Provo Canyon’s Bridal Veil Falls

February 21, 2020

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February 2020 Viewer's ChoicePhotographer: Ray Boren 
Summary Author: Ray Boren 

One of many waterfalls similarly named, from Niagara to Yosemite in North America, and all around the world, Utah’s eye-catching Bridal Veil Falls tumbles some 600 feet (183 m) in two principal cataracts down the primarily limestone cliffs and rubble slopes of Cascade Mountain in the Wasatch Range’s Provo Canyon, where the waters join the Provo River en route to Utah Lake. In winter the falls mostly freeze, along with nearby seeps, as illustrated in the first photograph here, taken on January 31, 2020. In spring and summer, the fall’s tresses streak the well-defined rock strata among green trees and bushes, shown in a second, wider image, taken on May 26, 2019.

The waterfalls, easily visible from U.S. Highway 189 and various viewpoints and trails, have given their name to the region’s Bridal Veil Falls Limestone, a many-layered basal unit of the Permo-Carboniferous Oquirrh Group, deposited in coastal seas during the early Pennsylvanian subperiod about 300 million years ago, and now conspicuous in the uplifted southern Wasatch Mountains near such cities as Orem and Provo, Utah. The limestone unit is 1,050 feet (320 m) thick, geologists report and features a prolific fauna that includes corals, brachiopods and other organisms.

When winter ice is particularly dense, frozen Bridal Veil Falls attracts ice climbers. However, the waterfall’s course is also avalanche prone in snowy winters, as are other segments of busy, steep-sided Provo Canyon. An aerial tram line began operating at the fall’s base in 1961, lifting passengers to a viewpoint and restaurant called the Eagle’s Nest atop a nearby pinnacle overlooking the canyon and the cascade. But a massive avalanche on New Year’s Day 1996 barreled down the falls’ chute, taking out buildings beside the Provo River, and a 2008 fire destroyed the high Eagle’s Nest.

Photo Details: Top - Camera: NIKON D3200; Exposure Time: 0.0040s (1/250); Aperture: ƒ/10.0; ISO equivalent: 400; Focal Length (35mm): 105. Bottom - same except: Camera: NIKON D3500; Aperture: ƒ/8.0; ISO equivalent: 110; Focal Length (35mm): 27.