Canyon Village Complex:
Canyon Village Education Center: Located in the Canyon Village Complex, the Center provides:
Information, illustrations, and film highlighting Yellowstone’s supervolcano and geological history
Theater with an orientation film to your Yellowstone experience and other features for a more enjoyable and safe visit
A room-size, 15 x 15-foot topographical model of the entire Park with narrative pertaining to its geological uniqueness’
Real-time earthquake data collected throughout the park on display
Various exhibits of the geological forces that shaped the Yellowstone landscape - forests, meadows and grassland, mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers, etc.
Bookstore with large variety of books and various souvenirs
Multiple restroom stalls and a few picnic tables in front
Canyon Lodge and Cabins: This community provides the largest and most central lodging in the park with seven main lodges (Chittenden, Cascade, Dunraven, Hayden, Moran, Rhyolite, and Washburn) and cabins providing over 500 rooms. Many of the lodges have been completed sense 2016. The main Canyon Lodge building redesign and remodel, which includes restaurants and a gift shop, was completed in 2017. Accommodations include:
Standard Lodge Room: 1 queen bed, activity table/chairs, phone, bathroom with shower
Superior Lodge Room: 2 queen beds, activity table/chairs, coffee brewer, refrigerator, carpeted floor, phone, bathroom with tub/shower combo
ADA Standard Room: 1 queen bed, activity table/chairs, phone, bathroom with shower grab bars
ADA Superior Lodge Room: 2 queen beds, activity table/chairs, coffee brewer, refrigerator, carpeted floor, phone, bathroom with tub/shower combo with grab bars
Premium Lodge Room: 1 to 2 queen beds, western-themed lodge furniture, coffee brewer, refrigerator, carpeted floor, phone, bathroom with tub/shower combo
ADA Premium Lodge Room: 1 queen, or 1 queen and a single bed, accessible bathrooms featuring showers with handrails, portable shower-hose attachments, toilets, and sinks.
Suite: 1 king and 1 queen in separate rooms, sofa sleeper bed, activity tables/chairs, bar with coffee brewer and refrigerator, carpeted floors, phone and bathroom with tub/shower combo
ADA Suite: 1 king and 1 queen in separate rooms, sofa sleeper bed, activity tables/chairs, bar with coffee brewer and refrigerator, carpeted floors, phone and bathroom with tub/shower combo with grab bars
Western Cabins: 2 queen beds, private full bathrooms. No phones
Bear Aware Bear Spray Rentals: Located just north of the Education Center, Bear Aware Bear Spray Rentals is the only location in Yellowstone National Park that rents bear spray, an essential item to anyone that goes hiking in the park. While the rental location is here at Canyon Village Complex, there are 7 convenient drop off locations at Sinclair Gas Stations throughout the park (Mammoth, Tower-Roosevelt, Canyon, Madison, Old Faithful, West Thumb, Fishing Bridge, and Cooke City just outside the Northeast Entrance).
Yellowstone General Store: This General Store opened in 1957, and like other general stores, offers a wide selection of gifts, T-shirts, souvenirs, a grocery store, and a fountain and grill/diner serving hamburgers, fries, and shakes.
Yellowstone Adventure Sporting Goods/Canyon Outfitters: A good selection of outdoor apparel, footwear, camping equipment, fishing gear, optics, trail mix snacks, and other items to help make your outdoor experience more comfortable and enjoyable.
Dining: Chose from M66 Bar & Grill (dinner reservations are required, call 307-344-7311), Canyon Lodge Eatery, The Falls Café, The Ice Creamery, and Washburn Lookout.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: The Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River marks the start of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, a 20-mile (32 km) long, 800-1,200 feet deep, 1,500-4,00 feet wide geological phenomenon of erosion carved by the Yellowstone River in the rhyolite rocks that form the canyon walls. During peak water volume from the spring runoff, 64,000 gallons per second of water run down the canyon and 5,000 gallons per second at the low water volume period. The canyon comes with majestic waterfalls, beautifully colored canyon walls with occasional areas of white geothermal activity and is topped with towering green trees. The Yellowstone River provides a combination of green-colored water broken up with white tossed rapids as the river flows down the canyon.
