13 BEST Yellowstone National Park Waterfalls To See

Pinterest Hidden Image

You’re expecting gorgeous and spectacular everything when you visit Yellowstone, and this park won’t disappoint. And yes, that includes the Yellowstone National Park waterfalls.

While you might make a beeline for the park’s other attractions…thermal features like the Grand Prismatic Spring, or a spot renowned for wildlife like Lamar Valley, you don’t want to miss waterfalling. Your family will agree that waterfalls offer some of this Idaho + Montana + Wyoming national park’s most exciting, beautiful views. 

You may need to hike to several Yellowstone waterfalls — some of these gems are off the beaten path. But that’s not a worry for adventurers like you, right? However, Yellowstone is one of the most accessible national parks by car, so you can catch several beauties right from the parking lot or main road.

Yellowstone National Park waterfalls: our family at Yellowstone in front of one of many beautiful waterfallsPin

The 13 Best Yellowstone National Park Waterfalls

Yo may have already heard of the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone Canyon, which are the two major waterfalls of the Yellowstone River. But those are certainly not the only two waterfalls worth visiting in this park! Yellowstone has gorgeous waterfalls ready for viewing all over the park, not just in the canyon area.  

But since the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone are the most well-known, we will start there, and then dive into the rest of these watery wonders you can find throughout the park.

1. Upper Falls 

There are two great options for seeing the Upper Falls. One offers a very short walk for a grand view of the falls from afar. The other will offer a VERY up-close view, for slightly more effort.

Option One: View of the Upper Falls from afar at the Upper Falls View Point

How to get there: From Canyon Village, head south on Grand Loop Rd for 2.3 miles, turn L on South Rim Dr to park in the first parking lot
Hike length: couple hundred feet
Difficulty: easy

Option Two: View of Upper Falls UP CLOSE from Brink of the Upper Falls

How to get there: From Canyon Village, head south on Grand Loop Rd. Pass N. Rim Drive, then look for signage on left for brink of upper falls parking (you’ll be on Grand Loop Rd approx 2 miles). If you hit South Rim Drive, you’ve gone too far.
Hike length: 0.3 miles, out and back (there are about 20 stone steps on the trail/no ramp)
Difficulty: easy

The first thing you’ll likely notice about the Upper Falls is its dramatic views. And the colors! You’ll see pink, red, yellow and white palettes in the canyon; the water is gorgeous turquoise. The dramatic colors carved out of the canyon will make you want to stare and stare some more (as long as your kids let you, that is). 

family selfie at the Brink of the Upper Falls, Yellowstone National ParkPin
family selfie at the brink of the upper falls

The Yellowstone River crashes its way through the Upper Falls at 109 feet, with puffs of steam emanating from sections of the falls. The canyon comes from water supplied by ice dams that melted and flooded the region during the most recent ice age.

Of the two options for viewing the Upper Falls, our family’s favorite is the Brink of the Upper Falls. Standing at the very top of the falls and watching it cascade down over 100′ from less than 10′ away is pretty spectacular. And there is plenty of metal fencing mama bears, so that should allay some waterfall fears.

YouTube video
view from the brink of the upper falls

2. Lower Falls

The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, at 308 feet, rage and plunge through the 1,000-foot-deep Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Believe it or not, the Lower Falls are twice the height of Niagara Falls.

There are multiple ways to get a great view of this iconic Yellowstone National Park waterfall including Artist’s Point, Lookout Point, Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, and South Rim Trail.

The most popular options are Artists Point and Lookout Point because of the easy access.

