Wraith Falls

Yellowstone National Park / Mammoth, Wyoming, USA

About Wraith Falls

Hiking Distance: 1 mile round trip
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

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

Waterfall Latitude: 44.93734
Waterfall Longitude: -110.62301

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Wraith Falls appeared to us like the way an apparition might appear hovering against a cliff.

I wasn’t sure if we thought this way because of the name of the falls or if it was because of the waterfall’s shape.

Wraith_Falls_002_06242004 - Wraith Falls
Wraith Falls

But each time we’ve seen this waterfall (once in June 2004 and another in August 2017), the falls looked more like a white bulb.

According to The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery, the falls was so named by members of the Arnold Hague expeditions in 1885 who apparently thought the falls looked more like a ghost.

In addition, the book said that the cascade was on the order of 100ft tall, and that it was really more of a cascading slide than a steep-inclined waterfall.

In fact, they took a photo from an off-trail scramble such that the gentle inclined slope was apparent.

Wraith_Falls_015_06242004 - This was what Wraith Falls looked like when we first visited it in June 2004
This was what Wraith Falls looked like when we first visited it in June 2004

As you can see in both of the photos above, we settled for the more official view, which was more direct and gave the appearance of a steeper drop than what the reality was.

Hiking to Wraith Falls

To get up to Wraith Falls, we went on a very easy mile round trip hike that was pretty much flat for almost the entire way except for short climb at the end.

The trail started from a fairly wide pullout on the stretch of the Grand Loop Road between Mammoth and Roosevelt (see directions below).

Then, the trail meandered along the wide open Lupine Meadow on a combination of boardwalk and conventional dirt trail.

Wraith_Falls_17_030_08102017 - The hike to Wraith Falls traverses the wide open Lupine Meadow
The hike to Wraith Falls traverses the wide open Lupine Meadow

The vegetation started to increase the further along the meadow we went, and then the trail crossed a bridge spanning Lupine Creek before turning left to do the short climb.

It didn’t take long before we found ourselves at the sanctioned lookout.

While there were social trails going beyond the overlook to get closer to the falls, we pretty much were content with the views and weren’t keen on causing any more impacts to the area.

Since the falls was facing west, the best time of day to photograph the falls would be in the afternoon.

Wraith_Falls_17_012_08102017 - Ascending the steps leading up to the lookout for Wraith Falls
Ascending the steps leading up to the lookout for Wraith Falls

However, as you can see in the photo at the top of this page, we showed up early enough to see the falls before the morning sun breached the neighboring hills.


Wraith 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.

Wraith_Falls_17_001_08102017 - Looking ahead from the trailhead for Wraith Falls during my visit in August 2017
Wraith_Falls_17_003_08102017 - Initially, the Wraith Falls hike went through Lupine Meadow, which was sparsely wooded
Wraith_Falls_17_004_08102017 - Looking back towards a pair of hikers who were here before me on the morning of my second visit to Wraith Falls in August 2017
Wraith_Falls_17_006_08102017 - Some sections of the Wraith Falls Trail was on boardwalk as seen in this August 2017 photo
Wraith_Falls_17_008_08102017 - Eventually, Lupine Meadow gave way to a more densely wooded area as seen here
Wraith_Falls_17_010_08102017 - About to cross a footbridge over Lupine Creek, which was the stream responsible for Wraith Falls
Wraith_Falls_17_011_08102017 - Shortly after the footbridge, the Wraith Falls Trail turned left and started going up to the lookout
Wraith_Falls_17_013_08102017 - Morning look at Wraith Falls before the sun breached the neighboring hill during my visit in August 2017
Wraith_Falls_17_017_08102017 - Zoomed in look at Wraith Falls before the morning sun breached its cliff during my visit in August 2017
Wraith_Falls_17_021_08102017 - Contextual look at Wraith Falls in August 2017. Note the social trail that kept going closer
Wraith_Falls_17_024_08102017 - Looking back down at the trail towards Lupine Meadow after having had my fill of the Wraith Falls in August 2017
Wraith_Falls_17_028_08102017 - Looking down Lupine Creek after having gotten back to the footbridge during my visit to Wraith Falls in August 2017
Wraith_Falls_17_033_08102017 - Approaching the trailhead and the busy Grand Loop Road to end my quick Wraith Falls visit in August 2017
Wraith_Falls_002_06242004 - Zoomed in look at the Wraith Falls as seen in our first visit in June 2004
Wraith_Falls_013_06242004 - Zoomed in shot of Wraith Falls as seen during our first visit in June 2004
Wraith_Falls_003_jx_06242004 - Looking more closely at what I think were poison oak, which was the risk I would have taken had I continued to pursue the social trail that went beyond the lookout railing and right to the bottom of Wraith Falls back in June 2004

The pullout for the trailhead for Wraith Falls was about 5 miles east of the Mammoth Junction between Mammoth and Roosevelt on the south side of the road (or right side as you head east).

It was under a mile east of the pullout for Undine Falls.

Wraith_Falls_17_002_08102017 - The parking area at the trailhead for Wraith Falls, which was besides the Grand Loop Road
The parking area at the trailhead for Wraith Falls, which was besides the Grand Loop Road

The falls was about 13 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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Sweep checking out the falls in the morning

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Tagged with: lupine, roosevelt, mammoth, 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 the award-winning 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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