The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone are obviously the main draw to Canyon Village. As a result, formations and observation points along the canyon rim and near the waterfalls attract large crowds of visitors every year.
Although it is rumored that famous painter, Thomas Moran, crafted his stunning portrait of the Upper and Lower Falls from this point, park officials disagree. Photographer Frank J. Haynes actually named the area in 1883 and used it in his 1890 park guidebook. Regardless, the point is inspiring, and artists and photographers from around the world flock here to create their own artistic version of the waterfalls.
Brink of the Lower Falls
Visitors can stand on the brink of the Lower Falls and watch just steps away as the cataract tumbles 308 feet into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. A captivating sight, the Lower Falls have always intrigued park residents and visitors. Jim Bridger visited the site in 1851, and newspaper stories regarding the breathtaking waterfall began circulating as early as 1867.
Brink of the Upper Falls
The 1869 Folsom Party assigned the name “Upper Falls” to this cataract for the first time, and the famous waterfall has been known as such ever since. Dropping 109 feet, the waterfall invites visitors to take a close-up look at its descent from the Brink of the Upper Falls platform.
During the Pinedale Glacier Period 80,000 years ago, this giant granite boulder rolled forty miles from its previous perch in the Beartooth Mountains to its present location. The boulder weighs approximately 500 tons and rests along the north rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Inspiration Point is situated at 8,000 feet above sea level and provides a natural overlook of the Lower Falls and canyon below. The point is so inspirational, it spurred Nathanial P. Langford of the 1870 Washburn Expedition to write: “The place where I obtained the best and most terrible view of the canyon was a narrow projecting point situated two to three miles below the lower fall. Standing there or rather lying there for great safety, I thought how utterly impossible it would be to describe to another the sensations inspired by such a presence. As I took in the scene, I realized my own littleness, my helplessness, my dread exposure to destruction, my inability to cope with or even comprehend the mighty architecture of nature.”
Prior to 1880, this observation point was known as Mount Lookout, Prospect Point, Lookout Rock, and Point Lookout. Early Park Superintendent Philetus W. Norris gave the point its current name in 1880 after noting that the point frequently boasted numerous visitors. The point is still a favorite tourist destination offering outstanding views of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
Point Sublime offers another vantage point of the Lower Falls and surrounding canyon. The 1869 Cook-Folsom Expedition supposedly inspired the point’s naming, using such terms as beautiful, sublime, and grand to describe the sight they beheld from this point. Point Sublime was officially named during an early 1920s survey.
Red Rock Point
Displaying red coloring from iron oxide, Red Rock is situated below Lower Falls. Yellowstone Park photographer, Frank J. Haynes, christened the point in 1886.
Silver Cord Cascade
Plunging in a long series of multiple waterfalls, Silver Cord Cascade was first discovered in 1870. The Washburn Expedition Party dubbed the cascade Silverthread Fall, but the 1885 Hague Party gave the waterfall its present name. The waterfall is reportedly responsible for rumors of a hidden Yellowstone waterfall descending more than 1,000 feet. Although Silver Cord measures nowhere near 1,000 feet tall, its long cord of water is nonetheless impressive.
Upper Falls Viewpoint
Standing on the brink of the Upper Falls, visitors will feel the sheer power of the Yellowstone River as it tumbles 109 feet down the steep canyon walls. Waterfall mist and impressive thundering accompanies outstanding views at this vantage point.
View of the Lower Falls from Uncle Tom’s Trail
Uncle Tom’s Trail honors the life of early outfitter/guide, “Uncle” Tom Richardson. Uncle Tom capitalized on tourists’ curiosity, leading them down ladders to the base of Lower Falls for a one-of-a-kind view. Today, Uncle Tom’s Trail doesn’t require ladders, but it does lead visitors down 300 stairs to the same magnificent vantage point.