How to get there: You can access Artist Point at the end of South Rim Road and Lookout Point off North Rim Drive.
Hike length: Artist Point: 1/10 mile on a paved trail off South Rim Drive. Lookout Point: You can drive right up to it! These are the most accessible waterfalls on our list.
Difficulty: Easy

Check it out in the spring for the most water volume. Consider trekking to the falls during golden hour, when the receding sunlight shafts golden light across the falls and landscape. Magical! (Pssst…want some other suggestions for where your family should see sunsets in this park? We’ve got some for you!)

view of the lower falls of the yellowstone from Artist's Point in the Grand Canyon of the YellowstonePin
view of the lower falls from Artist’s Point

Definitely check out the amazing (and easy to access) view from Artist Point — where Thomas Moran sketched his famous landscape for extraordinary views.

lower falls of the yellowstone in the distance at artist's point, grand canyon of the yellowstonePin
Heather’s family photo at Artist’s Point with the lower falls of the Yellowstone in the distance

Artist’s Point offers two wheelchair-accessible observation platforms. Rangers lead hikes daily and offer talks at 10 a.m. for kids at this location (which Heather’s family has attended and highly recommends).

Where’s the best place to glimpse the Lower Falls? Probably Lookout Point. Lookout Point gives you a peek of the roaring water just 1/3 of a mile away!

Check it out in the morning where the spray from the waterfall creates rainbows. Access to Lookout Point is simple as well. The trip from parking lot to this beautiful view point is less than a quarter mile, round-trip and is almost completely flat.

view of the lower falls of the yellowstone river from lookout pointPin
View of the Lower Falls from Lookout Point

Past Lookout Point, you could continue down over 300 stairs to Red Rock Point, but as we know, what goes up, must come down, and vice versa…so if you decide to hike down, remember going up isn’t quite as fun.

And the view from the point is really amazing, so you can easily save your quadriceps the trouble without feeling too badly.

view of the lower falls of the yellowstone river and the stairs of the red rock point trailPin
View of the (many) stairs down the Red Rock Point trail for a slightly closer view of the Lower Falls

Note that there’s no shortage of trails that can take you to a view of the falls, including the Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, 0.5 miles off North Rim Drive (Heather’s family’s favorite view point).

To access the Brink of the Lower Falls, you have to hike down (then back up) a steep switch back trail (600′ elevation change over 0.8 miles round-trip) to the observation point (which has plenty of metal fencing for safety).

Heather’s family did it with kids ages 11-16, and they had no issues, but be aware this is a difficult hike heading back up to the parking lot from the bottom of the trail.

YouTube video
View from the Brink of the Lower Falls

However, my family would say the most scenic opportunity is to take the South Rim Trail, a 1.75-mile trail along the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. You won’t want to stop taking pictures, but hold onto your kids — the edge of the trail is just that — an edge!

Pin
My (Melissa’s) kids along the South Rim Trail

3. Crystal Falls

How to get there: You can access Crystal Falls on South Rim Trail just east of the Uncle Tom’s trail area.
Hike length: 4.1 miles — you can see the Upper Falls, Lower Falls and Crystal Falls all at once on this trail.
Difficulty: Moderate

Don’t forget about Crystal Falls amid the grandeur of Upper and Lower Falls. You can see it between both Upper and Lower Falls. It’s a whopping 129 feet of crystal beauty! Your family will like this as much as the Upper and Lower Falls. 

Crystal Falls Yellowstone National ParkPin
Crystal Falls | Miguel Hermoso Cuesta, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Fairy Falls

How to get there: You can access two trailheads to Fairy Falls. Either park at the end of Fountain Flat Drive or a mile south of Midway Geyser Basin at the Fairy Falls parking lot.

Hike length: 5.4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Oh, my goodness, my kids had so much fun at Fairy Falls.

First, you’ll have the opportunity to take a left at a fork in the path to see a bird’s-eye, gorgeous view of the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is better than the view you get on the walking trail.

map showing fairy falls parking lot, grand prismatic overlook, and the fairy falls trailhead in Yellowstone NPPin
Fairy Falls Parking Lot circled at bottom (this lot gets CROWDED mid-day in peak months, so go early am or late afternoon), the walk to the Grand Prismatic Overlook is .7 miles with just over a 100′ elevation gain. After the overlook, you can continue along the Fairy Falls trail to reach the falls.

Grand Prismatic is unbelievable from above because you can see the orange, green and blue jumping out at you from the path. 

