You can’t get more up-close-and-personal to Yellowstone’s famous Lower Falls than on these three stunning hikes.
All these trails are steep and strenuous—you’ll definitely get your workout! But none are long, and your efforts reward you with outstanding views of the Lower Falls and Canyon. Two of them get you close enough to feel the spray. It’s amazing.
Take a look at the photos and maps below (the red “X” marks the spot where each photo was taken).
My husband, Nick, at the brink of Yellowstone’s Lower Falls.
Brink of the Lower Falls (North Rim)
There’s no better way to fully experience the power of Yellowstone’s Lower Falls than the Brink Trail. The Lower Falls dumps up to 635,000 gallons of water per second at peak run-off. We visited in June on both our 2011 and 2017 trips, so the river was high and the Falls were breathtaking.
This extremely popular trail takes you to a fenced platform right where the water dumps 308 feet into the Canyon below. It’s awesome to see, hear and feel! You’ll find the trailhead at the beginning of North Rim Drive (a one-way road).
Yellowstone’s 308-foot Lower Falls from Red Rock Point
Red Rock Point (North Rim)
As long as you’re on the North Rim, hike or drive to the Lookout Point area and take the Red Rock Point Trail down to a gorgeous overlook of the Lower Falls. You’re “inside” the Canyon here, too. This is your best view of the entire Falls.
This is the least crowded of the three trails—at least it was when we were there! Lookout Point is nice, too, but the Red Rock Trail gets you down into the Canyon for a closer, gorgeous view.
Uncle Tom’s Trail (South Rim)
Drive over to the South Rim, and you can access Uncle Tom’s Trail. In the old days this was nothing more than a rope ladder! Thankfully, it’s now a steel staircase bolted into the side of the Canyon.
It’s not for the faint-of-heart—walking down an open staircase a couple hundred feet along the side of a steep cliff into the Canyon! But the proximity you get to the Falls is well worth it.
On busy days and times you’ll need to wait your turn to get to the final platform at the bottom of the stairs. That’s well worth it, too.
I think I’ve decided the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is my favorite part of this amazing National Park, and these hikes are why.
Seeing the Canyon and Falls from the parking lots and high overlooks are great…but getting right down to eye level is unequaled.
(Maps courtesy of the National Park Service. Edits in red are mine.)
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Sharon is the founder and administrator of Active Outdoor Women. She loves getting outside in beautiful places to hike, paddle, camp, snowshoe, ski, ride—and encouraging others to come along! Besides maintaining AOW and her other blog, Twin Cities Outdoors, Sharon writes and designs websites, newsletters, blogs, emails and other marketing tools for clients.