Canyon Village and the Grand Canyon

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A canyon with tan walls and a waterfall
The view of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from Artist's Point is a popular destination.

NPS/Diane Renkin

Admire the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

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 109-foot (33.2-m) Upper Falls is upstream of the Lower Falls and can be seen from the Brink of the Upper Falls Trail and from Uncle Tom's Trail. The 308-foot (93.9-m) Lower Falls 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 volume of water flowing over the falls can vary from 63,500 gallons (240,374 l)/second at peak runoff in the spring to 5,000 gallons (18,927 l)/second in the autumn.

A third falls is located in the canyon between the Upper and Lower falls. Cascade Creek cascades into the canyon as Crystal Falls. It can be seen from the South Rim Trail just east of the Uncle Tom's area.

 
 
 
A bison followed by two vehicles walk down the right lane of a road
Hayden Valley is one of the best places in Yellowstone to view wildlife.

NPS/Diane Renkin

Watch Wildlife in Hayden Valley

Hayden Valley is a great place to view wildlife. Grizzly bears may be seen in the spring and early summer preying upon newborn bison and elk calves. Bison are often seen in the spring all the way through the fall rut. Coyotes and foxes are often seen in the valley. Ducks, geese, and American white pelicans cruise the river, while a variety of shore birds may be seen in the mud flats at Alum Creek. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, northern harriers, and sandhill cranes.

Safety Tip: Do not approach or surround bears or wolves on foot within 100 yards (91 m) or other wildlife within 25 yards (23 m). Maintain a safe distance from all wildlife.

 
View from a balcony of families talking to rangers at a desk
Learn about the supervolcano, geysers, and hot springs at the Canyon Visitor Education Center.

NPS

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. The current visitor center features exhibits on the Yellowstone Supervolcano, presents park films in the theatre, and provides information via rangers or real-time information displays.

 
A young woman looks across a mountain range on a windy day
Mount Washburn is one of the most popular day hiking destinations in Yellowstone National Park. Enjoy panoramic views from the top in person or on Yellowstone's webcams.

NPS/Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps

Hike to the Top of Mount Washburn

With a peak elevation of 10,243 feet (3,107 m) and panoramic views for about 20 to 50 miles (32 to 80 km), Mount Washburn is a popular day-hiking destinations. It is located just a few miles north of Canyon Village. Mount Washburn is the remnant of volcanic activity that took place long before the formation of the present canyon and named for General Henry 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 from two webcams).

In addition to being a popular hiking destination, Mount Washburn is one of three fire lookout stations in Yellowstone. It is staffed from mid-June until the fire season ends, during which time the staff watch for signs of fire.

 

Stay Here

This region has two options for staying overnight in Yellowstone: Canyon Lodge and Canyon Campground.

 
Girl roasting marshmallow over an open fire.

Camp in a Campground

Plan a night in one of twelve park campgrounds.

A large, A-frame-style log lodge rises above surrounding conifer trees.

Stay in a Lodge

Pick a lodge that's right for you and make a reservation early!

 

Canyon Area Frequently Asked Questions

The Upper Falls are 109 feet (33.2 m) and the Lower Falls are 308 feet (93.9 m).
This huge canyon is roughly 20 miles long, more than 1,000 feet deep, and 1,500 to 4,000 feet wide.
Scientists continue to develop theories about its formation. After the Yellowstone Caldera eruption, 640,000 years ago, lava flows and volcanic tuffs buried the canyon area; but hydrothermal gases and hot water weakened the rock. The river eroded this rock, carving a canyon in the Yellowstone River beginning at Tower Fall and heading upstream to Lower Falls.

North Rim Drive:Walkways at Lookout Point and Brink of the Lower Falls lead to views of both waterfalls. The longest stretch of accessible trail can be accessed from parking lots at Lookout or Grand View. You can also see the Lower Falls from Red Rock and Inspiration points.

South Rim Drive: See the Lower Falls at Artist Point, from Uncle Tom’s Trail, and from a few places along the South Rim Trail; see the Upper Falls from two viewpoints at Uncle Tom’s Point.

Visit Brink of Upper Falls from a viewing area just off the Grand Loop Road south of Canyon Junction, between the entrances to North and South Rim drives.

The canyon bends between the Upper and Lower falls, so there is no location where they can be seen at the same time.
Only one trail in this area leads to the bottom of the canyon—Seven Mile Hole Trail, a strenuous, steep round trip of 10.2 miles.
You could say the canyon is "rusting." The colors are caused by oxidation of iron compounds in the rhyolite rock, which has been hydrothermally altered ("cooked"). The colors indicate the presence or absence of water in the individual iron compounds and hydration of minerals in the rock. Most of the yellows in the canyon result from iron and sulfur in the rock.
The volume varies from 63,500 gallons (or 240,000 liters) per second at peak runoff to 5,000 gallons (or 18,900 liters) per second in the late fall.
A notch in the lip of the brink makes the water deeper and keeps it from mixing with air and becoming frothy, so it appears darker as it goes over the edge.
"Uncle Tom" Richardson was an early concessioner in the canyon area. From 1898–1905, he guided visitors to the canyon floor down a steep trail using rope ladders. Today the trail descends partway into the canyon via steep steel steps.
No, it is thought that some sketches were made from Moran Point and that a compilation of canyon views were incorporated into the painting.

Inside the canyon, look for osprey soaring over the river or perched on their five-foot diameter nests. They nest here from late April until early September. Also look for ravens and swallows. During July, a variety of butterflies feast on the abundant flowers in the meadows.

Hayden Valley, which begins approximately five miles south of Canyon Junction, is one of the best places in the park to view a wide variety of large mammals. Grizzly bears are often seen in the spring and early summer. Large herds of bison may be seen in the spring, early summer, and during the rut in August. Coyotes can almost always be seen in the valley; wolves are sometimes seen.

Mount Washburn is another excellent place for viewing wildlife. Bighorn sheep and marmots can be seen on its slopes in the summer. Wolves and bears are sometimes seen. Elk and bison frequent the valley north of the mountain.

 
Visitors walk toward the entrance of the wood and stone Canyon Visitor Education Center.

Canyon Visitor Education Center

See, hear, and learn how the Yellowstone volcano, its geysers and hot springs, and geologic history shape the area's ecosystems.

Trail with construction orange fencing around while rocks are moved into position.

Canyon Area Construction Projects

Learn about current and future closures that are part of the Canyon Overlooks and Trails Restoration Project.

Lower Falls plunges into the yellowish-tan canyon.

Canyon Hikes

Hike around the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River to see mountains and canyons.

Visitors sitting around tables eating and kids playing on furniture.

Accessibility in the Canyon Area

Learn about the accessible opportunities and options around Canyon Village and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

Skiers moving along a trail cut through the pine forest.

Canyon Skiing & Snowshoeing

Discover the skiing and snowshoeing opportunities around the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

Photo of Grotto Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin

Places To Go

Learn more about the amazing variety of destinations in Yellowstone.

Two girls stand in front of a large Yellowstone National Park sign while their dad photographs them

Plan Your Visit

Yellowstone is seasonal. Plan your visit by learning about current conditions, seasons, road conditions, services, activities, and more.

Last updated: June 27, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Phone:

307-344-7381

Contact Us