Source is from Hiram Martin Chittenden, unless otherwise noted.
(central Yellowstone, in Hayden Valley)Name known prior
to 1870. Name refers to alum characteristics of the creek.
(northeastern Yellowstone, east of Tower Fall)Named in
1878 by the United States Geological Survey. Named from Amethyst Mountain
from which it flows.
(northeaster Yellowstone, east of Amethyst Creek)Named
in 1885 by the United States Geological Survey. Named from the amphitheater-shaped
valley near the mouth of the creek.
(south of the park, near Pacific Creek)Named in 1873
by Captain Jones. Named for the fact that it is the creek that flows down
the Atlantic slope of Two-Ocean Pass--where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans'
(just north of the Park's boundary near Gardiner, MT).
Named in 1863 by a party of prospectors led by a man named Austin. There
they found a hairless cub and named the creek Bear.
(river flowing out the southwestern corner of Yellowstone)Named
in 1872 by the United States Geological Survey. Named for Gustavus R. Bechler,
a topographer on the Snake River Division of the Hayden Expedition of 1872.
Black-tail Deer Creek
(near or just north of park's northern boundary, east
of Gardiner, Montana). Named prior to 1870 apparently because it was home
to black-tail deer.
(south of the southwest corner of Yellowstone)Named prior
to 1870. Named for Robert Winslow, a pioneer of Irish descent who used
to call himself "Daniel Boone the Second."
(flows from Bridge Bay)Named in 1871 by the United States
Geological Survey. A tributary of Bridge Creek runs under Yellowstone's
(just south of the southeastern corner of Yellowstone)Name
already in common use prior to 1870. Named for James Bridger, "the Daniel
Boone of the Rockies", fur trapper, guide, and popularizer of myths (many
of which turned out to be close to the truth) about Yellowstone.(a link
to a short biography on Bridger will be made available as ready).
(northeastern Yellowstone, mostly south of Mt. Norris)Named
in 1863 by a prospecting party led by a man named Austin. The story of
this creek is that this prospecting party was in camp on this stream when
all their stock was stolen except one or two mules. Without mules to carry
their baggage, they cached what they could not carry. The name arose
(northeastern Yellowstone, south of Cache Creek)Named
by Philetus Norris in 1880. Named for H. B. Calfee, a notable photographer
(south of southwestern boundary of Yellowstone)Named
prior to 1870 by Richard Leigh. Named for Al Conant, who came to the mountains
in 1865 and almost lost his life on that stream."
(on the park's south central boundary)Named in 1885 by
the United States Geological Survey for John M. Coulter, botanist in the
Hayden Expedition of 1872.
(on park's northern boundary, east of Gardiner, MT)Named
in 1867 by a prospecting party led by Lou Anderson. Apparently, they found
gold in a crevice at the mouth of the creek, and so they named it Crevice
(near the Upper Falls)Named in 1870 by the Washburn Expedition.
The falls exhibits the quality of crystal in appearance.
De Lacy Creek
(Southeastern Yellowstone flowing from the Continental
Divide into Shoshone Lake)Named in 1880 by Philetus Norris. Named for Walter
W. De Lacy, the first white man known to have passed through that valley
in 1863. The creek was originally named Madison Creek by the Hayden Expedition
of 1871. The name was changed to reflect an inaccuracy in the naming of
Madison Lake, which had been thought to be the source of the Madison River
(See Shoshone Lake)(a link to a short biography
of De Lacy will be made available as ready).
(between the southern shore of West Thumb and the main
body of Yellowstone Lake)Named in 1878 by the United States Geological
Survey. Named because the lake had for a long time falsely thought to have
been an arm of Yellowstone Lake. This lake was thought to be the "index
finger" of Yellowstone Lake, right next to the "thumb" or West Thumb.
(on the Firehole River just south of the junction of
the Firehole and the Madison)Named long before 1870. Name taken from the
(eastern Yellowstone, flowing north toward the Madison)Name
dates back to 1830. "Firehole" and "Burnt Hole" long used as names to describe
the river and the geyser basins along them. The term "Hole" is an old name
used to describe open valleys or parks among the mountains. Often "holes"
referred to one of these areas in which a prominent trapper or person of
that era used to claim as his own. The term "fire" arises from the vast
thermal activity of the area.
(northwestern Yellowstone, southwest of Mammoth Hot Springs)Named
by the United States Geological Survey in 1885 for the Gallatin River of
which it is the source.
