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.
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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