Lower Yellowstone Falls in June 2014
I visited Yellowstone National Park five years ago, and yet I’m just now getting to one of the major features of the park, Lower Yellowstone Falls. Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls are stunningly beautiful, and they’re definitely worth seeking out if you’re in the park.
With Old Faithful and so many other geysers, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the wildlife, it can be difficult to choose what to do. And you should plan enough time to visit all of them. But you should also plan to visit a number of waterfalls, and if you only have time for a few, the falls on the Yellowstone River are probably the best to choose. The scenery around the falls is amazing.
The falls are very easy to get to and visit. They can be accessed just south of Canyon Village. From the North Rim Drive, Inspiration Point, Grandview Point and Lookout Point all give different views of the Lower Falls. From the South Rim Drive, Artists Point gives a view of the Lower Falls. As a waterfall fan, I believe I stopped at a number of these viewpoints since each stop is unique. Uncle Tom’s Trail is found on the South Rim, and that also leads down to a view of the falls. I did not do that, as I’m not a big fan of stairs/heights. No matter what, you’ll be able to find a wonderful view of the falls.
- Canyon Village is found at the intersection of Norris Canyon Road and Grand Loop Road.
- From that intersection, head south on Grand Loop Road, drive approximately 2 miles and you’ll find the N Rim Drive and S Rim Drive. Choose which viewpoint you want to visit, and that will help decide whether you want the North Rim or South Rim.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: variable, but often negligible
Where in the World is Lower Yellowstone Falls?
Pine Creek Falls in June 2014
When I visited Montana and Wyoming in 2014, I visited a number of Wyoming waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park. In Montana, I was able to visit two waterfalls on the way from Bozeman and back. The first, Ousel Falls, is outside of Big Sky. The second, Pine Creek Falls, is a bit more isolated and off the beaten path. (As the crow flies, these waterfalls are about 45 miles apart. In reality, the drive between the two is much longer.
I visited this one on the way back from Yellowstone. I exited Yellowstone from the north entrance, heading along US-89 toward Livingston. The roads and trails to the falls are not wildly far off of US-89, and the drive to the falls was stunningly beautiful. US-89 hugs the Yellowstone River for much of the drive. After veering off US-89 to get to the campground and trail head, there was some driving down some forest roads. I don’t remember them being particularly problematic, but it was four years ago.
I also don’t remember the hike to the falls being particularly difficult. It was in a mountainous area, so there was some elevation climb, I’m sure. I usually remember if the elevation climb is steeper, and this one doesn’t ring a bell. (The elevation change is listed at 390′ gain over 1.25 miles, so it is not wildly steep, but still will some uphill climb.) The trail head had a few other cars, with a few other people, including one larger family, hiking the trail. The hike to the falls was beautiful, though I tried to stay nearby others. (You should be aware of bears and another animals in the area.) Overall, it’s definitely a worthwhile hike to get a quick burst of Montana beauty a bit further from the busy Yellowstone trails.
- I would take a look at a map of US-89 in Montana to get an idea of the best road to turn on to get to the falls. One option would be to turn onto Pine Creek Road, and head east on it.
- Turn right on MT-540, East River Road, and head south for a few miles.
- Turn left on Luccock Park Road, which is the forest road. Head east on this to the end of the road, which will be the start of the trail head and also where you’ll find the campground.
Accessibility: 7/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Length of Hike: 2.5 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Pine Creek Falls?
Wraith Falls in mid-July 2015
In Yellowstone National Park, the very well known Lower and Upper Yellowstone Falls can be found. In the park, though, are a number of other waterfalls. While some of the others are widely visited, a few are quieter, which might be nice if you’re looking for something a bit less busy.
Wraith Falls might be a good choice for the “less busy” in Yellowstone. On the hike to the falls, I only passed 2 or 3 other groups of people. I distinctly remember being slightly more worried about bears in the area since this area wasn’t as traversed. I didn’t see any bears or wildlife here, though just down the road, I do remember seeing a bear along a hillside.
The hike to Wraith Falls is fairly straightforward. It’s about 1/2 a mile to the falls from the parking area, which has enough space for 5 or 6 cars. I didn’t have any issue finding parking. The hike goes pretty quickly, and you’ll arrive at the falls in 15 minutes or so. You won’t be able to get particularly close to the falls because of the way the trail is set up. As you might be able to tell from the picture, there is a lot of debris in the way of the falls, preventing you from getting much closer. It’s still an interesting waterfall, looking much like a washboard.
- Wraith Falls is found along the northern portion of the Grand Loop Road between US-89 and US-212. (I’m not 100% sure what roads are open during what times of the year, so check before you decide to visit if planning for Fall-Spring.)
- From Mammoth Hot Springs, head east along the Grand Loop Road. The pullout for the falls is about 0.5 miles east of the Lava Creek Picnic Area. I don’t remember if the parking area was signed, but it was relatively easy to find.
- From the parking area, follow the short trail to the falls. There is a small portion of it that is uphill, but it isn’t difficult.
Accessiblity: 9/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 1.0 mile round trip
Where in the World is Wraith Falls?