Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Info & Guide
About the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is not quite as big as THE Grand Canyon, but it is roughly 20 miles long, measured from the Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area. It is 800 to 1,200 feet deep, and 1,500 to 4,000 feet wide. The canyon is relatively young, in geological time. It is believed to be no more than 10,000 to 14,000 years old, but there are only a few studies that have been performed, and they are thought to be inaccurate. It is known that the canyon was formed by erosion rather than by glaciation. Regardless of which overlook you choose, you will be able to see the layers of rock that the canyon was carved into by the river, and the the different colors in the canyon. The colors are caused by the oxidation of iron compounds in the rhyolite rock, which has been chemically altered by water and heat. In essence, the canyon is rusting, so there are a lot of browns and reds.
There are eagles and osprey that hunt below the cliff line, mostly for trout from the river. The ospreys, or “fish hawks”, nest in the canyon from late April until late August or early September. Their nests can usually be seen from Grandview, Lookout, and Artist points.
There are trails around the upper edge, and even a way to get down to the bottom of the canyon, but it’s a demanding hike! It’s called the Seven Mile Hole Trail, and it is a round trip of 11 strenuous miles. None of the shorter trails in the canyon area goes all the way to the bottom.
Things to do in the Canyon Village Area
- See the Natural Highlights
- Investigate the Geology
- Visit Historic Locations
- Learn about the Super-volcano at the canyon visitor center
- Join ranger-guided programs
- Hike in the canyon area
Waterfalls in the Canyon Area
The most famous waterfalls in Yellowstone, the Upper and Lower Falls, were formed by the same erosion that made the entire canyon. The Upper Falls is upstream from the Lower and is 109 ft. high. It can be seen from the Brink of the Upper Falls Trail and from Uncle Tom’s Trail, which is a trail that goes down into the canyon, but not all the way to the bottom. The Lower Falls is 308 ft. high, almost the exact height of the Statue of Liberty, and can be seen from Lookout Point, Red Rock Point, Artist Point, Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, and from many points on the South Rim Trail. The volume of water flowing over the falls can vary from 63,500 gallons per seconds at the peak runoff during spring, to just 5,000 gallons per second in the fall.
There is a third waterfall in the canyon between the Upper and Lower falls. Crystal Falls can be seen from the South Rim Trail just east of the Uncle Tom’s area and it is the outfall of Cascade Creek into the canyon.
Other Services in the Canyon Area
- Yellowstone Association Bookstore
- Camping for Tents and RVs
- Restaurants and Cafes
- General Stores
- Gas Station and Repair Shop
- Post Office