The Yellowstone Grand Canyon isn't the same as the other bigger one in Arizona, and the part that most people photograph are the falls, but they will have another review of their own. This Grand Canyon is a bit more comprehensible for a mere human. The river has eaten away at the rock and eroded its way down to a canyon that can be 900 feet down and measures a half mile across. It is roughly 20 miles long - carved out by the Yellowstone River - it isn't the result of glaciation.
The red and yellow colors are caused when the schist in the rock is oxidized by the water and air - the canyon is rusting.
My pictures were taken on the south rim near Artists Point. The bus let us off and walked part way up.
It's not THE Grand Canyon, but the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the first large canyon on the Yellowstone River downstream from Yellowstone Falls. The canyon is up to 900 feet deep (275 m) and a half mile (0.8 km) in width. It is the result of erosion and was not caused by glaciers. The Yellowstone River begins south of the park, and travels more than 600 miles to North Dakota. It is the longest undammed river in the continental United States
The Upper Falls is 109 ft. high and can be seen from the Brink of the Upper Falls Trail and from Uncle Tom's Trail.
The Lower Falls is below upper falls, but it is taller than Upper Falls at 308 ft. high. It is taller than Niagra Falls. It can be seen from Lookout Point, Red Rock Point, Artist Point, Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, and from various points on the South Rim Trail. The volume of water flowing over the falls is the greatest in the spring when it can be as much as 63,500 gal/sec.
A third lesser known falls is Crystal Falls. It can be seen from the South Rim Trail just east of the Uncle Tom's area.
Unfortunately, you can't see both upper and lower falls at the same time.
My other tip on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone covers the sights of the north rim, while this one focuses on the south, where some of the best views are to be had. The best of all is from Artists’ Point at the far end of the road, which is one of the best places from which to appreciate the colours and the sheer scale of the canyon and spot ospreys; there’s also another excellent view from here of the Lower falls, and the overlooks are partially wheelchair accessible
We also planned to stop at and walk Uncle Tom’s Trail, which sounded great on the trail leaflet (“an unparalleled canyon and waterfall experience”) but were put off by torrential rain and a storm. Oh well, another time!
I've been to the Grand Canyon in Arizona and mentioned that words can't begin to explain the beauty, colors or sounds which you experience; you have to see it to believe it. Well I have to say the same thing with regards to this natural wonder...you've got to experience it for yourself.
Located only a few miles north of the Hayden Valley, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is approximately 20 miles long, with depths measuring 800 ft. to 1,200 ft. and widths measuring 1,500 ft. to 4,000 ft. Although noted for its spectacular coloring and rock formations, the main draw to this area are the waterfalls.
The falls are formed by the Yellowstone River as it erodes the softer, less resistant rock which it flows over. Both Upper Falls (with a height of 109 ft) and Lower Falls (with a height of 308 ft.) can be seen from various points on the north/south rim (pulled into the Artist's Point lookout and had a fantastic view of Lower Falls).
Here is another shot form the rim of this impressive canyon. The Canyon starts with 2 falls, known as upper and lower falls and eventually ends as the Yellowstone River winds its way out of the park, north of tower falls.
Perhaps the most picturesque area of the Yellowstone region is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The canyon is approximately 10,000 years old, 20 miles long, 1000 ft deep, and 2500 ft wide. Predominately made of Rhyolite, the canyon appears painted with deeps reds oranges and coppers. With the Yellowstone river, upper falls, and lower falls, it is not surprising that canyon is used by many artist as their inspiration
Although the canyon itself is breathtaking, many if it’s treasures are hidden within the colorful rock. Good eyes along with luck may allow you to enter another side of the canyon. Within the layers of rock look for wings and movement. Soaring over Yellowstone or perched high in their enormous five foot nests, live the osprey. The osprey are excellent fishers due to their excellent eyesight and speed. Since the 1980’s six to ten osprey nests have been seen in the canyon. So keep you eyes peeled and your lucky penny in hand, and maybe you will be able to see the osprey in action. Meadows and forests surround the canyon and offer habitat for other wildlife such as elk, moose, and bison
The North Rim Trail offers a fairly easy forested walk, opening to various views of the canyon, river, and its falls. The distance is about 3 miles one way, and since this is not a loop trail, unless someone drops you off at one end, and picks you up at the other end, you must turn around and walk back to your starting point, making the hike a little less than 6 miles. You do not, however, have to hike the entire trail, but could choose one of various starting points, and then walk as far as you like, turning around and returning when you wish.
