Lewis Falls

Yellowstone National Park / South Entrance / Teton County, Wyoming, USA

Rating: 2     Difficulty: 1
Lewis Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Lewis Falls was a wide 30ft tall waterfall on the Lewis River, where we chanced upon it as we were driving south on the South Entrance Road as it was one of the easier waterfalls to see. According to The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery, the falls was named after Meriwether Lewis from the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1803-1807, despite the fact that their explorations were 50 miles to the north of this spot. That said, a Hayden surveyor by the name of Frank Bradley honored Lewis by naming the falls as such because he wanted at least one landmark to be named after one of the guys who first surveyed the region. Each time we've stopped for this waterfall, it was in the morning when the rising sun would shine right on the waterfall whereas for the rest of the day, at least part or all of it would be in shadow. Thus, morning would be the time to take photographs.

When we first visited the falls in June 2004, the best views we were willing to get were from the north side of the bridge over the Lewis River. I did spot some faint trails that continued for a closer and more direct look at the Lewis Falls, but it looked ill-defined. That said, I suspected that the picture shown in the Yellowstone Waterfalls book was probably where that trail would have led to. On a more recent visit in August 2017, it appeared that a new trail was built that brought us closer to the falls, and that was where the photo at the top of this page came from. This was one of a handful of examples where the park service made changes to the park that was actually for the better, especially in this case where erosion from off-trail scrambling would be less likely given the obvious trail that was now in place while at the same time enhancing the visitor experience.

Finally, the Lewis and Clark expedition was significant because it was the first government-sanctioned effort to explore and map the Western Frontiers (including parts of what would become Yellowstone National Park) shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Apparently with some assistance from Sacagawea (a Native American woman from the Shoshone Tribe), they ultimately reached the Pacific Ocean. For better or for worse (especially for Native Americans), this set the state for settlers to come west, but it also set the stage for the eventual establishment of National Parks.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

A blue hot spring fronting Yellowstone Lake.  This was in the West Thumb Geyser Basin, which was not far north of Lewis FallsA blue hot spring fronting Yellowstone Lake. This was in the West Thumb Geyser Basin, which was not far north of Lewis Falls
The West Thumb Geyser Basin was a worthwhile stop for us because of its unique location next to the scenic Yellowstone LakeThe West Thumb Geyser Basin was a worthwhile stop for us because of its unique location next to the scenic Yellowstone Lake
Further west of the West Thumb Geyser Basin was the Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful, where we happened to catch the impressive Beehive Geyser erupting during our 2017 visitFurther west of the West Thumb Geyser Basin was the Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful, where we happened to catch the impressive Beehive Geyser erupting during our 2017 visit
Further to the south from Lewis Falls was the Grand Teton National Park, where the impressive skyline of the Tetons themselves could be seen fronted by various subjects like the Mormon Row barnsFurther to the south from Lewis Falls was the Grand Teton National Park, where the impressive skyline of the Tetons themselves could be seen fronted by various subjects like the Mormon Row barns
Checking out the rising sun from the Lewis Falls pullouts by the bridge over the Lewis RiverChecking out the rising sun from the pullouts by the bridge over the Lewis River

Context of the pullouts flanking the South Entrance Road by the Lewis FallsContext of the pullouts flanking the South Entrance Road by the falls

Context of the view of Lewis Falls from the north side of the Lewis River BridgeContext of the view of Lewis Falls from the north side of the Lewis River Bridge

Steamy view towards the Lewis Falls suggesting that the Lewis River must have had some degree of geothermal heatingSteamy view towards the Lewis Falls suggesting that the Lewis River must have had some degree of geothermal heating

This was how we saw Lewis Falls when we first noticed it in June 2004 while traversing the bridge over Lewis RiverThis was how we saw the falls when we first noticed it in June 2004 while traversing the bridge over the Lewis River

After some brief scrambling to try to improve the view, this was about as clean a look as I could get without straying too far from the bridgeAfter some brief scrambling to try to improve the view, this was about as clean a look as I could get without straying too far from the bridge

Back in 2004, this view of the Lewis Falls from the south side of the bridge was about as good a view as I was going to getBack in 2004, this view of the Lewis Falls from the south side of the bridge was about as good a view as I was going to get

Then, in our most recent visit in 2017, the park service appeared to have improved the trail and viewing areaThen, in our most recent visit in 2017, the park service appeared to have improved the trail and viewing area

This was the view of Lewis Falls from the start of the newly built or newly improved trailThis was the view of the falls from the start of the newly built or newly improved trail

Following the short trail to its end to see what kind of view of Lewis Falls I was going to getFollowing the short trail to its end to see what kind of view of the falls I was going to get

Looking between some trees towards this closer view of Lewis FallsLooking between some trees towards this closer view of the falls

Looking back at the seemingly new Lewis Falls TrailLooking back at the seemingly new trail

Returning to the pullouts after having my fill of Lewis FallsReturning to the pullouts after having my fill of the falls


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Sweep from the north end of the bridge over Lewis River towards the falls


Angled view looking down at the falls from the very end of the short walk


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

The Lewis River Bridge from where we could see the falls was about 9.6 miles north of the Yellowstone South Entrance and a little over 11 miles south of the West Thumb Junction. Unlike our first visit in June 2004, the pullouts appeared to be long on both sides of the road making them both obvious while also accommodating several cars in either direction.

The Yellowstone South Entrance was about 57 miles (75 minutes drive) north of Jackson and 70 miles southeast of West Yellowstone, Montana.

For additional geographical context, West Yellowstone, Montana was 58 miles (at least 90 minutes drive) south of Gardiner, Montana, 90 miles (over 90 minutes drive) south of Bozeman, Montana, 72 miles (under 2 hours drive) north of Flagg Ranch (near Yellowstone's South Entrance), and 321 miles (about 4.5 hours drive) north of Salt Lake City, Utah.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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