Wilderness Falls and Columbine Falls

Grand Teton National Park / Jackson Lake / Teton County, Wyoming, USA

Rating: 1.5     Difficulty: 1
Wilderness Falls (top) and Columbine Falls (bottom)

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

The Wilderness Falls and Columbine Falls (also called the Columbine Cascade) were a pair of prominent waterfalls that left us wanting more as the views were quite distant as you can see in the photo at the top of this page. Wilderness Falls was the upper (and more noticeable) of the pair of waterfalls, and it was said to be at least 250ft tall as the water shot out of a narrow chute and grew in width for its entire drop. Roughly a half-mile further downstream was the Columbine Falls, which was named after the flowers that grew in Waterfall Canyon. It was said to be at least 200ft tall as the stream tumbled over a series of rocks that settled there from rockfalls and erosion. I'd imagine that the best views of the falls would be on a boat within the man-made Jackson Lake. However, in our case, we remained land-bound and were content to get our views from across the lake.

To my knowledge, there were no formal boating excursions to get closer to the pair of waterfalls. So we managed to get the informal views from Jackson Lake Lodge, Colter Bay Village, and even as far as Willow Flats. By far the most satisfying spot to view the waterfalls was from the attractive Jackson Lake Lodge, which featured a large viewing area on the backside of the main lobby of the lodge. In order to even get a decent picture of the Wilderness Falls and Columbine Cascade, I needed a zoom lens or telephoto lens with at least 200mm zoom capability. Without that kind of zoom, the falls would look puny compared to the rest of the landscape.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

The most satisfying view we got of the Wilderness Falls and Columbine Cascade was from the Jackson Lake Lodge, which also featured panoramic views of the Teton SkylineThe most satisfying view we got of the Wilderness Falls and Columbine Cascade was from the Jackson Lake Lodge, which also featured panoramic views of the Teton Skyline
A little further south of Colter Bay, we stayed at Signal Mountain Lodge, which offered us this beautiful view across Jackson Lake towards the Teton RangeA little further south of Colter Bay, we stayed at Signal Mountain Lodge, which offered us this beautiful view across Jackson Lake towards the Teton Range
This is the famous Snake River Overlook that Ansel Adams made famous as it peered towards the Teton RangeThis is the famous Snake River Overlook that Ansel Adams made famous as it peered towards the Teton Range
Another popular view of the Grand Teton Range was from the Oxbow Bend near the Moran Junction, where it was possible to see Mt Moran reflected in the Snake RiverAnother popular view of the Grand Teton Range was from the Oxbow Bend near the Moran Junction, where it was possible to see Mt Moran reflected in the Snake River
This was the very distant yet contextual view of both the Wilderness Falls and Columbine Falls from the Willow Flats OverlookThis was the very distant yet contextual view of both waterfalls from the Willow Flats Overlook

Portrait view focusing on the Wilderness and Columbine Falls with slightly better morning lightingPortrait view focusing on the Wilderness and Columbine Falls with slightly better morning lighting

This was a contextual view of both the Wilderness and Columbine Falls from the Jackson Lake Lodge as bad weather was threatening to overtake the areaThis was the contextual view of both the Wilderness and Columbine Falls from the Jackson Lake Lodge as bad weather was threatening to overtake the area

Contextual view of Wilderness and Columbine Falls from Jackson Lake LodgeContextual view of Wilderness and Columbine Falls from Jackson Lake Lodge

Zoomed in towards the bottom of Waterfall Canyon so we could see the context of the Wilderness and Columbine Falls with the flat plains and forest between Jackson Lake Lodge and the waterfallsZoomed in towards the bottom of Waterfall Canyon so we could see the context of the Wilderness and Columbine Falls with the flat plains and forest between Jackson Lake Lodge and teh waterfalls

Context of the wide lookout area at the Jackson Lake LodgeContext of the wide lookout area at the Jackson Lake Lodge

Incoming bad weather overtaking the southern end of Jackson Lake and it was headed our wayIncoming bad weather overtaking the southern end of Jackson Lake and it was headed our way

View of the Wilderness Falls and Columbine Falls from somewhere near Colter Bay in good weather back in June 2004View of the Wilderness Falls and Columbine Falls from somewhere near Colter Bay in good weather back in June 2004

View of just Wilderness Falls from a different part of the Colter Bay complex with Jackson Lake in the foregroundView of just Wilderness Falls from a different part of the Colter Bay complex with Jackson Lake in the foreground


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


360 degree sweep of the panorama seen from the Jackson Lake Lodge before zooming in on the Wilderness and Columbine Falls


Checking out the panorama of the Tetons from Willow Flats before zooming in on the Wilderness and Columbine Falls


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

We managed to spot the Wilderness Falls and Columbine Falls (or Columbine Cascade) combo from three different spots, which we'll get to in this section.

The closest view would most likely be at Colter Bay Village, which was pretty much right across Jackson Lake from Waterfall Canyon. The Colter Bay turnoff was within the northern end of Grand Teton National Park, and it was a about 6 miles (over 10 minutes drive) north along US89 of Moran Junction or about 16 miles (around 25 minutes drive) south of Flagg Ranch.

The most satisfying spot to experience the Wilderness and Columbine Falls was from the Jackson Lake Lodge. Its turnoff was a little over 4 miles south of the Colter Bay Village turnoff, about 1.6 miles north of the Moran Junction, and 20 miles (30 minutes drive) south of Flagg Ranch.

The Willow Flats Overlook was about a half-mile north of the Moran Junction.

To give you some context, Colter Bay Village was about 40 miles (under an hour drive) north of Jackson, 129 miles (under 3 hours drive) east of Idaho Falls, Idaho, 88 miles (over 2 hours drive) south of West Yellowstone, Montana, 118 miles (over 3 hours drive) south of Gardiner, Montana, and about 320 miles (5.5 hours drive) north from 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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