Ever wanted to visit the Grand Canyon? Don't point your vehicle south on I-15 just yet. Often overlooked by visitors and locals alike, Yellowstone has its own Grand Canyon, complete with water features that will blow your mind.
Less than two hours north of I.F., the Park's namesake river carves out a steep slice of earth that is truly a sight to behold.
It is roughly 20 miles long, measured from the Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area. Depth is 800 to 1,200 ft.; width is 1,500 to 4,000 ft.
Despite its grandeur, the canyon is a young pup in geologic terms. The present canyon is no more than 10,000 to 14,000 years old, although there has probably been a canyon in this location for a much longer period.
The exact sequence of events in the formation of the canyon is not well understood, even by those who know it best.
The "wow" factor of this natural feature can hardly be overstated. Bring a camera, spend some time and don't forget your bug spray.
The canyon has a myriad of enthralling features. When magazine staffers visited the area in mid-summer, we were especially taken by the lower falls.
It's a whopping 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.
There's also an Upper Falls which is 109 ft. high. It can be seen from the Brink of the Upper Falls Trail and from Uncle Tom's Trail.
Actually, a third falls can be found in 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.
Access to the top of the Lower Falls is excellent thanks to a very well maintained trail from the main Canyon parking lot. It has a number of switchbacks (10, in fact--we counted), but it is a fairly short hike. It even has a number of benches along the way where you can rest and take in the splendor of the river, forest and canyon.