You are planning a visit to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and don’t know here to start? Worry no longer, hopefully this little guide will help you chose the best spots to visit.
We have pulled together a small narrative and photos from our visit to Gran Canyon of Yellowstone that will hopefully help you find the best spots to view Upper and Lower Falls. A map of the canyon is at the end of the blog post for an overview.
The Grand Canyon is split into the North Rim and the South Rim, which logically is north and south of the canyon. There are several spots on each side where you can observe the Upper and Lower Fall.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – South Rim
On the South Rim Drive you will find viewing points for both Upper Falls and Lower Falls. The Lower Falls can be seen from Artist Point and Uncle Tom’s Trail and the Upper Falls can be seen from the Upper Fall Viewing Area.
Artist point is probably the most famous viewpoint in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. You will find many photographers lined up here every morning ready to catch the sunrise over the Lower Falls. The canyon is known for its pastel colours of orange, pink and yellow.
View of Yellowstone’s Lower Falls from Artist Point (06:43 AM)
Uncle Tom’s Trail
Climb down the 328 steps on Uncle Tom’s Trail from the top of Grand Canyon to get a close up view of the Lower Falls. When you walk down think about the visitors who followed Uncle Tom down over a 100 years ago with the aid of ropes and ladders only.
There is usually a bonus for you when you get to the bottom – a rainbow in the splash and mist of the waterfall. And then the only thing remaining is to climb up all those steps again, but no worry – there are plenty of benches to rest on on your way up.
328 steps down
Lower Falls (09:46 AM)
View of the Grand Canyon from Uncle Tom’s Train (10:12 AM)
Read more about Uncle Tom’s Trail on Yellowstone Parks Webpages.
Upper Falls viewing area
After you have climbed the steps back up to the top of Grand Canyon you’ll find the viewing point for the Upper Falls by following the trail about 500 meters towards the west. The viewing area is just across the parking lot from where Uncle Tom’s Trail starts.
Upper Falls from viewing area just west of Uncle Tom’s Trail (10:43 AM)
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – North Rim
The North Rim Drive is a one-way drive taking you to the Lower Falls Lookout point and Red Rock Point Trail offering excellent views of the Lower Falls. Continuing along the road you’ll get to Grandview Point and Inspiration Point with some great perspectives of the shapes and colours of the canyon.
Lower Falls Lookout point
The Lookout Point offers easiest access view of Lower Falls on the North Rim. The Lower Falls is the largest waterfall in the park with its 94 meters.
Did you know this is the spot where Thomas Moran painted the Lower Falls to inspire Congress in 1872? The painting played a crucial role in convincing the Congress make Yellowstone the first national park.
View of Lower Falls from the Lookout Point on the North Rim (07:11 AM)
Red Rock Point Trail
From the Lower Falls Lookout Point you can take the steps down Red Rock Point Trail to get further down the canyon. The trail ends at a viewing platform overlooking the Lower Falls.
Viewing platfrom overlooking Lower Falls
Back up to the Lookout Point seen on top of the peak in the background
It is a short walk from the Lookout Point to the Grandview Point. This walk will offer great views of the canyon as you walk close to the canyon rim. Stay on the designated trails!
Looking at the shapes of the canyon makes you wonder how it was made. According to the books it isn’t fully understood, but two factors seems to have been involved. First an ancient geyser basin that with its heat made the rock softer and more brittle. The rock was made easier to erode, when a large ice dam made by glaciers broke and a flood of water and ice came flushing though the canyon.
Isn’t it amazing what scientist can find out?
View of the Grand Canyon on Yellowstone from The Grandview Point
The last stop on the North Rim Drive is a small side trip to the Inspiration Point. At this spot the canyon widens and transitions from pastel pinks to green.
The pastel colours of the canyon is believed to come from the ancient geyser basin we already talked about. The heat did not only make the rock more prone to erosion by making it brittle, it also chemically altered the iron components contributing the colour display we see today.
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from Inspiration Point
This map can be downloaded for free from Yellowstonepark.com