(river flowing out of northwestern corner of Yellowstone)Named
in 1805 by Lewis and Clark. Named for Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the
Treasury under President Thomas Jefferson.
(river flowing out the north entrance of the Park, north
of Mammoth Hot Springs)Named long before 1870 and sometime after 1831.
Named for Johnson Gardner, a trapper of the American Fur Company. In 1831
or 1832, Gardner began trapping in what became known as Gardner's Hole.
The river took the name from the valley. The name "Gardiner", the spelling
of which is applied to the town of Gardiner, MT, in that area, also refers
to this man but was a misspelling that appeared first in the Washburn Expedition
of 1870. Apparently, the name was known before then. In years prior to
1870, prospectors called the river Warm Spring Creek, for the warm springs
(notably the "Boiling River")which flow into the river. Chittenden was
not aware of Johnson Gardner's spelling, and refers to both the river and
the town as "Gardiner". However, the correct name of the river is Gardner
while the town is still spelled "Gardiner." (primary source for this is
from Aubrey Haines, with some Chittenden).
(eastern Yellowstone, flowing southwest into Madison
River)Named by United States Geological Survey in 1872. Named for General
John Gibbon, who first explored it. Gibbon Falls also rests on this river,
named for the river.
(southern Yellowstone, just east of Mt. Sheridan)Present
form of name dates back to Captain Barlow in 1871, but name derives from
a much earlier date. Controversy exists as to what the proper spelling
of the name of the lake should be, and to whom or what the name refers.
Hayden said, "Long known to the hunters of the region as Heart Lake." Chittenden
believes the lake was named after an old hunter by the name of Hart Hunney
who apparently used to trade in that area. Barlow apparently thought the
name of the lake referred to its shape. Chittenden does not think it resembles
a heart at all; however in reality, it does have a vague resemblance to
a heart, although Chittenden is right in saying that nearby Lewis Lake
looks more like a heart than Heart Lake. In any event, the name dates before
Barlow, and both spellings of the lake appear throughout the park history,
with "Heart" becoming the most dominant.
Hell Roaring Creek
(north central Yellowstone, northwest of Tower Junction)Named
in 1867 by a prospecting party led by Lou Anderson. Named for a description
of the sound of the river given by one of the prospectors by the name of
(in Idaho, west of Yellowstone)Named long before 1870.
Named for Andrew Henry, a famous fur trapper, who built a trading post
in that area in 1809.
(in southwestern Yellowstone, near the southern boundary)Named
in 1878 by the United States Geological Survey. Named for Rudolph Hering,
a topographer with the Snake River Division of the Hayden Expedition of
(northern Yellowstone, south of Mammoth Hot Springs)Named
in 1878 by the United States Geological Survey. Named for the Bannock Indians,
for whom along part of this creek, the Great Bannock Trail passed.
(just north of the northern end of Yellowstone Lake)Named
in 1880 by Philetus Norris. Apparently, it was an ancient, frequently used
campground by Indians. Norris says, "My favorite camp on Yellowstone Lake
(and it evidently has been a favorite one for the Indian) has ever been
upon the grove-dotted bluff, elevated thirty or forty feet above the lake,
directly fronting Indian Pond."
(in southern Yellowstone, on the Continental Divide,
on Craig Pass between Old Faithful and West Thumb)Named in 1893 by N.P.R.R.
(?, Chittenden does not account for abbreviation) for Isabel Jelke, a tourist
from Cincinnati. I heard a humorous joke regarding the name of Isa Lake,
which is entirely false. Isa Lake is a very small body of water. The story
goes that a couple early trappers came upon it and wondered, "Is it er
pond, or is it er lake?" when all of the sudden the lake rose up and said,
"I's a lake," and so the name has stood ever since.
(in Northern Grand Teton National Park)Date of its naming
unknown. Named for David Jackson, a noted mountaineer and one of the first
three partners of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. John Colter discovered
the lake during the Lewis and Clark Expedition and was named Lake Biddle,
honoring Lewis Biddle, the person who gave the first authentic journal
of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the world. However, that name obviously
did not stick.
(southern Grand Teton National Park, impressively resting
under the group of mountains upon which the Grand Teton towers)Named in
1872 by the United States Geological Survey for the wife of Richard Leigh
who was a Shoshone Indian.
(eastern Yellowstone, flowing from the Absaroka range
in the proximity of the East Entrance)Named in 1880 by Philetus Norris.
Named for Captain W. A. Jones (later Lt. Col.) of the Corps of Engineers.
