The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
We reach Canyon Junction and here we turn right onto Grand Loop Rd., which will take us to the canyon. We pass the first left turn, which leads to the Notrth Rim Drive. We will go there later. We continue towards the South Rim Drive and take the next left which will take us to the Brink of Upper Falls viewing point. This viewing point offers a beautiful view on the Yellowstone River gorge, one of the most breathtaking in the park.
Further we go through the Chittenden Bridge and enter South Rim Drive heading towards Uncle Tom’s Trail. The trail will take you to the Yellowstone Falls, which you will be able to admire from a very small distance. The walk is only 0.6 miles (1km) long, but you will have to beat more than 300 steps and 500 feet (150m) up. First you have to go down-, and then unfortunately uphill. At the bottom a viewing platform awaits. From there you will be able to gaze at the beautiful Yellowstone Falls.
Next we head to the Artist Point. You can reach it by car, or from a parking lot next to the Uncle Tom’s trail, which means taking a 0.6 mile (1km) walk along the rim, which will take you about 20 minutes one way. From the car park at the Artist Point there is only 500 feet (150 m) distance to beat. This is one of the most famous viewing points in the entire Yellowstone and it is a mandatory stop for all tourists, so be prepared for a huge crowd, which will often block you access to the best spots for taking pictures. But the view here is amazing. You can see the entire yellow canyon and the waterfall at its end. It is best to visit this spot at noon, as the best lighting is bound to be at this time of day.
From the Artist Point we return to the Grand Loop Rd., and from there we turn onto the already mentioned North Rim Drive. From here we head towards the Brink of Lower Falls point. You will have to walk 0.4 miles (0,6km) and descend 250 feet (75m) to get to a viewing platform. Just like at the Brink of Upper Falls you will stand right next to the top of the waterfall.
Now we take a short ride to the Lookout Point. It is especially worth to visit the Lower Lookout Point, often called the Red Rock Point. You have to go 250 feet down (75m) on wooden stairs in order to get to it. From there the view is similar to the one at the Artist Point, but it you stand much closer to the waterfall.
Next stop is the well known Grand View, with a great overlook of the colorful canyon walls. Here you will be able to spot a plethora of colors, ranging from yellow, through cinnabar, orange, pink up to green. The canyon walls were exposed to severe erosion, which created stone turrets at the sides of the ravine. The view of the emerald river down below, accompanied by colored walls is truly bewildering.
At the end of the North Rim Drive, the Inspiration Point is located. This point lays on a stone headland growing out of the canyon walls. This location allows us to admire the canyon and the river from both sides, and in the distance the Yellowstone Falls are visible. There is a viewing platform here.
If you are running short on time you can limit yourself only to the Brink of Upper Falls, Artist Point and Lookout Point, but it would be a shame to miss out on the rest.
The sightseeing of the Grand Canyon together with the driving will take you approximately 4 hours.
There are many road works currently underway in the area of the Grand Canyon and most of them are scheduled to end by July of 2018. Be sure to check the current status of the roads on the park website.
We head towards the Yellowstone Lake going further down the Grand Loop Rd. LeHardys Rapids are our first stop. If you are visiting Yellowstone at the turn of June and July, this is an obligatory stop. You will be able to see salmon jumping out of the water above the cascades in hope to reach the Fishing Bridge for spawning. In this period you will also have big chances of spotting a grizzly bear hunting for these fish. But even if your visit is in different months, this place is still worth seeing, as after a short walk on a wooden bridge you will be able to see an amazing view of the Yellowstone River, which you have seen from down below just a few moment ago. From here you can hike down to the river and rest your feet in cold water while sitting on rocks. But stay alert for wildlife, as animals often come here to drink water – bears included. We ourselves didn’t meet a bear, but many tourists had reported such an encounter in this place before.