The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The first time I saw the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone was the summer before Ed and I got married. I had never seen the Grand Canyon in Arizona before, and while the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone was smaller than the Grand Canyon everyone knows about, it was still very impressive. Now that I have seen the Grand Canyon in Arizona, which is so massive and amazing that it defies description, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is still so impressive and so amazing that it, too, defies description! But I will try to describe it for you the best that I can.


The Yellowstone River flows through the canyon. The canyon has two waterfalls; the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls.

Upper Falls
Upper Falls

The Lower Falls, the highest in the park, gets a lot of attention and is photographed often. There are a lot of trails to view both of the falls. One of the most strenuous trail and yet rewarding is Uncle Tom’s Trail. It’s actually a long staircase that goes down the side of a cliff to view the falls. Just like all of Yellowstone’s trails, going down is easy; climbing back up is hard!

Lower Falls

To access Uncle Tom’s Trail, we were walking on the South Rim of the canyon. The next day, we hiked along the North Rim, and we could see Uncle Tom’s Trail on the side of the cliff.

Uncle Tom's Trail; look carefully, and you'll see steps going down the cliff with a platform at the bottom left.
Uncle Tom’s Trail; look carefully, and you’ll see steps going down the cliff with a platform at the bottom left.

When looking at the canyon from the North Rim at Grand View, the cliffs are so yellow, you are positive that is how Yellowstone National Park got its name. But you would be wrong! A ranger told us that Yellowstone is named after the Yellowstone River, which is named after yellow cliffs in Billings, Montana, a couple hundred miles away. Hmm.


While on the North Rim, we also spotted an osprey’s nest, perched on top of a rock pinnacle. We watched the osprey for a long time through our binoculars. We don’t own a camera with a good enough lens to capture the osprey, so I’ll show you this picture instead:


We stayed in a cabin in Canyon Lodge for two nights, and each night we were so happy to get to our cabin so we could fall into bed! The cabins are very basic; no TV, no phone, and no wifi. But they are very clean and very comfortable, so staying in the park suits us just fine!


Keep up with our road trip:

The Great American Road Trip: Badlands National Park
Leaving the Badlands and Entering Wind Cave National Park
Not National Parks: Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Tower
Driving Through Wyoming
Struggling Upward: Climbing Mount Washburn
Downs and Ups: Tower Fall


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6 Replies to “The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone”

  1. I don’t mind climbing a mountain, but I hate climbing steps. For some reason I get extra tired and then I get more afraid because I loose my depth perception when tired.

    That cabin looks lovely. And as long as the beds are comfy and the shower is working…
    Mara recently posted…HolidayMy Profile

  2. The first time I saw it was at dusk. I’ll never forget that. Oh, it took my breath away.
    I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon, though.. not the one in Arizona.
    I would have thought the same thing about how Yellowstone got its name! I’m sure I have.
    Tamara recently posted…Who Will Save Your Soul?My Profile

  3. Your post is just great. We did not do the trail, bad knees. We thought the grand canyon was beautiful!!! Our bed was in a tent and was an air mattress. It was June and it was still chilly. Just made the whole Yellowstone adventure even more exciting.
    Janice Adcock recently posted…I Was Doing Fine and ThenMy Profile

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