If you plan to walk the trail from the south end, you will find the trail head at the South Rim Drive bridge (also called the Chittenden Bridge). If you begin at the bridge on the south end, the first half mile, which runs to the Upper Falls parking area, gives you beautiful views of the river as it approaches the canyon. The Upper Falls parking area, is therefore another location that you could start your hike from. From this parking lot the trail continues past Crystal Falls, which is located on Cascade Creek for another ½ mile to the Lower Falls Parking area. The trail goes over the top of this waterfalls. From this parking area you would continue another ½ mile north to Lookout Point, then another ¼ miles to Grandview Point, and from there finish your hike by walking another mile to Inspiration Point.
If you are walking it from the north end, the trail head is located at Inspiration Point, and you would simply walk the trail in reverse of my above description. When walking in this direction, the trail from Inspiration Point to Grand View Point runs through the forest, away from the rim of the canyon for a mile. For this reason, if you wish to shorten your hike, and not walk the entire trail, I would recommend cutting out this first portion of the north end. With the reduction of this one mile, you are actually cutting two miles off the round trip, shortening the hike to 4 miles.
This is a nice hike, and if you take a number of photographs, and stop at all the view points, I recommend that you plan a half day.
My first three photos were taken near the south section of the trail, and the last two are taken in the north area between Inspiration Point and Grand View Point.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is truly grand, plunging 1,000 feet to the Yellowstone River below. Inspiration Point is one of my favorite views of the canyon, even though you will not see a closeup view of the falls from this look out point. The Canyon itself is so incredible that it is well worth the stop, just to view it without the distraction of a full waterfall view. From the Upper Falls to the Tower Falls the canyon is about 20 miles long. Its depth ranges from 800 to 1,200 feet deep, and the width is 1,500 to 4,000 feet across. This canyon has been mentioned in Native American Indian lore and in accounts of early explorers who first saw this wondrous canyon. As you can imagine, many early people coming upon this huge canyon were not only awed by it, but also recognized that it was a significant barrier to their continued westward travel.
Following the second large drop at Lower Yellowstone Falls, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone starts to get serious – reaching a depth of 900-ft (275-m). Being a river erosion canyon, it has a width of only 0.5-mile (0.8-km). It is believed that much of the erosion is due to periodic major flooding in the past, such as when an ice dam that was blocking outflow from Yellowstone Lake let go many centuries ago.
We had not walked far beyond Lower Falls before noticing the very colourful effect the spray had on the nearby steep canyon wall, with lush green patches below areas of white caused by the abundant geological forces at work in Yellowstone. An hour after setting out on our hike, our trail converged with the car park at the end of the road paralleling the river. We took one last shot of the canyon ahead (2nd photo), looking past Artist Point on the right to the amazing hues of colours at distant Inspiration Point. We decided to call it quits then because we knew we had to drive back down through the Hayden Valley once more. We made a forced march along the side of this road with the sun beaming down until we reached our car park at the start of the hike.
If you like getting down into things, you cannot beat the stair trails to viewpoints deep in the canyon. We did the Uncle Tom Trail which drops three-quarters of the way into the canyon over 328 steps. There seemed to be even more steps than advertised and many people were huffing and puffing on their way back up. That said, it is a well worthwhile side trip. This trail has some history with “Uncle Tom” Richardson leading tours down it since 1900 though back in those days it involved a few rope ladders for good measure!
This was our favorite part of the canyon, offering a real close up to the Lower Falls and when we were there, a rainbow, perhaps a common thing with the right sun as the spray should be omnipresent.
