One of Yellowstone National Park’s classic landmarks, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone extends roughly 20 miles from Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area and drops 1,200 feet, at its deepest point, to the Yellowstone River. Walk the north rim of this immense gorge on this spectacular 6.4-mile out-and-back that passes numerous overlooks and in-your-face views of Upper and Lower Falls.
The route starts at Inspiration Point, a natural outcrop that offers views into the inner depths of the canyon. Leave the parking lot and follow the path as it briefly travels northwest and enters the woods. The trail varies from paved sidewalks to spongy, ash-like rock as it follows the contours of the canyon’s edge and passes a series of popular viewpoints, including the aptly-named Grandview Point and Lookout Point.
After 2.2 miles, turn left at the 3-way intersection and descend a set of steep switchbacks that lead to a platform overlooking Lower Falls, the biggest waterfall in Yellowstone. From this dizzying vantage point at the brink of the falls, you’ll feel the full force of the Yellowstone River as it plunges 308 feet into the depths of the canyon.
Next, climb back up the switchbacks and turn left for the 0.7-mile stretch to Upper Falls. Although this 109-foot waterfall is the baby brother to Lower Falls, it still puts on an impressive show. Soak up more views of the Yellowstone River plummeting into the canyon, then turn around and follow the same route back to the Inspiration Point parking area.
MORE PARK INFO: Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-7381; nps.gov/yell/.
-Mapped by Jeff Chow