Grand Prismatic Overlook from Fairy Falls trail in Yellowstone National ParkPin
Many people take Fairy Falls trail to the Grand Prismatic Overlook, and simply go back to the parking lot from there. Not a bad decision if you aren’t up for a long hike. This is the best spot, in Heather’s opinion to see the Grand Prismatic. Expert tip: Don’t take this trail on a rainy, bleak, or overly cloudy day. The colors are MUCH more vibrant on bright, sunny days.

We visited Yellowstone National Park in August, so it was busy here — and Fairy Falls was swarming with people. There was definitely some jockeying for position to get a good photo. However, we did get to play around at the foot of the 200-foot waterfall.

My kids skipped rocks, sat on logs and kinked their necks to glimpse the top of the falls.

Pin
my daughter enjoying Fairy Falls

The hike is easy, and it winds its way through young lodgepole pines. I clearly remember that my son forgot to grab his water bottle, so he was thirsty! Don’t forget to grab the Hydroflasks! 

Pin
Beautiful Fairy Falls

5. Cave Falls

How to get there: From Ashton, Idaho, head east on Main Street/ID-47 for 6.1 miles. Turn right onto Cave Falls Rd/1400 N. You’ll pay the usual park fee to enter the park because it is inside Yellowstone National Park.
Hike length: Quick walk to the falls
Difficulty: Easy

We’ll cover Bechler Falls and Cave Falls in the same group because you can access them on the same hike/drive. Note that these two waterfalls, though close to eachother, are very much off the beaten track from the rest of the park.

We’d recommend checking these two out only if you are going to be heading in or out of the park via the south entrance. So this could be a good pit stop if you’re planning on doing Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NP on the same trip.

Cave Falls looks like the length of a football field (it’s the widest waterfall in Yellowstone NP) — your jaw will drop when you see its wide span. Take advantage of the refreshing swimming hole at the bottom, but use caution when swimming here, especially with young kids.

Cave Falls Yellowstone National ParkPin
Cave Falls | Bryan Harry, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also access both falls from the Bechler Ranger Station, the trailhead for Cascade Corner. Bechler Meadows’ wetlands attract grizzlies and black bears and great blue herons. Trails are wet through July, so don’t forget your kids’ boots (and bear spray). 

6. Bechler Falls

How to get there: Continue east on the riverbank trail 1.5 miles from Cave Falls. 
Hike Length: 1.5 miles from Cave Falls
Difficulty: Moderate

Bechler Falls is one of the broadest and most voluminous waterfalls in Yellowstone tucked in the remote southwest corner of Yellowstone. As you drive there, you’ll likely wonder where you’re going because it’s not on the main path. It’s worth traveling down a dirt road to see these gorgeous falls. 

Again, like Cave Falls, Bechler Falls is not accessible from the main part of the park. It’s worth checking out though if traveling between Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton National Park.

Bechler Falls, Yellowstone National ParkPin
Bechler Falls | J. Tyers, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

7. Gibbon Falls

How to get there: Driving east from Madison to Norris, you can access it on Grand Loop Road, 4 miles east of Madison.
Hike length: 0.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy

You’ll be impressed by the 84-foot falls from the Gibbon River, one of the park’s most eye-pleasing cascades. The falls bump and jump over hard rhyolite that marks the edge of the Yellowstone caldera. You don’t have to stop at Gibbon Falls; you can see it from the road, but I highly recommend getting out to see it up close.

There’s a short .5 mile total (out and back) path from the small parking area down to the falls overlook that runs between the river on top of a bluff, and the road.

Waterfalls of Yellowstone National Park: Gibbon FallsPin
Gibbon Falls as seen from the end of the short overlook path

Our favorite part of Gibbon Falls besides the jaw-dropping views? The picnic areas are where you can sit, admire the river, and munch on some tasty peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and potato chips. (Sound oddly specific? Yep, that’s what we ate.)