Though many of the overlooks are car-accessible, the trails along the canyon's edge are relatively flat and quite pleasant. If you are at all able, you should park your car and walk from one viewpoint to the next. It is a far nicer way to visit this heavily congested area. To get decent photos, this is one area you need to be around noon. While it is named Grand Canyon, it is not so grand in a wide sense, but more so in a colorful one. Perhaps a better name would have been The Yellow Canyon of Yellowstone. At any rate, it is fairly narrow and quite deep so the best light is close to noon when the sun's rays shine down into and illuminates the sublimely colorful rock that makes the canyon so spectacular.
There are trails on both sides of the canyon and for those looking for some exercise or just some solitude from the masses at the more popular viewpoints, they are a great option. While many of the more far flung viewpoints offer great overviews of the canyon, they lack the stunning colors of the ones that draw everyone in. Some of the most scenic viewpoints are The Artist's Point on the South Rim and Lookout Point on the North Rim.
We had a great experience here our first stop though it was ill-timed for photos. We decided on a whim to head over late our first afternoon in the park and wound up running into the very nice couple we had met just a week earlier at Glacier National Park in Montana on the Iceberg Lake hike. That was another ill-timed hike in the rain but I guess our poor timings for photos turned out to be good ones for making some very dear friends.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is generally the biggest surprise to the first time park visitor. I know for me it was a revelation when I first saw it in 1994, not just for its beauty but for my not ever hearing of it. On my return trip in 2008, it was one of the things I looked forward to showing my wife most and it being one of the few promoted hiking areas in the park, it remains one of my favorites.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone may be far less grand than its big Arizona brother but it is still 20 miles long, 1000 feet deep, 2500 feet across and is estimated to be 10,000 years old. Forged by erosion rather than glacial activity, its bright yellow color is the result of hydrothermal alteration of the rhyolite that forms its steep walls. The iron compounds within the rhyolite are actually rusting before your very eyes, to different degrees depending on the presence of water within.
This is for me one of the great highlights of Yellowstone and is not to be missed. If you cannot make the time to go all round the canyon and see it from every angle, at least make it to Artist Point. The beauty of the site really does take you breath away (I know it's a cliché but never mind). Although there are some good views to be had from the North Rim, the South is so much better. On the South Rim there are two overlooks for Upper Falls giving good vistas to the Falls that tumble 33 metres down the cliff. From the left hand overlook, as you are looking at the falls, just on your right, look through the trees and you may spot Crystal Fall on the other side of the canyon. This is the only place from where you can it.
I LOVED the canyon!
There are two drives along the canyon, along the North Rim and along the South Rim. I started off with the North Rim, and left the car at the car park to go for a walk on the trail, which brings you to different viewpoints from where you can see the Lower Falls thundering down into the canyon.
There is also a trail right down to the brink of the Lower Falls, where you can stand right on top of the waterfall and see the Yellowstone River tumble over the edge of the cliff. The trail leads you down the steep canyon side in endless serpentines, and the way back up is very strenuous, but to stand just above that massive waterfall, to hear the thunder of the water, and to look across the canyon through a mist of spray was quite special and well worth the effort.
On the other side of the canyon, the South Rim, there is also a similar trail descending down the canyon from where you must be getting great views of the Lower Falls. However, this seems to be more of a boardwalk and looked a bit scary, so I gave that one a miss.
I did however go on to Artist's Point, and although I had already seen the Canyon from the other side, my jaw still dropped when all of a sudden the vista of the whole canyon opened up in front of me, with the focal point of the Lower Falls on the far side. In my opinion this is one of the most stunning views in all of Yellowstone, and you should go there early in the morning when you get the best sunlight conditions, and you might beat the crowds. That was my plan anyway, but even though I was there quite early I still only managed to arrive about 5 minutes before two busloads of tourists arrived and took over the viewpoint. Bad luck.
Thanks to the Yellowstone River, the park can show a deep and stunning canyonland, with planty of overlooks and terrific falls. Budget a day if you are willing to go out of the car at every overlook and take the path to the observation poin, if existing. I think we stopped at every overlook point in the Southern Rim but just few in the Northern (they are both amazing, decide also depending on the moment of the day). Paths are always walkable, steps are declared on the map and distances always very clear. From this point of view, Americans' skill in organizing is outstanding.