Did you know that Yellowstone National Park has its own “Grand Canyon”?

The canyon carved by Yellowstone river just a few miles northwest of Yellowstone Lake, known as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, is one of the most popular attractions in the park. It is famous for its hiking spots and breathtaking canyon views.

Over 20 miles long and over 1000 feet deep, it may not be nearly as wide or deep as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but with its distinctive yellow colored rocks and the Upper and Lower Falls certainly make it a wonderfully unique attraction in Yellowstone. Besides, it will give you a change of scenery from geysers and hot springs that you can’t get enough of in Yellowstone.

There is a beautiful visitor center and a lodge housing several dining facilities in nearby Canyon Village. Although there are guided bus tours offered by park operators at an additional cost, we recommend doing the hiking trails on foot instead to get the most of the canyon experience.

Route from West Yellowstone to Grand Canyon
Route from West Yellowstone to Grand Canyon

Hiking Trails in Grand Canyon

There are two major hiking trails in the Grand Canyon – the North Rim Trail and the South Rim Trail. Both of these are relatively easy in difficulty. If you’re comfortable with a little bit of strenuous activity, Brink of Lower Falls Trail and Brink of the Upper Falls Trail are both must do’s. Definitely include them in your plan!

North Rim Trail

The easiest way to view the north rim is to park on the North Rim Drive just off of Cascade Lodge. From there, its an easy walk along the rim of the canyon with four viewpoints – Red Rock Point, Lookout Point, Grand View Point and Inspiration Point. You can walk all the way to Inspiration Point which is about 1.8 miles. Alternatively, you can turn around at Grand View Point, and then drive to Inspiration Point and park there.

Inspiration Point, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Yellowstone River and the yellow canyon carved by it over millions of years, view from North Rim Trail, Inspiration Point
Yellowstone River and the yellow canyon carved by it over millions of years
Inspiration Point in North Rim Trail, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Lower Yellowstone Falls
Lower Yellowstone Falls, North Rim Trail
Yellowstone river flowing down the lower falls
Yellowstone river flowing down the lower falls

Brink of the Falls Trails

There are two separate trails that take you to the brink of each of the Upper and Lower Falls. We did the Brink of the Lower Falls Trail as the Brink of Upper Falls Trail was closed due to rock slides. The hike is a bit strenuous but is a very short 0.8 miles, making it very doable for all skill levels. We highly recommend doing this as it takes you right to the edge of the roaring waterfall and still be completely safe behind the railings. Look at the pictures below to see for yourself how close you can get to the falls!

Rainbow formed due to mist from Lower Yellowstone Falls
This is the view of the Lower Yellowstone Falls from the Brink of the Lower Falls Trail viewpoint. You literally get within feet of the roaring waterfall!
Lower Yellowstone Falls and crowds at the brink
Lower Yellowstone Falls from North Rim. See the people in top right of this picture? That’s how close you can get to the falls on the Brink of the Lower Falls Trail
View of Brink of Lower Yellowstone Falls from South Rim
Another view of Brink of Lower Falls Trail from South Rim

South Rim Trail

The South Rim Trail offers a slightly different view of the canyon and has two major viewpoints – the Upper Falls and Artists Point. With 2.5 miles round trip, the trail is mostly shaded with a moderate elevation change. It ends at Artist’s Point which is one of the best places to view sunset in the Grand Canyon. Do this trail in the late afternoon so you get to Artists Point just in time for a spectacular sunset!

Yellowstone Falls from South Rim Trail
Yellowstone Falls from South Rim Trail
Panoramic view of Grand Canyon Yellowstone from North Rim
Panoramic view of Grand Canyon Yellowstone from South Rim
South Rim Trail in Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
South Rim Trail is partially paved and mostly shaded making it a pleasant walk along the rim of the canyon with spectacular views
Hiking the south rim of Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Hiking the south rim of Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
View of Lower Yellowstone Falls from South Rim
View of Lower Yellowstone Falls from South Rim Trail
Vieew of Yellowstone Falls and River from Artists Point
View of Yellowstone Falls and River at around sunset from Artists Point, South Rim Trail
Upper Falls, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Upper Falls, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

You can easily spend an entire day hiking the Rim trails and enjoying the breathtaking scenery along the way. But if you’re short on time and can’t do both rims, we recommend doing the North Rim Trail and Brink of the Lower Falls.

Share your experience

If you have been to Canyon Village in Yellowstone, let us know about your experience in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!

If you are planning on visiting Yellowstone, check out our day by day itinerary of our trip.

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