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

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

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.

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 this waterfall had it been on its own outside the 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…

Upper Falls from Uncle Tom’s Lookout

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

This viewpoint gave us the classic view of Upper Falls. We were able to get here from the car park for the Uncle Tom’s Trail.

From the Canyon Junction, we drove south past the Chittenden Bridge, which was that bridge above 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 car park.

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

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

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 car park, we took a short trail that terminated at the overlook.

The car park 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.


Upper Falls resides in Yellowstone National Park. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit the National Park Service website.



Upper Falls 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.

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

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