Today's post visits Yellowstone Falls, which consists of two major waterfalls on the Yellowstone River. As the Yellowstone river flows north from Yellowstone Lake, it leaves the Hayden Valley and plunges first over Upper Yellowstone Falls and then a quarter mile downstream over Lower Yellowstone Falls, at which point it then enters the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which is roughly 30 miles long, 800 to 1,200 feet deep and 1500 to 4,000 feet wide. The Yellowstone River is the force that created the canyon and the falls. It begins on the slopes of Yount Peak, south of the park, and travels more than 600 miles to its terminus in North Dakota where it empties into the Missouri River. It is the longest undammed river in the continental United States.
Did you know that the falls are erosional features formed by the Yellowstone River as it flows over progressively softer, less resistant rock. The Upper Falls is upstream of the Lower Falls and is 109 ft. high. It can be seen from the Brink of the Upper Falls Trail and from Uncle Tom's Trail. We chose to see it from the Brink today.
The Lower Falls is 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. The lower falls of the Yellowstone is still the largest volume major waterfall in the Rocky Mountains of the United States.
Our first stop today was at Lookout Point. As we stood on the point, we got an absolutely awesome view up the canyon (to the west). In the distance, far, far away, you can see the Yellowstone River's Upper Falls. At this viewpoint, the lower falls are hidden. Looking to the east, we got a great view of the rest of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Loved the pink and yellow canyon walls here. What a great start to the day! But, it gets better...As we made our way back to the truck we heard foraging going on in the heavily forested area to our left. We stopped and spotted a black bear! Yaaayyy, been looking for one since we got here. We watched for about 15 minutes as it made it's way through the trees, stopping occasionally to paw & claw at the ground digging up food. It noticed us watching & looked me straight in the eye!! Oh my, I loved it! What a beautiful, powerful animal. I felt honored to have shared those few minutes watching it in it's natural habitat. So cool!
Next stop, the Brink of the Upper Falls Viewpoint. It's a short walk down a paved path to an amazing viewpoint. As you stand at the Brink of the Upper Falls, you watch the Yellowstone River flow lazily along. It has no idea what's coming as it rounds this curve...then plunges 109 feet! This spot is amazing! I could have sat there for hours taking it all in. But, time to move on to Artist Point. Wow, all I can say is amazing...
What a great way to end our day viewing the amazing Yellowstone Falls. Hope you enjoyed the views too!
The next post covers our drive north to Mammoth Hot Springs & covers an encounter with elk and the amazing Upper & Lower Terraces. It's like being on another planet:)