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, 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. As you can see in the photo 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.
To get up to the waterfall, 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 meandered along the wide open Lupine Meadow on a combination of boardwalk and conventional dirt trail. 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, but as you can see in the photo above, we showed up early enough to see the falls before the morning sun breached the neighboring hills.
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. 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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