December 26, 2012

Exploring Yellowstone: The Waterfalls

Yellowstone National Park

With so many sites to see, it’s impossible to fit everything into a week. We ended up missing out on a lot of the waterfalls in Yellowstone, including some of the pretty grand ones, in order to see more geothermal areas of the park; things we just don’t see in Michigan. It was a difficult decision but when we go back, and we will go back, I plan on picking up where we left off on the hunt for waterfalls.

Waterfalls We Saw

Undine Falls

Undine Falls

Located four miles east of Mammoth, this waterfall is easily accessed and right near the road. The upper falls is 60 feet tall and the lower falls is 38 feet.

Tower Fall

Tower Falls

Located 17 miles north of Canyon, this 132 foot tall waterfall is quite  sight. It’s easily accessible from a top view but to get the whole picture, it’s a steep 1/2 a mile hike to the bottom. In the winter, we were told that this fall freezes into an impressive ice column.

Lower Yellowstone Falls

Waterfall

Located just easy of Canyon Village, the Lower Yellowstone Falls is said to be the second most photographed object in the park (the first being Old Faithful). There is a one-way loop that goes to the brink of the Grand Canyon with the last trail stop leading to the top of the falls. It is a 308 foot waterfall and well work the 3/4 mile (round-trip) steep hike.

Firehole Canyon Falls

Firehole Canyon

Located a half mile south of Madison Junction, this 40 foot roadside waterfall is easy to access and is beautiful

Gibbon Falls

gibbon

This 84 foot waterfall can be found midway between Noriss Geyser Basin and Madison Junction. It is a roadside waterfall and very easily accessible

Mystic Falls

Mystic Falls

Located behind Biscuit Basin, near the old faithful area, this 70 foot waterfall has two options to access it. There is a half mile hike from the trail-head that then forks. The left fork goes directly to the falls and is about one mile, one way. Very easy. The right fork and more adventurous and completely worth it, is nearly two miles, most of which is uphill. We were rewarded with spectacular views from high above as well as an above view of the falls.

Lewis Falls

Lewis Falls

Eleven miles from the South entrance and two miles south of Lewis Lake is this roadside waterfall. It’s a small one at just 30 feet but is pretty. There are parking lots on each side of the bridge so the road doesn’t get plugged up by viewers.

Waterfalls We Missed

Kepler Cascades

Located 2 miles south of Old Faithful Village, this 50 foot waterfall is view-able from a roadside Pullout. It’s located on the Firehole River so I’m not certain how we missed it but sadly we did.

Osprey Falls

Located behind Bunsen Peak, five miles south of Mammoth. Beginning at Bunsen Peak roadbed near the Bunsen Peak trail, follow the road for 2.5 miles. Osprey Falls trail-head is marked and is on the east side of the road. It is an eight mile, round-trip, and rated as difficult. But the waterfall, located in Sheepeater Canyon, is 150 feet and seems to be pretty impressive in photographs I’ve seen.

Fairy Falls

We wanted to see this one but ran out of time. It is 197 feet tall, making it one of the tallest waterfalls in Yellowstone. There are two options for access. Option 1 is one mile south of Midway Geyser Basin. There is a steel bridge that goes across the Firehole river and leads to Fountain Freight Road hiking/hiking trail. Follow the trail for 1 mile. This will take you to the only trail to Fairy Falls, which branches off on the left side. This is a five mile trip.

Option 2 is a half mile south of Nez Perce picnic area on the Fountain Freight Road. Follow the hiking/biking path from the northern end. It is roughly 1 3/4 miles to the junction with Fairy Falls Trail. This is a 7 mile trip.

Union Falls

The second tallest waterfall in Yellowstone at 250 feet, waterfall can be found on a 15.6 mile, round-trip, hike just outside of the southern boundary of Yellowstone, near Flagg Ranch.

Upper Fall of Yellowstone

Easily accessed, the Upper Fall of Yellowstone is located just south of Canyon Village. Drive across the Chittenden Bridge to Uncle Tom’s parking area to reach the trail head. Although not as impressive as the lower fall, the Upper Fall still reaches 109 feet.

If you’re interested in a complete listing of the waterfalls in Yellowstone, take a look at this Waterfalls of Yellowstone Wikipedia page.


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