Book: Over the Edge

Until the legendary legwork of Paul Rubinstein, Lee Whittlesey, and Mike Stevens, it was thought there were only about 50 waterfalls in Yellowstone. Seven years and 5,000 miles of backcountry exploration later, their landmark book, The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery ($22, Westcliffe Publishers) shattered all assumptions.

Whittlesey began collaborating with a man named John Barber in the late 1970s to document all the known, mapped waterfalls in Yellowstone for a previous book about the subject. But by the early 1990s, Whittlesey had also joined with backcountry experts Paul Rubenstein (a former air traffic controller and geographer) and Mike Stevens (a former high-school math teacher and 17-year Yellowstone Park volunteer) to help take photos for some new waterfall research.

It was in the course of that research that Rubinstein discovered historical references alluding to many more waterfalls encountered by Native Americans, early trappers, and backcountry hikers. In an effort to incorporate every waterfall feature, the trio began studying and surveying undocumented Yellowstone streams. Over a dozen of these “new” falls turned out to be within just three miles of Old Faithful, and more than 25 were an amazing 100 feet or higher. They discovered waterfalls that begin at cliff faces and then disappear 30 feet later, and they found cascades that twist 180 degrees in their descent. As first documenters, the authors had the opportunity to name over 230 features.

The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery documents these 300 individual waterfalls and cascades in the Park and provides detailed information about each, including photographs, type, height, location, category of access, standard trail recommendations, and map coordinates. Woven through these particulars are the natural and human histories of these geographic discoveries.