Saturday, July 6, 2013

Psychotic Lewis River

About ten miles south of Grant Village in Yellowstone you can find the Lewis River, in my opinion one of the more psychotic rivers in the park. 

IMG_3104 LewisRiverFog
Lewis River below the falls
Cascading off the rim of the 640,000 year old caldera, at the south end of Lewis Lake the river at first drops some 30 feet at – what else? – Lewis Falls. This picturesque falls is carving its own channel through the 70,000–year–old Pitchstone Plateau flow, the last lava flow to have occurred in Yellowstone. 

30-foot drop of Lewis Falls

Not far from the base of the falls the flow slows and the river widens, its banks and sloughs becoming lined with willow. This is prime beaver habitat, with seven or eight lodges and at least three dams along a one mile stretch of placid river. 

Beaver lodge on far bank of Lewis River

Willow branch swimming upstream

But there is another attraction further downstream along this stretch of park road, and that attraction is Lewis Canyon. Once more the river takes on a completely different personality as it plunges incessantly down, for several miles carving a rugged and boulder–splattered channel through older lavas flows. 

Lewis Canyon

Weathered Lava Falls tuff outcrops in Lewis Canyon

The roadway above is narrow and twisting, with mere inches of shoulder and not much room for pull–outs. The guardrail appears to be mostly for cosmetic purposes. If you have issues with exposure you might want to choose another route. But if you like living life on the edge and don’t mind possibly getting dinged by an errant mirror from a passing motorhome, you might want to consider checking out the psychotic Lewis River. You might even see a willow branch swimming upstream. 

Park road winds above Lewis Canyon


  1. Gorgeous! Definitely my kind of road and scenery. Including the upstream swimming branch. :)

    1. Yes it is gorgeous, Gaelyn. I actually walked sections of the road the other morning, when there was little traffic. It's the route to Grand Tetons/Jackson and so I rarely stop when I'm on my way to hike or shop.