Crystal Falls

Yellowstone National Park / Canyon, Wyoming, USA

About Crystal Falls


Hiking Distance: 1/4 mile round trip
Suggested Time: 15-30 minutes

Date first visited: 2004-06-21
Date last visited: 2004-06-22

Waterfall Latitude: 44.71771
Waterfall Longitude: -110.50127

Crystal Falls was an impressive 129ft waterfall that we could imagine would be easily overlooked by its powerful neighbors on the Yellowstone River – Lower and Upper Falls.

Contrasting its more famous neighbors, this waterfall was one of the tall and graceful types as well as belonging to a tributary of the Yellowstone River on Cascade Creek.

Crystal_Falls_018_06222004 - Crystal Falls
Crystal Falls

Given how much attention the Yellowstone River waterfalls would get, we had to make somewhat of a concerted effort to look for Crystal Falls.

However, once we found it the first time, we generally knew where we should be looking from that point on.

For the closest vantage point that you see pictured above, we went on a short hike.

From the parking lot for the brink of the Upper Falls (see directions below), we initially walked back along the short road we took to get to the parking lot before finding the Rim Trail on our right.

We followed this trail for a short distance before we saw an unsigned spur trail to our right leading to an unofficial overlook of the Crystal Falls.

The trail looked like it kept going (beyond the closure sign), but we could only speculate whether it went to the base of the falls or to somewhere else since we didn’t bother crossing the barricade.

To my knowledge, the vantage spot looking down at the waterfall from this spur trail was the best place to see the falls from as close as the sanctioned trails would allow on our June 2004 trip.

Crystal_Falls_005_jx_06222004 - Looking across the Yellowstone River towards Crystal Falls from the Uncle Tom's Trailhead
Looking across the Yellowstone River towards Crystal Falls from the Uncle Tom’s Trailhead

However, we did manage to steal a glimpse of the waterfall from across the canyon on the South Rim near the Uncle Tom’s Trailhead.

Unfortunately, the view from there was not the most optimal.

Authorities

Crystal Falls resides in Yellowstone National Park near Gardiner in Park County, Wyoming. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit the National Park Service website.

Crystal_Falls_002_06222004 - Looking across from the Uncle Tom's Trailhead at the Crystal Falls during our first time in Yellowstone in June 2004
Crystal_Falls_005_06222004 - View of Crystal Falls with part of the barricade on the lower left
Crystal_Falls_006_06222004 - More zoomed in look at the Crystal Falls from as close as we could get during our visit in June 2004
Crystal_Falls_014_06222004 - Even more zoomed in on the full drop of the Crystal Falls as seen in June 2004
Crystal_Falls_002_jx_06222004 - Contextual portrait view of Crystal Falls as seen from the north side of the Yellowstone River during our visit in June 2004
Crystal_Falls_004_jx_06222004 - Another look at the Crystal Falls from the north side of the Yellowstone River during our visit in June 2004
Crystal_Falls_017_06222004 - Contextual view of Crystal Falls from the overlook
Uncle_Toms_Trail_042_06212004 - View of Crystal Falls from near Uncle Tom's Trailhead
Uncle_Toms_Trail_041_06212004 - More zoomed in look at Crystal Falls as seen from the Uncle Tom's Trailhead area in June 2004

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To reach the Crystal Falls, we’ll describe how we did it since there may be other ways to get to the views you see described in this write-up.

We did our visit by driving to the parking area at the Brink of the Upper Falls.

It is reached by a short signposted spur road 1.7 miles south of Canyon Junction along the Grand Loop Road.

The short spur road leads to a fairly large parking lot there.

If you want to see the Crystal Falls from the Uncle Tom’s Trailhead, then you have to drive onto the South Rim Drive 2.3 miles south of Canyon Junction on the Grand Loop Road.

Then, you drive about 0.6 miles on South Rim Drive to the large parking lot for Uncle Tom’s Trail and Overlook.

To provide you with a bit of context, the Canyon Junction was an hour drive (40 miles) east of West Yellowstone, Montana. West Yellowstone was 4.5 hours drive north of Salt Lake City. Canyon Junction was also nearly 3 hours drive (115 miles) north of Jackson Hole and 2.5 hours drive (117 miles) south of Bozeman.

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Tagged with: rim drive, north rim, grotto pool, cascade creek, park county, yellowstone, canyon, uncle toms trail, wyoming, waterfall, rockies, rocky mountains



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.