Key Points Along the North Rim of the Canyon
Brink of the Upper Falls Trail: From the parking lot it is a short 1/8th-mile walk down (75-feet change in elevation) a paved walking path with sections of stone stairs to reach a viewing platform set on a rocky outcropping. This positions you right next to the brink of the falls where the mighty Yellowstone River careens over the edge, dropping 109 feet. It is great to hear the sounds of the rushing, tumbling river as it enters the upstream narrowed section, makes a hard-right turn, and then crashes over the falls.
Brink of the Lower Falls Trail: This trail drops more than 300 feet in less than a half-mile and places you at the brink of the Lower Falls. Here you will have a bird’s eye view of the Yellowstone River as it drops over the rocky edge and falls 308 feet into the heart of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone below. The hike is steep and strenuous, but multiple switchbacks make it very doable. The chance to see this majestic waterfall so close is more than worth the effort. You literally feel the power of the falls in your chest as the mechanical forces penetrate the air creating a unique sensation never to be forgotten.
The Upper and Lower falls were mentioned in our article titled: "Best Places to Go and Things to do with Kids in Each of Yellowstone's 14 Road Sections"
Lookout Point: Located right next to the road a 150-foot trail leads you to this point which offers a stunning view of the canyon and the Lower Falls. The site was officially named in 1880 when then park superintendent P.W. Norris instructed the building of a railing to protect visitors to the popular lookout of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Red Rock Point Trail: This trail is accessed from Lookout Point and drops in excess of 250 feet over .3-miles down into the canyon via a combination of paved paths and wooden stairs. The lookout platform offers a beautiful upstream view of the river and the Lower Falls. The red rock color is the result of rhyolite rock being thermally heated and exposed to iron oxides. If traveling with kids, be very attentive as there are steep drop-offs along the way.
Grandview Point: This short hike takes you to a more distant view of the Lower Falls.
Glacial Boulder Trailhead: Along the road to Inspiration Point is the Glacial Boulder Trailhead that leads to Cascade Overlook Trailhead. The glacial boulder is a very large granite boulder that measures 24 ft x 20 ft x 18 ft and weighs more than 500 tons. It is believed to have been transported by glacial movement from the Beartooth Mountains, 15 miles away. The Cascade Overlook Trail weaves in and out of lodgepole pine trees and along the canyon rim with periodic views of the colorful yellow, orange, pink, and white canyon walls. At around 3/4 of a mile, the trail descends and soon you arrive at the Silver Cord Cascade Overlook located right across from the Silver Cord Cascade where Surface Creek flows out of Ribbon Lake toward the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and plunges 1,200 feet down in a groove it has cut into the canyon wall. This is credited as the “tallest waterfall in Yellowstone”.
Inspiration Point: This point is famous for providing scenic views up and down the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and the most distant view of a portion of the Lower Falls. You can hike to this location on the North Rim Trail, or you can simply hike down 70 stone steps from the parking area or, a short wheelchair accessible alternate route.
Key Points Along the South Rim of the Canyon
Chittenden Bridge and Wapiti Picnic Area: Shortly after crossing over the Yellowstone River on Chittenden Bridge (built in 1906), a turn off takes you to a large parking lot with restrooms and the Wapiti Picnic Area. Secluded back in the trees, and relatively close to the river, are 7 tables. Here you are so close to where the cascades begin as the river starts its downward slope toward the Upper Falls that you hear the constant sound of the rushing waters while you enjoy your picnic.
Wapiti Lake Trailhead: Located at the back end of the parking lot, the trail climbs a gentle slope and at the .5-mile mark the trail has a junction. The trail to the left gradually draws closer to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, passing by Clear Lake and on to Ribbon Lake at 3.1 miles. The trail to the right also eventually leads to Ribbon Lake at 4.2 miles. You can take either trail and loop back on the other trail for a total 7.6-mile hike. Both trails provide southward views of the open expanse of Hayden Valley as they pass through wooded, geothermal, and open meadows.
A junction on the trail at Ribbon Lake (Seven Mile Hole Trail) leads to Silver Cord Cascade where Surface Creek flows out of Ribbon Lake toward the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and plunges 1,200 feet down in a groove it has cut into the canyon wall. This is credited as the “tallest waterfall in Yellowstone”.