Jones was the first person to explore the area, was a leader of an expedition
through the park in 1873, and was an early pioneer in the road system of
(just south of Old Faithful)Named in 1881 by Philetus
Norris for the son of an ex-Governor of Wyoming named John W. Hoyt, who
accompanied his father on a trip to the park in 1881. The boy was only
twelve at the time; and in honor of his bravery and toil through the region,
Norris named the cascade after him.
(northeastern Yellowstone, flowing into the Yellowstone
from the northeast corner of the park)Named in 1885 by the United States
Geological Survey. Named for L.Q.C. Lamar, Secretary of the Interior during
the first Grover Cleveland administration. Until that time, and for some
time after by the locals, the river was called "the East Fork of the Yellowstone
River" because it was the east fork of that river.
(in Grand Teton National Park, on the southern end of
Jackson Lake)Named in 1872 by the United States Geological Survey. Named
for Richard Leigh, or "Beaver Dick." Richard Leigh was a famous hunter,
trapper, and guide in the Teton Range. "Beaver Dick," interestingly enough,
originated not because Leigh was an expert beaver trapper but because his
two front teeth stuck out like a beaver. So, the Indians called Leigh "The
(southern Yellowstone southeast of Shoshone Lake)Named
in 1872 by the United States Geological Survey. Named for Captain Merriweather
Lewis, of "Lewis and Clark" fame. Bradley had this to say about the naming:"As
it had no name, so far as we could ascertain, we decided to call it Lewis
Lake, in memory of that gallant explorer Captain Merriweather Lewis. The
south fork of the Columbia, which was to have perpetuated his name, has
reverted to its Indian title Shoshone, and is commonly known by that name,
or its translation, Snake River. As this lake lies near the head of one
of the principal forks of that stream, it may not be inappropriately called
(southern Yellowstone flowing south out the South Entrance)Named
in 1872 by the United States Geological Survey after Lewis Lake, its source.
(See Lewis Lake)
(west of West Thumb)Named in 1885 by the United States
Geological Survey. It is so named because it has no apparent outlet and
is hidden a bit by the surrounding hills. Chittenden thinks that Norris
called this lake "Two-Ocean Pond."
(southwestern Yellowstone, west of Shoshone Lake)Named
in 1872 by the United States Geological Survey. Named for the Madison River
of which it is the source. Originally, Madison Lake was the name given
to Lake Shoshone, and it is to that "Madison Lake" to which the Act of
Dedication makes mention.
(western Yellowstone flowing out the west entrance of
the park)Named in 1805 by Lewis and Clark. Named for James Madison, then
Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson, later fourth President of the
United States, "father of the Constitution." The Madison River is a large
river flowing well outside the park boundaries.
(central Yellowstone)Named in 1873 by a tourist party.
Named because of the circumstances recorded by Rev. E. J. Stanley, a member
of the party, in his book Rambles in Wonderland: "We passed along
the bank of a lovely little lakelet, sleeping in seclusion in the shade
of towering evergreens, by which it is sheltered from the roaring tempests.
It is near the divide and on its pebbly shore some members of our party
unfurled the Stars and Stripes, and christened it Mary's Lake, in honor
of Miss Clark, a young lady belonging to our party."
(east of Yellowstone's East Entrance)Named in 1881 by
Philetus Norris for Major Julius W. Mason, commander of Wyoming Governor
John W. Hoyt's escort. Hoyt was making a reconnaissance for a wagon road
to the Park in 1881.
(just south of Calfee Creek in northeastern Yellowstone)Named
in 1880 by Philetus Norris. Named for a man named Miller, who apparently
was with or in contact with Norris in 1880. Miller apparently recognized
the creek bearing his name (Miller's first name is unknown) as one he had
descended in retreating from Indians in 1870.
Nez Perce Creek
(central Yellowstone flowing into the Firehole River)Named
in 1878 by the United States Geological Survey. Named for the Nez Perce
Indians who passed through the park on their tragic flight from the army
in 1877. The creek had been called the East Fork of the Firehole, and had
been named "Hayden's Fork" by Professor Bradley of the U.S.G.S. in 1872.(a
link to a short history of the Nez Perce in Yellowstone will be made available
(south of the southern boundary, east of the Teton Range)Named
in 1873 by Captain W. A. Jones. Named because it flows toward the Pacific
Ocean from Two Ocean Pass.
