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 (though it certainly looked way taller than that like more on the order of at least 100ft). 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.
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).
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.
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