Brink of the Upper Falls Trail Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River begins at Upper Falls, cutting a 20-mile long, 1,000-foot deep gash across Yellowstone National Park. Walk right up to the edge of the dramatic tumbler on Brink of the Upper Falls Trail and stare down the thundering 109-foot waterfall. You can visit the Brink of the Upper Falls as a spur off North Rim Trail or as a short standalone hike from a parking area just uphill from the waterfall. From the parking area, it is 0.25 miles round trip to the Brink of the Upper Falls with 75 feet of elevation change.

Brink of the Upper Falls Trail
Looking over the brink of the Upper Falls

Start from the lower of two parking lots for the Brink of the Upper Falls and pick up the southbound end of North Rim Trail (you could also hike this trail for three miles in the other direction heading northeast to Inspiration Point). After a short distance on North Rim Trail, turn left at a marked junction, hiking down toward the Yellowstone River. After a couple flights of stairs, you will near the bank of the Yellowstone River and walk out to a fenced-in overlook on a rocky outcropping at the top of the Upper Falls.

Yellowstone Falls is split into two tiers separated by a quarter mile. Due to a bend in the river, the longer 308-foot Lower Falls is not visible from the Upper Falls. Still there is an intimate encounter with the violent plunge that begins from the Brink of the Upper Falls. The amount of water flowing over Upper Falls varies throughout the year. It is estimated that a minimum of 5,000 gallons of water flow over the waterfall each second during the dry fall season, and over 60,000 gallons per second fly over the Upper Falls during peak spring runoff. If the volume of the waterfall intimidates you, look for calming rainbows that appear in the swirling mist.

After absorbing the power of the Upper Falls, return the way you came. There is an entrance fee for Yellowstone National Park, but no permit is required to hike to the Brink of Upper Falls, so get out and enjoy!

Brink of the Upper Falls Trail
The brink of the Upper Falls

To get to the trailhead: From Canyon Junction, where Norris Canyon Road and Grand Loop Road meet, drive 1.6 miles south and turn left onto a spur road heading east toward the Brink of the Upper Falls (the unnamed road is 0.4 miles south of North Rim Drive and 0.7 miles north of South Rim Drive on Grand Loop Road). Proceed another quarter mile to the trailhead parking area.

Trailhead address: Grand Loop Road, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
Trailhead coordinates: 44.714572, -110.500698 (44° 42′ 52.45″N 110° 30′ 02.51″W)

Trail Map
View Yellowstone National Park in a larger map
Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.

You may also view a regional map of surrounding Wyoming trails and campgrounds.

Photos

Upper Falls YellowstoneUpper Falls YellowstoneUpper Falls YellowstoneUpper Falls Yellowstone

These photos were taken in August of 2011. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
North Rim Trail North Rim Trail on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This trail follows the north wall of the canyon past several exceptional views between Inspiration Point and the Brink of the Upper Falls.
Lookout Point Yellowstone Lookout Point on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This short spur off North Rim Trail (which you can also drive right up to) achieves an impressive view of Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
Inspiration Point on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River Inspiration Point on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This jutting point is one of the premier vistas along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, reachable at the bottom of a flight of stairs from a parking area at the east end of North Rim Trail.
Uncle Tom's Trail Uncle Tom's Trail on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This 0.7-mile round trip hike descends a steel staircase clinging to the south wall of the canyon to a viewing platform with spectacular views of Lower Falls.
Artist Point Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River Artist Point on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This viewpoint delivers one of the most photographed views in Yellowstone, a memorable perspective of the 308-foot Lower Falls.
Point Sublime Point Sublime on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This 3-mile hike explores the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, passing Artist Point toward more excellent views.
Yellowstone Tower Fall Tower Fall
This 1-mile hike starts with a head-on view of a 132-foot waterfall. Unfortunately, the final leg of the trail to the base of Tower Fall is closed due to damage from rock and mud slides.
Calcite Springs Overlook Trail Calcite Springs Overlook
This 0.25-mile loop overlooks a dramatic section of the Yellowstone River lined by bleached cliffs and steam venting hydrothermal springs.
West Thumb Geyser Basin More trails in Yellowstone
Explore other hikes to waterfalls and hydrothermal hot spots in Yellowstone National Park.
Camping
Yellowstone Campgrounds Yellowstone National Park Campgrounds
There are 12 developed campgrounds with over 2,000 total sites spread throughout Yellowstone.
OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with · Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone · National Parks · Waterfalls
Distance: 0.4 miles · Elevation change: 75 feet

Ask a question or share your experience

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *