil falls, as in Yosemite National Park. Post-glacial, flood-ripped coulees or canyons may do so as well. The Columbia Plateau and Gorge of Washington and Oregon are therefore rich in such falls, including the eponymous Bridal Veil and Horsetail Falls and the much larger, double-trained Multnomah Falls.

Robert Michael Pyle