Whether you are planning your visit or browsing, here are some of our favorite things to do in the Canyon area.
Please note: some destinations are unavailable because of the Canyon Overlooks and Trails Restoration Project.
Admire the view from Artist's Point
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is roughly 20 miles long, measured from the Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area. The canyon was formed by erosion as Yellowstone River flowed over progressively softer, less resistant rock. The Upper Falls is upstream of the Lower Falls and is 109 ft. high. It can be seen from the Brink of the Upper Falls Trail and from Uncle Tom's Trail. The Lower Falls is 308 ft. high and 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 Lower Falls is often described as being more than twice the size of Niagara, although this only refers to its height and not the volume of water flowing over it. The volume of water flowing over the falls can vary from 63,500 gal/sec at peak runoff to 5,000 gal/sec in the fall. A third falls is located the canyon between the Upper and Lower falls. Crystal Falls is the outfall of Cascade Creek into the canyon. It can be seen from the South Rim Trail just east of the Uncle Tom's area. The canyon was a barrier to early travel, but became a destination for visitors when roads made the park more accessible. Take our online tour of the canyon and learn more about the geology of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Watch wildlife in Hayden Valley
Hayden Valley is an excellent place to view wildlife, including grizzly bears, particularly in the spring and early summer when they may be preying upon newborn bison and elk calves. Large herds of bison are often seen in the spring and early summer and during the fall rut. Coyotes are often seen in the valley. Bird life is abundant in and along the river. A variety of shore birds may be seen in the mud flats at Alum Creek. Ducks, geese, and American white pelicans cruise the river. Bird watchers should look for bald eagles, northern harriers, and sandhill cranes.
Safety Tip: Do not approach bears or wolves on foot within 100 yards (91 m) or other wildlife within 25 yards (23 m). Keep a safe distance from all wildlife. If you cause an animal to move or change its behavior, you are too close!
Visit the Canyon Visitor Education Center
The Canyon Visitor Education Center is located in the Canyon Village complex, part of the Mission 66 project in Yellowstone. The original visitor center was completed in 1957, and the new lodge was open for business in the same year. There are, however, still remnants of the old hotel, lodge, and related facilities.
Look out from the top of Mt. Washburn
Of the more than 900 miles of hiking trails in Yellowstone, Mount Washburn is one of the most popular day hiking destinations. It is located in north central Yellowstone with a peak elevation of 10,243 feet (3,107 m) and panoramic views for about 20 to 50 miles (32 to 80 km). It is the remnant of volcanic activity that took place long before the formation of the present canyon and named for Gen. Henry Dana Washburn, leader of the 1870 Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition. At the top, check out interpretive exhibits inside the base of a fire lookout and enjoy the view (you can also watch views from Mount Washburn on our webcams). During July, wildflowers carpet the slopes.
In addition to being a popular hiking destination, Mount Washburn is one of three fire lookout stations in Yellowstone. It is continuously staffed from mid-June until the fire season ends. Fire lookouts are staffed by firefighters trained to detect and locate fires, monitor fire activity, and report significant changes. They spend the summer living alone, watching for signs of fire.
Last updated: July 18, 2017