Yellowstone Falls

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Upper Yellowstone Falls
Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River.jpg
LocationYellowstone National Park, Park County, Wyoming, USA
Coordinates44°42′46″N 110°29′59″W / 44.71278°N 110.49972°W / 44.71278; -110.49972
Total height109 feet (33m)
WatercourseYellowstone River
 
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Upper Yellowstone Falls
Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River.jpg
LocationYellowstone National Park, Park County, Wyoming, USA
Coordinates44°42′46″N 110°29′59″W / 44.71278°N 110.49972°W / 44.71278; -110.49972
Total height109 feet (33m)
WatercourseYellowstone River
Lower Yellowstone Falls
YellowstonefallJUN05.JPG
LocationYellowstone National Park
Coordinates44°43′05″N 110°29′46″W / 44.71806°N 110.49611°W / 44.71806; -110.49611
Total height308 feet (94m)
WatercourseYellowstone River

Yellowstone Falls consist of two major waterfalls on the Yellowstone River, within Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States. As the Yellowstone river flows north from Yellowstone Lake, it leaves the Hayden Valley and plunges first over Upper Yellowstone Falls and then a quarter mile (400 m) downstream over Lower Yellowstone Falls, at which point it then enters the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which is up to 1,000 feet (304 m) deep.

Upper Yellowstone Falls[edit]

The upper falls (44°42′46″N 110°29′59″W / 44.71278°N 110.49972°W / 44.71278; -110.49972) are 109 feet (33 m) high. The brink of the upper falls marks the junction between a hard rhyolite lava flow and weaker glassy lava that has been more heavily eroded.

Lower Yellowstone Falls[edit]

The lower falls (44°43′05″N 110°29′46″W / 44.71806°N 110.49611°W / 44.71806; -110.49611) are 308 feet (94 m) high, or almost twice as high as Niagara. The volume of water is in no way comparable to Niagara as the width of the Yellowstone River before it goes over the lower falls is 70 feet (22 m), whereas Niagara is a half mile (800 m).

The lower falls descend from the 590,000 year old Canyon Rhyolite lava flow. The lower falls of the Yellowstone is still the largest volume major waterfall in the Rocky Mountains of the United States. The volume of water flowing over the falls can vary from 63,500 USgal/s (240 m³/s) at peak runoff to 5,000 USgal/s (19 m³/s) in the fall.

History[edit]

It is likely that Native American tribes knew of the falls for centuries. Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition made a note in his journal about hearing of the falls but did not believe the story. The first European to see the falls was likely French fur trapper Baptise Ducharme who claimed to see the falls in 1824, 1826 and 1839. Jim Bridger and fellow explorer James Gremmell claimed they visited the falls in 1846. In 1851, Bridger provided missionary Father Pierre-Jean De Smet a map showing the location of the falls. The Cook–Folsom–Peterson Expedition, a private group of three explorers named the falls in 1869.[1] The earliest images of the falls were drawn by Private Charles Moore, a member of the U.S. Army escort of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition which explored the Yellowstone River in August–September 1870.[2] During the Hayden Expedition of 1871, the falls were documented in photographs by William Henry Jackson and later in paintings by Thomas Moran. In January 1887, Frank Jay Haynes took the first winter photographs of the lower falls.

Over the years the estimates of the height of Lower Falls has varied dramatically. In 1851 Jim Bridger estimated its height at 250 feet. One outrageous newspaper story from 1867 placed its height at "thousands of feet". A map from 1869 gives the falls its current name of Lower Falls for the first time and estimates the height at 350 feet. However the current map lists the Lower Falls at a height of 308 feet.

Viewing the falls[edit]

Today, there are numerous vantage points for viewing the falls. The Canyon loop road skirts the west side of the canyon with several vehicle parking areas. One trail leads down to the brink of the lower falls, a steep third of a mile (600 m). Another vantage point descends from the east down a series of stairs attached to the cliffs.

The Lower Falls area is located just to the south and east of Canyon Village in Yellowstone National Park. A one-way loop drive starting south from Canyon Junction takes one to the brink of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and offers four viewpoints, with the first stop at the trail that leads to the top of the Lower Falls. The one-way drive continues east and north past the other viewpoints, rejoining the main Grand Loop road from the east at Canyon Junction once more.

Images of Yellowstone Falls
Lower Yellowstone Falls by Private Moore (1870) 
Upper Yellowstone Falls by Private Moore (1870) 
Lower Falls, by William Henry Jackson, 1871 
Yellowstone Falls by Thomas Moran, 1871 
Lower Falls, January 1887, Frank Jay Haynes 
Lower Falls by Frank Jay Haynes, 1909 
Brink of Upper falls, 1916 
Ansel Adams, 1942 
Lower Falls from Artist Point 
Upper Falls 
Lower Yellowstone Falls 
Lower Falls 
Upper falls 
Lower Yellowstone Falls 
Looking at the lower falls
(View in high quality
View from the crest of the lower falls
(View in high quality
Media related to Yellowstone Falls at Wikimedia Commons

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Rubinstein, Paul; Whittlesey, Lee H.; Stevens, Mike (2000). The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery. Englewood, CO: Westcliffe Publishers. pp. 41–44. ISBN 156579351X. 
  2. ^ Langford, Nathaniel Pitt (1905). The Discovery of Yellowstone Park; Diary of the Washburn Expedition to the Yellowstone and Firehole Rivers in the Year 1870. St. Paul, MN: Frank Jay Haynes.