Undine Falls

Yellowstone National Park / Mammoth, Wyoming, USA

About Undine Falls


Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2004-06-24
Date last visited: 2017-08-10

Waterfall Latitude: 44.94403
Waterfall Longitude: -110.64051

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Undine Falls (pronounced “UHN-deen”) was one of the easier waterfalls to experience in Yellowstone National Park.

Indeed, it didn’t get much easier than pulling up to the large roadside pullout then walking right up to its adjacent overlook with an expansive view towards Lava Creek’s 60ft plunge over three drops.

That said, it certainly looked way taller than that. I was thinking more on the order of at least 100ft unless the distant view somehow messed with my sense of perspective.

Undine_Falls_17_010_08102017 - Undine Falls
Undine Falls

In any case, each time we’ve seen this waterfall (once in June 2004 and another time in August 2017), Lava Creek had pretty healthy flow as it flowed from east to west (so the best lighting was in the afternoon).

It literally took only a few minutes to view it before we continued on our way.

To my knowledge, in order to get closer to this waterfall, you’d have to pull up to the Lava Creek Picnic Area further to the east of the pullout, then walk on the Lava Creek Trail towards the falls.

I have yet to try this so I have no idea what the view of the falls would be like from there.

Origins of the name and waterfall

According to The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery, this waterfall was once named East Gardner Falls or Gardiner River Falls among others.

This was curious because Lava Creek feeds the Gardner River further downstream, but it was technically not on the river.

Anyhow, it was said that the current name came from geologist Arnold Hague who named this falls in 1885 after female water spirits based on German mythology.

As for the waterfall’s creation, it was said to be the result of a lava flow that took place some 700,000 years ago resulting in the hard basalt rock layer typical of plunging waterfalls like this one.

I often wondered if this lava was a consequence of one of the Yellowstone Supervolcano eruptions that geologists are aware of (the last one was said to have erupted 640,000 years ago).

Authorities

Undine Falls resides in Yellowstone National Park. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit the National Park Service website.

Undine_Falls_17_001_08102017 - Approaching the viewing lookout, which was pretty much adjacent to the large roadside pullout
Undine_Falls_17_003_08102017 - Portrait view of Undine Falls to try to show the cascading Lava Creek further downstream of the waterfall
Undine_Falls_003_06242004 - This was a zoomed in look at Undine Falls when we first saw it back in June 2004
Undine_Falls_015_06242004 - A wildflower growing near the overlook of Undine Falls. In the past, the lookout was far more primitive than when we saw it in 2017 because it was much easier to scramble around the lookout back then
Undine_Falls_001_jx_06242004 - Contextual look at Undine Falls in the early afternoon in 2004 so it reveals the mountains in the background
Undine_Falls_17_002_08102017 - To bring it back to more recent times, this photo taken in August 2017 shows a similar context against a combination of morning sun filtering through the smoke haze from wildfires hundreds of miles away

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As mentioned above, we were able to appreciate the Undine Falls from a roadside pullout along the Grand Loop Road between Mammoth and Roosevelt about 4 miles east of the Mammoth junction. The falls is about 14 miles west of the Roosevelt Junction.

To give you some context, Mammoth and the Mammoth Hot Springs is 5.5 miles south of Gardiner, Montana, about 84 miles (over 90 minutes drive) south from Bozeman, Montana, about 49 miles (under 90 minutes drive) northeast of West Yellowstone, Montana, 184 miles (under 4 hours drive) northeast of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and 397 miles (about 7 hours drive) north of Salt Lake City.

Morning sweep of the roadside falls

Tagged with: lava creek, mammoth, roosevelt, yellowstone, wyoming, waterfall, rockies, rocky mountains



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