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: 2020-08-04

Waterfall Latitude: 44.94403
Waterfall Longitude: -110.63892

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 tiers.

Undine_Falls_009_08042020 - Undine Falls
Undine Falls

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).

In any case, each time we’ve seen this waterfall (once in June 2004, once in August 2017, and once in August 2020), 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.

Undine_Falls_029_08042020 - The lookout area for Undine Falls, which was very close to the parking lot
The lookout area for Undine Falls, which was very close to the parking lot

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.

Undine_Falls_003_06242004 - Undine Falls when we first saw it in June 2004
Undine Falls when we first saw it in June 2004

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 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.

Undine_Falls_001_08042020 - Descending to the Undine Falls Lookout, where there were a handful of people there during our August 2020 visit
Undine_Falls_005_08042020 - Undine Falls got pretty good afternoon lighting during our August 2020 visit, but as the day progressed, the shadows deep below on Lava Creek started to creep up towards the falls
Undine_Falls_010_08042020 - Contextual view of Undine Falls as seen from its lookout in the late afternoon of our August 2020 visit
Undine_Falls_013_08042020 - This portrait view of Undine Falls showed how the shadows already covered up a good chunk of Lava Creek at the base of the waterfall on our August 2020 visit
Undine_Falls_016_08042020 - Another contextual look at Undine Falls showing some of the lava cliffs to the left of it during our August 2020 visit
Undine_Falls_019_08042020 - During our visit at the Undine Falls Lookout, waves of people would come and go. This was one of the busier moments during our August 2020 visit
Undine_Falls_022_08042020 - This was my attempt at taking a long exposure photograph of Undine Falls without a tripod as there were too many people around to try to set up such a shot properly with a tripod on our August 2020 visit
Undine_Falls_025_08042020 - This was a more focused long-exposure attempt at capturing Undine Falls without a tripod on our August 2020 visit
Undine_Falls_17_001_08102017 - Approaching the viewing lookout, which was pretty much adjacent to the large roadside pullout. This photo was taken during our August 2017 visit
Undine_Falls_17_002_08102017 - Contextual look at Undine Falls when we visited in August 2017. It was looking against the morning sun and there was smoke haze from wildfires hundreds of miles away during that visit.
Undine_Falls_17_003_08102017 - Portrait view of Undine Falls to try to show the cascading Lava Creek further downstream of the waterfall during our August 2017 visit
Undine_Falls_17_009_08102017 - Zoomed in broad view of Undine Falls against the morning sun and smoke haze from wildfires hundreds of miles away during our August 2017 visit
Undine_Falls_17_010_08102017 - Fully contextual view against the morning sun under some smoke from the wildfires that were blowing smoke towards Yellowstone during our August 2017 visit
Undine_Falls_001_06242004 - Undine Falls when we first saw it in June 2004. The rest of the photos in this gallery came from that trip
Undine_Falls_007_06242004 - More zoomed in look focused on the Undine Falls back in June 2004
Undine_Falls_015_06242004 - A wildflower growing near the overlook of Undine Falls as seen in June 2004. 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. There was also a lot more fencing to try to keep people away from the dropoffs
Undine_Falls_001_jx_06242004 - Another contextual look at Undine Falls in the early afternoon in June 2004 so it reveals the mountains in the background

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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.

Comprehensive sweep of Undine Falls as seen in good afternoon lighting during our August 2020 visit


Morning sweep of the roadside falls as seen during our August 2017 visit

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



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

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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