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 all of them are short, 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 super cool!
Take a look at the descriptions, photos and maps below…
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 down a wide, hard-packed switchback trail to a fenced platform right where the water dumps 308 feet into the Canyon below.
It’s awesome to see, hear and feel—you can feel the roar of the falls inside you, and feel the mist as it floats upwards.
You also get a superb view of Yellowstone Grand Canyon from this vantage point, looking downstream from the falls:
You’ll then hike back up the switchback trail back to your car, or take the North Rim Trail over to Red Rock Point, the next short hike on our list.
You’ll find the Brink trailhead at the beginning of North Rim Drive (a one-way road). If it’s midday during the summer, you may have to drive the one-way road a couple of times to find a parking spot.
If you’re up for a longer hike, another option is to park further up at the Red Rock Point trailhead, which was less crowded when we were there. Hike the North Rim Trail back to the Brink trailhead.
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, as you have another switchback trail to take, plus several flights of steps. 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. We only saw a handful of other hikers on this trail, and had the Point to ourselves for a few minutes.
The view from Lookout Point is very nice, too:
But the Red Rock Trail gets you down into the Canyon for a closer, more intimate look.
Uncle Tom’s Trail (South Rim)
Drive over to the South Rim, and you can access Uncle Tom’s Trail, the most intimate trail yet!
In the old days this was nothing more than a rope ladder, they say! Thankfully, it’s now a steel staircase bolted into the side of the Canyon.
It’s not for the faint-of-heart! You’ll walk down an open steel staircase a couple hundred feet along the side of a steep cliff into the Canyon.
But your proximity to the Falls is well worth it. Again, you’re close enough to feel the misty spray from the water from the viewing platform at the bottom of the stairway.
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.
We only had time to take the stairway into the canyon, but there are plenty of trails on this side of the canyon to check out, 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.
(All maps courtesy of YellowstoneTrips.com. My edits in green.)
Yellowstone National Park—including the Grand Canyon and glorious Lower Falls—is a must-see for every American, as far as I’m concerned. And everyone else will love it, too!
One of my favorite experiences in Yellowstone and its neighboring park to the south, the Grand Tetons, was hearing so many different languages. People from all over the world visit this unique area.
I’m so glad we were able to get our kids there while they were still at home. Even though it’s super crowded in the summers, parking is sometimes hard to find and it can get very hot, it’s so worth it.
There’s no place like it on earth.
It’s a little unnerving to realize you’re driving and hiking on top of this “super caldera” that almost the entire park is sitting on. But it’s just one of those things you push to the back of your mind and hope nothing erupts while you’re there!
One really gets a sense of the power and majesty of God at a place like Yellowstone…and His creativity and love of beauty. It’s pretty wonderful.