Rustic Falls

Yellowstone National Park / Mammoth, Wyoming, USA

About Rustic Falls


Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2004-06-23
Date last visited: 2020-08-03

Waterfall Latitude: 44.93406
Waterfall Longitude: -110.72567

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Rustic Falls was an interesting little 47ft roadside waterfall that rippled over a basalt cliff giving the falls a distinctive texture and character to it.

It also had somewhat of an unusual fan shape (or I guess you could also think of it like a bell or bulb shape) adding to its scenic allure.

Rustic_Falls_005_06232004 - Rustic Falls
Rustic Falls

We happened to see the falls in late June 2004 which apparently was pretty close to peak flow, but I’ve read in the literature that this waterfall could go dry not much deeper into Summer.

However, when we came back in early August 2020, this waterfall still had a pretty healthy flow, which led me to believe that it might very well last year-round, especially when it gets rain from Summer thunderstorms.

Anyways, Rustic Falls resided below the western slopes of Bunsen Peak in a section of the Grand Loop called the Golden Gate.

I’m guessing it was so named because passing through this section reminded earlier visitors of going through some entranceway en route to Mammoth.

Rustic_Falls_026_08032020 - Context of the direct view of Rustic Falls with the Grand Loop Road on the right
Context of the direct view of Rustic Falls with the Grand Loop Road on the right

Since the canyon appeared pretty suddenly and abruptly as we passed beneath Bunsen Peak, the road made a pretty steep descent alongside Glen Creek.

This was the creek responsible for both the Rustic Falls and the depth of the canyon itself.

Apparently, these factors also conspired to make the road through here a bit of a challenge for engineers to build.

As for seeing the falls, we had to find one of a couple of pullouts with limited space (see directions below).

Rustic_Falls_049_08032020 - Context of the road shoulder to improve the view of Rustic Falls
Context of the road shoulder to improve the view of Rustic Falls

Then, we ended up having to walk alongside the road until we got the views of Rustic Falls that we wanted from gradually differing angles.

Authorities

Rustic Falls resides in Yellowstone National Park near Gardiner in Park County, Wyoming. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit the National Park Service website.

Rustic_Falls_002_08032020 - After pulling over by a roadside stop just downstream of Rustic Falls, I noticed this bird perched on a rock during my return visit in August 2020
Rustic_Falls_003_08032020 - Looking downhill from the Rustic Falls pullout at the Golden and Silver Gates in August 2020
Rustic_Falls_005_08032020 - Looking back at some cars parked at the roadside pullout in front of Rustic Falls during our visit in August 2020
Rustic_Falls_008_08032020 - Looking upstream at Rustic Falls during our return visit in August 2020
Rustic_Falls_009_08032020 - Contextual view of Rustic Falls as seen from the pullout during our visit in August 2020
Rustic_Falls_013_08032020 - Looking back at the pullout as I was walking along the road shoulder to improve my views of Rustic Falls during our August 2020 visit
Rustic_Falls_014_08032020 - More zoomed in look towards Rustic Falls as I was walking along the road to improve the view in August 2020
Rustic_Falls_002_iPhone_08032020 - I found it interesting how the iPhone treats the lighting and color differently when I took photos of Rustic Falls during our visit in August 2020
Rustic_Falls_005_iPhone_08032020 - Another more colored look at Rustic Falls during our visit in August 2020
Rustic_Falls_007_iPhone_08032020 - Zoomed out look at Rustic Falls showing that there was threatening weather approaching during our visit in August 2020
Rustic_Falls_041_08032020 - This was the Sony alpha7 mirrorless camera's capture of the same shot of Rustic Falls in August 2020
Rustic_Falls_051_08032020 - This was the somewhat partial view of Rustic Falls from exactly at the pullout downstream from it.  So you can see why I needed to walk along the road shoulder to improve the view during our August 2020 visit
Rustic_Falls_006_jx_06232004 - Looking over the brink of Rustic Falls flanked by some wildflowers during our visit in June 2004. This photo and the remaining photos in this gallery were taken from that trip
Rustic_Falls_004_jx_06232004 - Walking a little further down the Grand Loop Road to start seeing more of Rustic Falls' rippling front during our visit in June 2004
Rustic_Falls_003_06232004 - Rustic Falls continued to reveal more of itself the further down the road we walked from its brink during our June 2004 visit
Rustic_Falls_008_06232004 - Direct look at the bulbous shape of Rustic Falls during our visit in June 2004
Rustic_Falls_009_06232004 - Looking up Glen Creek towards Rustic Falls in June 2004. Notice the cars parked near its brink
Rustic_Falls_012_06232004 - Contextual view of Rustic Falls as seen from our first visit in June 2004. Notice the road on the right side, which provided a sense of scale
Rustic_Falls_013_06232004 - Another frontal view right at the bulbous shape of Rustic Falls during our visit in June 2004

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There are a couple of pullouts that let you get out of your car and go for a better look at the Rustic Falls.

The first pullout or parking spot is right near the top of the falls about 4.5 miles south of Mammoth on the Grand Loop Road between Golden Gate and Swan Flat.

Rustic_Falls_050_08032020 - The roadside pullout downstream of Rustic Falls at the so-called Golden Gate
The roadside pullout downstream of Rustic Falls at the so-called Golden Gate

If you’re headed north, it’s roughly 16.5 miles from the Norris Junction.

The pullouts and designated parking spots here have limited space, and you can’t really get a decent view of the waterfall from there.

The other pullout is a little further downstream.

If you missed the pullout/car park area mentioned above, you could give this other pullout a try, which I think is about 0.2 or 0.3 miles further down the hill (heading towards Mammoth).

Rustic_Falls_015_08032020 - More zoomed in look at Rustic Falls. Notice the cars parked by its brink, which was another spot you can stop for this waterfall
More zoomed in look at Rustic Falls. Notice the cars parked by its brink, which was another spot you can stop for this waterfall

If you stop here, you have to walk uphill in order to get a closer look at the falls, but at least you’d immediately get frontal views of the falls.

For context, Mammoth Hot Springs is just south of the North Entrance of Yellowstone, roughly 90 minutes drive (84 miles) from Bozeman, Montana. The Norris Junction is roughly 45 minutes drive (28 miles) east of West Yellowstone, Montana. West Yellowstone was about 4.5 hours drive north of Salt Lake City.

Downstream to upstream sweep from along the road towards the Rustic Falls

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Tagged with: golden gate, mammoth hot springs, mammoth, yellowstone, norris, wyoming, waterfall, rockies, rocky mountains, glen creek



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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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