(eastern Yellowstone flowing north out the north end
of Yellowstone Lake)Named in 1864 by a prospecting party led by Adam "Horn
Miller. John C. Davis, a prospector with the party and a man who had been
with Walter De Lacy the year before, describes the naming: "We camped on
this creek, and noticed several large birds which appeared to be wild geese.
I shot one, which managed to fly out some distance in the lake before it
fell. I swam out after it, and became very much exhausted before I reached
it. It looked as if it might be good to eat so I skinned it, and then the
boys concluded it would hardly do. I hung the pelican--for that was what
it was--on a tree, and it was found, afterward by Miller, who came with
his party.(Haines used as primary source, as Chittenden thought the origin
came from the Washburn Expedition, but did not know.)
(in southwestern Yellowstone on the park's southern boundary)Named
in 1885 by the United States Geological Survey. Named for the rainbow-appearance
of the falls which total three.
(northern Yellowstone, east of Mammoth Hot Springs, near
Mt. Everts)Named in 1878 by the United States Geological Survey. It had
been supposed that Truman Everts had been found on this creek by Jack Baronett
in 1870 after being lost for a month from the Washburn Expedition. (see
(a few miles south of Grant Village)Named in 1872 by
the United States Geological Survey. Professor Bradley had these words
to say about the "riddle" of Riddle Lake:"'Lake Riddle' is a fugitive name,
which has been located at several places, but nowhere permanently. It is
supposed to have been used originally to designate the mythical lake, among
the mountains, whence, according to the hunters, water flowed to both oceans.
I have agreed to Mr. Hering's proposal to attach the name to this lake,
which is directly upon the divide at a point where the waters of the two
oceans start so nearly together, and thus to solve the unsolved 'riddle'
of the 'two-ocean water.' A year later Captain Jones found just such a
body of water (Two Ocean Pass).
(western Yellowstone, flowing east into the Firehole
River)Named in 1872 by the United States Geological Survey. Named because
two geysers along the stream appeared to be guarding the Upper Valley,
and so the creek took its name from the appearance of the two geysers.
(southern Yellowstone, south of Craig Pass and Old Faithful)Named
in 1872 by the United States Geological Survey. Named for the Shoshone
River (or Snake River, which is now its permanent name), of which it is
the source. Originally, Walter De Lacy, a prospector, named the Lake after
himself after coming through the area in 1863. De Lacy had correctly noted
that the lake was on the western side of the Continental Divide. The Washburn
Expedition apparently named in Washburn Lake. In 1871, Ferdinand Hayden
renamed the lake, Madison Lake, after incorrectly surmising that it was
the source of the Madison River, which is on the eastern side of the Divide.
Shoshone Lake is the Madison Lake that appears in the Act
of Dedication. In 1872, the U.S.G.S. determined the correct drainage
of the river, thus vindicating De Lacy's earlier claim.
(east of Yellowstone, road to East Entrance flows through
a pass along this river)Named after 1895. Named for the Shoshone Indians
who inhabited the Absaroka Mountains through which the river passes. For
years, the river was known as the Stinkingwater. It received its original
name possibly from Indian usage, referring to a stinking hot spring near
the junction of the principal forks of the river. John Colter referred
to it as "Stinkingwater" after his journeys in 1807-8. Lewis and Clark
were aware of "Stinkingwater" before in 1805 when they gave a river near
that locality the name of "Stinking Cabin Creek." Scholarship has also
suggested that the name may have originated with trappers who may have
been in that region before Lewis and Clark (who never actually saw the
river). Clearly, the unappealing nature of "Stinkingwater" led to the more
pristine "Shoshone" which it now is called. (Haines also used as a source).
(flows south through southern Yellowstone and Grand Teton
National Park)Named in 1805 by Lewis and Clark. One of the legendary rivers
of the West. Large river named for the Snake, or Shoshone--which means
Snake--Indians, who dwelt in the valley of the river. The river also has
snake-like characteristics, but the shape of the river has nothing to do
with its name.
Soda Butte Creek
(northeastern Yellowstone)Named probably by miners prior
to 1870. Named for an extinct geyser (named Soda Butte) near the mouth
of the stream.
(southern Yellowstone, south of Grant Village, outlet
of Riddle Lake)Named in 1878 by the United States Geological Survey. So
named because it is the "solution" of the "riddle" concerning Riddle Lake
(see Riddle Lake).
(just northeast of Canyon Village)Named in 1878 by the
United States Geological Survey. Named for the characteristic sulphur content
and smell of the creek. In the local area, for years, the name was also
applied to a creek which flowed from the hot springs of Sulphur Mountain.
(southern Yellowstone, flowing west into Heart Lake)Named
in 1885 by the United States Geological Survey. Named because the 1885
exploration was surprised to find that the course of the creek was quite
different than earlier explorations had indicated.
(western Yellowstone, in the Lower Geyser Basin)Named
in 1885 by the United States Geological Survey. It is characteristic of
this creek which is a hot water stream flowing through several intertwined
(flows out the southeastern corner of Yellowstone)Named
in 1885 by the United States Geological Survey. The "thoroughfare" refers
to the easy route it offers through the Absaroka Range.
(northern Yellowstone, flowing into the Yellowstone River
from Tower Fall)Named in 1870 by the Washburn Expedition. Named with Tower
Fall.(see Tower Fall).
(northern Yellowstone, east of Tower Junction)Named in
1870 by the Washburn Expedition. Named for the tower-like features which
surround the falls. Nathaniel Pitt Langford wrote this about the naming:
"In camp to-day several names were proposed for the creek and fall, and
after much discussion the name 'Minaret' was selected. Later, this evening,
this decision has been reconsidered, and we have decided to substitute
the name 'Tower' for 'Minaret,' and call it 'Tower Fall.'" Langford, then
has this amusing story to tell about the name change: "At the outset of
our journey we had agreed that we would not give to any object of interest
which we might discover the name of any of our party nor of our friends.
This rule was to be religously observed. While in camp on Sunday, August
28th, on the bank of this creek, it was suggested that we select a name
for the creek and fall. Walter Trumbull suggested 'Minaret Creek' and 'Minaret
Fall.' Mr. Hauser suggested 'Tower Creek' and 'Tower Fall.' After some
discussion a vote was taken, and by a small majority the name "Minaret"
was decided upon. During the following evening Mr. Hauser stated with great
seriousness that we had violated the agreement made relative to naming
objects for our friends. He said that the well known Southern family--the
Rhetts--lived in St. Louis, and that they had a most charming and accomplished
daughter named 'Minnie.' He said that this daughter was a sweetheart of
Trumbull, who had proposed the name--her name--'Minnie Rhett'--and that
we had unwittingly given to the fall and creek the name of this sweetheart
of Mr. Trumbull. Mr. Trumbull indignantly denied the truth of Hauser's
statement, and Hauser as determinedly insisted that it was the truth, and
the vote was therefore reconsidered, and by a substantial majority it was
decided to substitute the name 'Tower' for 'Minaret.' Later, and when it
was too late to recall or reverse the action of our party, it was surmised
that Hauser himself had a sweetheart in St. Louis, a Miss Tower. Some of
our party, Walter Trumbull especially, always insisted that such was the
case. The weight of the testimony was so evenly balanced I shall hesitate
long before I believe either side of this part of the story." Obviously,
the rule about not naming features after people was soon broken repeatedly,
initially by the naming of Mt. Washburn. (Langford used as source).
(off the southeast finger of Yellowstone Lake)Named in
1873 by Captain W. A. Jones for an elk trail along it.
(southeastern Yellowstone, flows into Yellowstone River,
southwest of Eagle Peak)Named in 1885 by the United States Geological Survey.
Named for the great number of beavers along it.
(central Yellowstone, flowing into Alum Creek)Named in
1872 by the United States Geological Survey. Named for the large number
of violets growing along its banks.
(central Yellowstone, between Norris Geyser Basin and
Canyon Village)Named in 1886 by E. Lamartine, then time foreman in charge
of government work in the Park. Named for the wife of Charles Gibson, President
of the Yellowstone Park Association.
(southern Yellowstone, south of Riddle Lake)Named in
1878 by the United States Geological Survey. Apparently named for the prevalence
of hot springs along it, reminiscent of a witch's brew.
(consisting of both the 308 foot Lower Fall and the 109
foot Upper Fall forming the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Named after
the river. (See Historic
Origin of Yellowstone as a Place Name).
(large lake covering much of eastern and southeastern
Yellowstone)Named in the early nineteenth century for the river which flows
through it. This lake appeared on the map showing John Colter's 1807-8
route through Yellowstone as Lake Eustis, in honor of President James Madison's
Secretary of War, John Eustis. In the trapping era, it appeared sometimes
as Sublette Lake after a fur trapper named William Sublette. Sometimes,
it was called "Riddle Lake" (see Riddle
Lake). However, it had received popular usage
in its current name early in its history.(See Historic
Origin of Yellowstone as a Place Name ).