Upper Falls View Point: From the parking area on the Artist’s Point Road (South Rim Drive), a short walk takes you to a lookout area and a view of the Upper Falls as well as Crystal Falls, a relatively unknown falls, created by the Cascade Creek as it falls into the canyon.
Opposite the parking area is the Clear Lake Trail which cuts through forest and over meadows to Clear Lake and a hydrothermal area.
Uncle Tom’s Trail: This trail begins from the parking lot of Uncle Tom’s Point with a short hike toward the canyon’s edge, turning right, as a sign indicates, toward another junction on the trail. This trail is better described as a flight of stairs. It is a breathtaking and strenuous (when returning) adventure that takes you from the top of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone down the south wall, some 328 steps to the base of the Lower Falls. One reward for making the trek is the consistent sighting of a beautiful rainbow that forms in the mist of the falls.
This trail was originally built in 1898 by H.F. Richardson, affectionately known as “Uncle Tom” by his friends and required the use of ropes and rope ladders along the path. In 1905, the government built a wooden stairway, the predecessor to the now metal stairway that reaches ¾ the way down the south wall of the canyon to a viewing platform of the Lower Falls.
Artist’s Point: Less than 1/10th of a mile from the Artist Point parking area (restrooms are located at the south end) at the east end of South Rim Drive is a uniquely situated promontory named Artist’s Point. This location was named by F. Jay Haynes, who was part of the 1871 Hayden Expedition. From this point, you have an intriguing and picturesque view of a force of nature as the Yellowstone River has produced a V-shaped canyon, eroded over time for us to behold. Mostly treeless and jagged walls colored in yellow, orange, and pink serve as a great nesting place for bald eagles and osprey. Osprey come to this area near the end of April to mate, and six to eight weeks later their chicks are born. So, bring your spotting scope and binoculars and see if you can find and view a fully functioning osprey nest atop one of the many pinnacles of the canyon walls.
A junction along the way to Artist’s Point breaks off and heads east along the canyon edge to Point Sublime, another picturesque point for a view of the canyon.
Canyon Campground (Elevation 7,900 ft/2408 m): The entrance is located just east of the Canyon Village complex which provides campers with close access to all the conveniences found at Canyon Village. The campground has 273 campsites (no group sites) and is nestled in a lodgepole forest that provides most sites with good shading. Each site has a picnic table and fire pit with grate. Shared use food storage boxes measuring 48 x 22 x 22 are scattered throughout the campground. Flush toilet restrooms are in each of the 10 campground loops. A laundry and shower facility (2 showers included each night stayed) are next to the campground registration office.
*RV dump station
*14 restrooms (flush toilets, cold running water sinks) located throughout the campground each with a dishwashing sink located between the men’s and women’s room
*Large bear-proof trash dumpsters
*Maximum of 6 people per site
*Fire circle with cooking grate
*Water spigots distributed
*Shared bear-proof food storage boxes located throughout campground
*Quiet hours 10:00pm to 6:00am (generators prohibited from 8:00pm to 8:00am)
*The cutting or taking of standing wood is prohibited
*Wheeled vehicles must stay on pavement
*Properly store food, utensils, coolers, and any item with an odor in vehicles or bear boxes
*No bicycles allowed off the pavement or on trails
*Pets must be controlled at all times, may not be more than 100 feet from the roads or parking areas, are not allowed on trails, and must be picked up after
*Washing dishes, clothing, or brushing teeth at outside campground spigots is prohibited
*Use of rollerblades, skateboards, or scooters is prohibited
*Keep a clean campsite. All trash and litter must be disposed of in the bear-proof dumpsters
Canyon Horseback Rides: 1- and 2-hour horseback rides are available for individuals at least 8 years of age, 48 inches tall and weigh under 240 lbs., and understand English. Depending on the ride selected, trails traverse through open meadows and timber areas, with the 1-hour ride running next to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (though the canyon is not visible from the trail) and follows Cascade Creek, and the 2-hour ride follows the rim of Cascade Canyon, with a view down into Cascade Canyon visible from Coyote Slide.