Yellowstone National Park: Ribbon Lake and Silver Cord Cascade via Artist Point

Trace the rim of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on this 4.8-mile out-and-back that features a plummeting waterfall, a small wooded lake, and five-star, across-the-expanse views.
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Trace the rim of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on this 4.8-mile out-and-back that features a plummeting waterfall, a small wooded lake, and five-star, across-the-expanse views.

Perfect as an easy overnighter or for families with young children, this short, 4.8-miler explores Yellowstone National Park's incredible backcountry sights on easy, well-maintained trails. From the Artist Point parking area, follow the paved trail along the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Numerous viewpoints dot the route, revealing the sheer, multi-colored walls of the canyon. At certain points, the sounds of the canyon-carving Yellowstone River can be heard in the distance.

Less than a mile in, the route veers south and enters the forest for a 0.3-mile stretch to another trail junction. Turn left and hike northeast through forest and meadows to the grassy banks of Ribbon Lake (several campsites are located around the lake). From here, continue hiking north to a side trail that leads to Silver Cord Cascade, a dizzying 1,200-foot waterfall and drops into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The hike finishes at a vantage point with more stunning views of the canyon. When you're ready, turn around follow the same route back to the trailhead.

PERMIT Overnight camping in Yellowstone National Park requires a backcountry permit. Check out the latest fees and more details at nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/backcountryhiking.htm

MORE PARK INFO Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-7381; nps.gov/yell/

-Mapped by Jason Kauffman

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 7.7

Waypoints

GRA001

Location: 44.7201337, -110.4797548

Leave Artist Point and the paved parking lot behind and head northeast along the edge of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. In 250 feet, pass the Artist Point overlook on the left.

GRA002

Location: 44.7208382, -110.4786187

The paved trail turns to dirt. Continue paralleling the canyon's edge.

GRA003

Location: 44.7206025, -110.4760534

Look downstream for incredible views of the sheer, multi-colored walls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

GRA004

Location: 44.7205739, -110.4735401

Take a break: Drop your pack and sit down to enjoy distant views into the more remote middle canyon. Ahead: Listen for the sounds of the canyon-carving Yellowstone River more than a thousand feet below.

GRA005

Location: 44.7203014, -110.4699004

Turn right @ 3-way junction, heading south. The trail enters rolling forests and leaves the canyon behind. Ahead, cross a short, wooden footbridge over a small inlet stream.

GRA006

Location: 44.7191541, -110.4696482

Keep a sharp eye out for moose (and mosquitoes) as you round an unnamed pond covered with lily pads.

GRA007

Location: 44.7168098, -110.4702705

Turn left @ Y-junction. Continue through the dense forest of lodgepole pine.

GRA008

Location: 44.7168657, -110.4667287

Briefly leave the forest behind as you pass through a small grassy meadow.

GRA009

Location: 44.7240749, -110.4515433

Formed from 2 small lakes, Ribbon Lake sits in a meadow rimmed by conifers and is a perfect overnight destination for families with young children (reservations required for campsites).

GRA010

Location: 44.7263731, -110.4498294

Turn left for a quick side trip to Silver Cord Cascade.

GRA011

Location: 44.7261006, -110.4502344

Peer out over sheer cliffs to catch a dizzying glimpse of Silver Cord Cascade. This striking waterfall plummets 1,200 feet into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and is thought to be the tallest waterfall in Wyoming. Return to Waypoint 10 and continue north.

GRA012

Location: 44.7270955, -110.4493069

Enjoy one last remarkable view of the massive Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Turn around and return to trailhead.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Location: 44.7208007, -110.4781616

A grand canyon indeed.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Location: 44.7205759, -110.4759514

More views into the heart of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Location: 44.7205435, -110.4734704

Enjoy the oranges, pinks, and reds of the canyon below the deep of green conifer forests above.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Location: 44.7201032, -110.4725021

Listen to Yellowstone River more than a thousand feet below.

Footbridge

Location: 44.7194933, -110.469836

A short footbridge over a small inlet stream.

Ribbon Lake

Location: 44.724052, -110.4514253

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Location: 44.7270934, -110.4492742

Enjoy views of the more seldom-visited portions of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.