8. Tower Fall

How to get there: Access Tower Fall off Grand Loop Road, just south of the Tower-Roosevelt junction
Hike length: 150 yards from the parking area
Difficulty: Easy

Sore and tired from hiking? Looking for a waterfall recommendation on the roadside? Easy!

trailhead sign to Tower FallPin
The parking lot for Tower Fall overlook can get crowded in the high season, so go early or toward dusk for great light, and the best chance at hassle-free parking

Tower Fall fits the bill, where Tower Creek plunges 132 feet to combine with the Yellowstone River. Don’t forget to gaze at the volcanic pinnacles along the way.

Yellowstone National Park Waterfalls: Tower FallPin
Tower Fall from the overlook

P.S. For some reason, it’s called “Tower Fall,” not “Tower Falls.” You’ll sound like a true Wyomingite when you say it without the “s.”

educational sign at Tower Fall, Yellowstone National ParkPin
educational sign along route to Tower Fall discussing the geology of the spires of rock

While you’re there, don’t miss the general store…it’s a great gift shop. Plus, they have nice bathrooms here. And even better…ice cream!

9. Mystic Falls

How to get there: You can access the trailhead at Biscuit Basin. 

Hike length: 2.4 miles

Difficulty: Easy/moderate

This one’s on a trail, so you’re welcome for the recommendation if you have kids who need to burn off steam!

We loved Mystic Falls because you hike through a burned forest to Mystic Falls’ lava-rock base. You can also switchback up Madison Plateau to watch Old Faithful. Another reason to trek to Mystic Falls: You get a super uncrowded view of Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin! Three cheers for that!

Mystic Falls Yellowstone National ParkPin
Mystic Falls

10. Rustic Falls

How to get there: Drive about 4.5 miles south of Mammoth on Grand Loop Road.
Hike length: Quick walk to the side of the road
Difficulty: Easy

Here’s another quick stop on the waterfall tour: ​​Rustic Falls is a bell-shaped waterfall cascading down a 47-foot basalt cliff.

An easy stop on Grand Loop Road, you can stop at the top of the falls or 500 yards down the road. Consider checking it out in the spring and early summer to capture it when snowmelt has the best chance of impacting your camera and your memories.

Rustic Falls, Yellowstone National ParkPin
Visitors at Rustic Falls | Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

11. Undine Falls

You can catch a good look at this beautiful waterfall easily from the side of the Grand Loop Rd, but there’s also a hike, if your family is so inclined.

How to get there: Access the trailhead across the road from the Lava Creek picnic area or Mammoth Campground. If you want to see if from a roadside overlook, there’s parking for several cars off the Grand Loop Rd, 4 miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs.

Hike length: 4.2 miles

Difficulty: Moderately challenging

Undine Falls gets its name from wise sprites who reside near waterfalls. Undine Falls (whether sprites have something to do with it or not) plunges 60 feet into a deep canyon. If you’re looking for peace, this is a good stop because it’s not busy. 

If you want to turn the falls into a hike, you can take the Lava Creek Trail near West Yellowstone, Montana. You’ll likely catch others birding, fishing and hiking along the trail, so if you and your family like to do those activities, you’re in good company.

Undine Falls, Yellowstone National ParkPin
Undine Falls view from the roadside viewpoint

12. Wraith Falls

How to get there: 5 miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs on the Grand Loop Rd (just past Undine Falls)
Hike length: 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy

For our family, the best part of Wraith Falls is the hike to get to it. It’s not a long or difficult trail, only 1/2 mile each way, but it strolls through some BEAUTIFUL meadows.

Yellowstone National Park waterfalls: hike to Wraith FallsPin
hike through gorgeous meadows to Wraith Falls

You also get to cross a stream, and negotiate a small bridge (which the kids loved). Then you see the falls, which are more of a gentle, tumbling cascade instead of the raging river-type waterfall like you’ll see with the Upper or Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.

Wraith Falls is more quiet, understated, and peaceful.

