Upper Falls (of the Yellowstone River)

Yellowstone National Park / Canyon, Wyoming, USA

About Upper Falls (of the Yellowstone River)


Hiking Distance: roadside; wheelchair
Suggested Time:

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

Waterfall Latitude: 44.71291
Waterfall Longitude: -110.49959

Upper Falls was the other major waterfall that we saw on the Yellowstone River.

We thought it tended to be overshadowed by the Lower Falls further downstream because it wasn’t plunging within the depths of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

Uncle_Toms_Trail_029_06212004 - Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River
Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River

Nonetheless, this impressive 110ft waterfall held its own in terms of scenic allure, especially when we considered its power.

In fact, I’d bet there would be an entire state park or reserve devoted to just this waterfall had it been on its own outside the Yellowstone National Park boundaries.

To our knowledge, I don’t think it was possible to get down to the river level to see the falls at its base (or at least not possible from the obvious lookouts and trails sanctioned by the Park Service).

We’ve managed to experience this waterfall in a couple of ways, which we’ll get into below…

Experiencing Upper Falls – view from Uncle Tom’s Lookout

Uncle_Toms_Trail_032_06212004 - Upper Falls and the Chittenden Bridge from the car park for Uncle Tom's Trail
Upper Falls and the Chittenden Bridge from the car park for Uncle Tom’s Trail

The viewpoint near the Uncle Tom’s Trailhead and Lookout gave us the classic view of Upper Falls, which was just a few paces from the parking lot for the Uncle Tom’s Trail.

From the Canyon Junction, we drove south past the Chittenden Bridge (which was that bridge you see in the photo above that was upstream of the falls), and then we turned left onto the South Rim Drive.

After about 0.6 miles on the South Rim Drive, we reached the parking lot.

Once we parked the car, we headed towards the western end of the lot, and that was when we saw a trail that continued west and provided the frontal view of the Upper Falls.

We didn’t go very far on this trail, but I’d imagine the angle of the view would change (not necessarily for the better) the further west we’d go.

Experiencing Upper Falls – view from the brink

Upper_Falls_Brink_002_06212004 - Looking down the brink of the Upper Falls
Looking down the brink of the Upper Falls

As the name implied, we were able to get right up to the edge of the Upper Falls.

From there, we could appreciate the waterfall’s power as well as make feeble attempts at trying to communicate it in our awkward photos.

From the designated parking lot for the brink of the Upper Falls, we took a short trail that terminated at the overlook.

The parking area for this spot was at the end of a turnoff 1.7 miles south of the Canyon Junction (near Canyon Village) along the Grand Loop Road.

Authorities

Upper 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.

Upper_Falls_brink_002_jx_08122017 - Looking down over the brink of the Upper Falls during our visit in August 2017
Upper_Falls_Brink_003_jx_06212004 - Looking upstream from the brink of the Upper Falls during our visit in June 2004
Uncle_Toms_Trail_036_06212004 - Portrait view of the Upper Falls with the Chittenden Bridge as seen from the Uncle Tom's Trailhead area during our visit in June 2004
Uncle_Toms_Trail_039_06212004 - Another look at the Upper Falls and the Chittenden Bridge as seen from the Uncle Tom's Trailhead area in June 2004
Uncle_Toms_Trail_046_06212004 - Contextual view of the Upper Falls and the Chittenden Bridge as seen from the Uncle Tom's Trailhead area in June 2004
Uncle_Toms_Trail_051_06222004 - Darker photo from a different time in the day when the Upper Falls was in shadow as seen from the Uncle Tom's Trailhead area in June 2004

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Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River is in the Canyon section of Yellowstone National Park.

All the ways to experience it described above were accessed from this fairly developed part of the park.

The Canyon Junction was on the Grand Loop Road about 15.4 miles north of the Lake junction (through Hayden Valley), 11.5 miles east of the Norris Junction, or 18.3 miles south of the Roosevelt Junction (over Dunraven Pass).

We managed to drive here via the Norris Junction approach, which itself was 13.3 miles east of the Madison Junction and 27.2 miles east of Yellowstone’s West Entrance near West Yellowstone, Montana.

For some context, West Yellowstone was 4.5 hours drive north of Salt Lake City. The Roosevelt Junction was over 2 hours drive (102 miles) from Bozeman via the North Entrance. The Lake Junction was over 2 hours drive (98 miles) north of Jackson Hole.

Tagged with: yellowstone river, yellowstone, canyon, uncle toms trail, brink, chittenden bridge, wyoming, waterfall, rockies, rocky mountains, park county



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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.
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