Finding Uncharted Waterfalls in Yellowstone Park

Three outdoor enthusiasts find uncharted waterfalls in Yellowstone Park, their new book shows photos of undocumented pristine waterfall areas environmentalists are eager to protect.
By Sam Martin
December 2000/January 2001
Add to My MSN

The Yellowstone waterfalls discovery proves that there are still spots of uncharted wilderness right under our noses.

Content Tools

Related Content

Hiking The Ozarks' Lost Valley

Hiking The Ozarks' Lost Valley - Where getting lost is part of the fun! By Mike McArthy of Photozark...

National Parks for Bicyclists

One of the best—albeit not the warmest—times to bicycle in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national park...

Earth Gauge Tip of the Week — National Public Lands Day

Volunteer to take care of the public lands in your area during National Public Lands Day on Septembe...

Decline of Predators at the Top of the Food Chain Modifies the Ecosystem

According to a new study published in Science journal, destruction of predators at the top of the fo...

Three outdoor enthusiasts share their news upon finding uncharted waterfalls in Yellowstone Park. 

If you thought GPS mapping and satellite photography had uncovered every inch of the lower 48 states, think again. Paul Rubinstein, Lee Whittlesey and Mike Stevens would like to show you a few things they've found.

Inspired by Lewis and Clark's unfinished business, the three outdoor enthusiasts (Rubenstein is an aerial photographer, Whittlesey is an archivist for the National Park Service and Stevens is a high-school math teacher) have discovered and photographed more than 200 uncharted waterfalls in Yellowstone Park that have never before been documented. Their book, The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery (Westcliffe Publishers, 2000), hit the shelves this fall. According to Dr. Judith Meyers, a geology professor at Southern Missouri State University, the discovery proves that there are still spots of uncharted wilderness right under our noses.

"We haven't discovered everything just yet," she says. "We've gone to the moon and we've mapped the surface of Mars, but we often forget that discovery is an ongoing process. Hopefully, this will remind us that we should take a second look and pause to look for things of value that we haven't seen before. There may be something undiscovered in a vacant lot downtown or in our backyards."

That said, Dr. Meyer is also quick to point out that the last thing Yellowstone needs is a network of new trails tearing up the back country so that people can look at these new wonders. Park rangers and other Yellowstone aficionados are worried about the publicity the book might generate. As far as they're concerned, the waterfalls have been there all along.

"The operative word here is 'discover,'" Meyer cautions. "Most people tend to think that discovery means seeing it for the first time, but to be considered a discoverer you have to publicize your knowledge of a feature. There's a controversy within Yellowstone that these waterfalls haven't been discovered at all. After all, if you found Shangri-La would you tell everybody?"

Probably not. But with the exception of a patch of indigenous crabgrass found near Old Faithful three years ago, a discovery this big — documentation included — hasn't come out of the park in more than a century. Better dust off the hiking boots.

—Sam Martin  

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.