If you’re a fan of waterfalls like I am – the taller and splashier the better – then one place you need to go is Yellowstone National Park. In addition to the abundance of wildlife such as bison, bears and wolves and the copious quantity of hot springs, there are also some lovely waterfalls.
Your first stop should be the “Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone”, a large (1000 feet in depth) and long (20 miles) chasm created by rocks weakened by hydro-thermal activity further eroded by the Yellowstone River.
There are two falls here to view: The Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. Go early, as the viewpoints overlooking these falls will get crowded by noon, but in the morning they were nearly deserted.
Entering the area, you arrive at the Brink of the Upper Falls outlook first. You can stand at the top of the falls and watch the water rush over and feel the spray. The Falls is 109 feet high and standing atop it you can really get a sense at the water raging over the falls.
I would recommend going down South Rim Drive first. The viewpoints were more
picturesque than on the North Rim Drive. We started with the view of the Upper Falls from Uncle Tom’s Point. It’s the best view of the Upper Falls.
From this viewpoint, it’s a short walk along the South Rim Trail to the start of Uncle Tom’s Trail. Only 328 steps (500 feet) down the canyon – about ¾ of the way – to the foot of the Lower Falls! Lower Falls is 308 feet of raging water.
328 steps is doable, but at an elevation 8000 feet? Try it only if you’re in good shape, because if you’re lucky there is a great view of a rainbow arcing over the spray at the bottom of the lower falls.
The way down wasn’t difficult, but back up was leg-numbing. I rested every 25 steps or so to catch my breath, which is difficult to do at this altitude, but my legs felt like jelly. I wasn’t the only one suffering the way back to the top. The view with the rainbow was worth it though.
The remaining lookouts have views of the canyon and Lower Falls. On the South Rim, Artist’s Point had a great view of the canyon and Lower Falls. On the North Rim, Lookout Point, Grand View and Inspiration Point (not inspiring) all had views of the Lower Falls and/or the canyon. At Lookout Point, a short walk brings you to Red Rock point with the closest full view of the Lower Falls.
You can easily do both Rims in a day, unless you’re really into hiking. You can stay close to the Grand Canyon at Canyon Village in Yellowstone.
A couple other falls we found during our explorations were worth a stop at their overlooks:
The easy pathway to this falls was next to a convenience store where we stopped for picnic lunch items on our way to the Lamarr Valley (a couple miles south of Roosevelt). Tower Falls is 132 feet high. The name “Tower” is derived from the towering volcanic formations surrounding the falls. (per Yellowstone.net)
We discovered this falls on the road to Mammoth Hot
Springs while trailing a couple of bison lumbering at a slow pace down the middle of the road. We pulled off into a lookout For Undine Falls to wait them out. This falls is 60 feet high.
These are just a few of the waterfalls in the park that you can check out!