Yellowstone has lots of amazing natural features to explore, but sometimes it’s the unassuming trail that delivers the most surprising enjoyment. Wraith Falls is not one of Yellowstone’s biggest or boldest waterfalls, but the 0.8-mile round trip hike to the 100-foot streaking cascade is as pleasant as it is easy. After making a beeline across a grassy meadow to the creek below Wraith Falls, the trail turns uphill, climbing fifty feet (out of a total of 100 feet of elevation gain) in the last tenth of a mile to a viewpoint of Wraith Falls.
In late summer, raspberries bloom along the dirt trail and might be the only thing to slow you down as you walk the first 0.3 miles of the trail to a wooden footbridge. Sparse pines allow long views over the valley. Cross Lupine Creek and climb a couple short switchbacks to a clear view of Wraith Falls. The water tumbles down a slick rock slope, cutting a channel through a forest of Douglas firs.
The white bulb-shaped gusher resembled a ghost to early surveyors who named it Wraith Falls. If you get spooked, just return the way you came. There is an entrance fee for Yellowstone National Park, but no permit is required to hike Wraith Falls Trail. If you are in the mood to see another waterfall, head a mile down the road to an overlook for Undine Falls.
To get to the trailhead: From Mammoth Hot Springs in the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park, drive 5 miles southeast on Grand Loop Road. The turnout for Wraith Falls is on the south side of the road just under a mile past the turnout for Undine Falls (on the north side of the road).
Trailhead address: Grand Loop Road, Yellowstone National Park, WY82190
Trailhead coordinates: 44.942445, -110.623598 (44° 56′ 32.80″N 110° 37′ 24.95″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding Wyoming trails and campgrounds.
|Mammoth Hot Springs|
This series of boardwalks explores a park highlight, a collection of colorful hot springs terraces.
This 1.25-mile round trip hike follows a riverbank to a natural hot tub where a stream of water cooked by nearby hydrothermal features mixes with the river.
|Calcite Springs Overlook|
This 0.25-mile loop overlooks a dramatic section of the Yellowstone River lined by bleached cliffs and steam venting hydrothermal springs.
This 1-mile hike starts with a head-on view of a 132-foot waterfall. Unfortunately, the final leg of the trail to the base of Tower Fall is closed due to damage from rock and mud slides.
This 1.1-mile hike circles a hillside hydrothermal area, passing bursting mudpots, bubbling hot springs, and mesmerizing milky blue pools.
|Monument Geyser Basin|
This 2.8-mile hike reaches a rarely visited hydrothermal area that is boardwalk-free and fun to explore.
|More trails in Yellowstone|
Explore other hikes to waterfalls and hydrothermal hot spots in Yellowstone National Park.
|Yellowstone National Park Campgrounds|
There are 12 developed campgrounds with over 2,000 total sites spread throughout Yellowstone.