Yellowstone National Park waterfalls: Wraith FallsPin
Wraith Falls

13. Kepler Cascades

How to get there: 2-miles south of Old Faithful Village on the Grand Loop Rd, you can access a pullout for parking, where a short walk leads you to a wooden patio on the canyon’s edge.
Hike length: Quick walk from the parking lot
Difficulty: Easy

When you’re in the Old Faithful region, don’t forget about the 100-foot Kepler Cascades, which swoosh through a rocky canyon south of Old Faithful Village.

Kepler Cascades is a gorgeous waterfall that handles the tumultuous Firehole River. Whip out your camera for another gorgeous family pic under these cascades.

Kepler Cascades, Yellowstone National ParkPin
beautiful Kepler Cascades

How to Choose the Best Waterfalls to View at Yellowstone

Yellowstone is gigantic and has oodles of waterfalls, so which ones should you choose? 

Here’s the deal. Planning a short trip may seem like a weird story problem from sixth grade without an easy answer. The park covers 3,471 square miles (larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined!) with 250 miles of roads and 1,100 miles of hiking trails. It could take a month to drive all the roads and a lifetime to hike all the trails.  

My family and I went to Yellowstone in August 2022, and we had a great time tromping through creeks, hiking the trails, learning about fumaroles and mud pots and, of course, trying to catch waterfalls with our hands. We had a range of ages with us — my parents, who were in their sixties, us (in our late thirties at the time) and two kids, ages nine and six. 

We tried to hit all the main areas of the park in a week (whew, we put a lot of miles on our truck): 

  • Canyon Village
  • Madison and West Yellowstone
  • Mammoth Hot Springs and the North
  • Norris Geyser Basin
  • Old Faithful
  • Tower-Roosevelt and the Northeast
  • West Thumb, Grant, and the South

If you have the time, you can hit all the areas or pick a couple and stick to it. The largest waterfalls are in the Canyon Village area.

Many of the waterfalls on this list will be along your route…the great thing about Yellowstone is it’s set up in a loop, and you’ll be making pit-stops all-along the way.

We’d say the Yellowstone National Park waterfalls you can’t miss (and are easy to work into your route are:

  • Upper and Lower Falls
  • Gibbon Falls
  • Undine Falls
  • Tower Fall

Each of these will likely be right along your way at some point during your trip, and none require hikes to see. So definitely squeeze these waterfalls into your itinerary!

Snap a Pic with Your Family at the Best Waterfalls

Whether you’re at the top of the falls or taking pictures from the main roads, Yellowstone (the world’s first national park!) has some of travelers’ favorite waterfalls in the United States.

Whether you spend a whole day chasing waterfalls to get a closer look at the must-see tallest waterfalls on your list or spend an hour on the brink of the Upper Falls or another popular spot, get at least one picture with a waterfall in…safely, of course.

No leaning over balconies, kids on shoulders at steep overlooks, jumping fences etc. (you’ll give this mama heartburn). But you’ll be happy to have at least one waterfall family pic…I know we’re glad we got one!

family in front of Wraith Falls, Yellowstone National ParkPin
Heather’s family in front of Wraith Falls…accessi | Snap a waterfall family pic…even if everyone is looking tired, hungry, grumpy, or all three. It’s hard to take bad Yellowstone National Park waterfalls pics, so go for it!

Pin this Yellowstone National Park waterfalls information for later! And if you found this article helpful, leave a comment on the pin. That helps others decide whether to use this information, too!

13 BEST Yellowstone National Park Waterfalls Your Family Won't Want To Miss! #yellowstone #yellowstonenationalpark #nationalparks #familytravelPin
happy trails! melissaPin
Photo of author

About Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock is a writer, editor and the owner of the website College Money Tips. She loves to strap on her hiking boots and strike out on a trail. Her favorite trail (so far!) is the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park. Her love of travel has led her to explore the following national parks with her family: Rocky Mountain, the Everglades, Yellowstone, Voyageurs, Glacier, Great Smoky Mountains, Crater Lake, Badlands, Arches, Grand Teton. (She's not done yet!)

Leave a Comment

22